Tombstone Explained In a Nutshell
Tombstone is the story of legendary lawman Wyatt Earp and his journey to Tombstone, AZ to earn a fortune with his family. During their stay they have a run in with a group of outlaws named ‘The Cowboys’ and after the incident, everything goes to hell in a hand basket. There is lots of gun fights, an old fashioned duel, and a great story!
The Tombstone Movie Trailer
The Tombstone Movie Review Breakdown
Tagline: Every town has a story. Tombstone has a legend.
Who is in it? Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Michael Biehn, Charlton Heston, Jason Priestley, Billy Bob Thornton and Billy Zane
Genre: Western – Action – Drama
Was it a dramatic and action packed western? YES!
Would this movie be for every western fan? Without question. If you like westerns, you will like this movie. End of subject.
Should you see it? For sure. Even if you hate westerns, you will like this movie. Trust me, this flick is awesome.
Run Time: 130 minutes
As many of you know, I am more of a horror nut than a western nut. In fact, I really didn’t care for westerns at all… like AT ALL. You could imagine my surprise when a friend of mine with the same taste in movies as I have started talking to no end about a Western. He said he watched it once and he can’t stop watching it, and wouldn’t stop quoting scenes and stuff and it drove me nuts! I told him I would watch it, and saw it for sale at Walmart one day and bought it. That movie was of course Tombstone, and this is the movie that made me open minded to westerns. Tombstone is on a short list of my favorite westerns and is also in my top 5 favorite movies of all time. The cast is amazing and the dialog is VERY quotable. The movie centers around Wyatt (Kurt Russell) but in my opinion Val Kilmer’s portrayal of Doc Holiday stole the show. Do yourself a favor and watch this one, and avoid the Kevin Costner ‘Wyatt Earp’ movie.
You gonna do something, or just stand there and bleed?
The movie starts out with a short narrative documentary that explains that Doc Holiday (a gentleman gambler with tuberculosis), legendary lawman Wyatt Earp and his two brothers are making their way west to earn their fortunes. It goes on to explain that there is a gang of lawless thieves called ‘The Cowboys’ and the film takes place in Tombstone, AZ. Wyatt and his wife meet his two brothers and their wives at a train station and make their way to Tombstone. Once there they meet the county sheriff and they get hooked up with a place to stay. Once settled in town Wyatt intimidates a loudmouth casino dealer and acquires a game there with 25% of the house profits. He meets up with Doc Holiday and they earn a good amount of money. A traveling group of actors arrives in town and their beautiful lead actress takes an interest in Wyatt.
There’s just something about him, something around the eyes… that reminds me of.. Me! Yep, I am sure of it. I hate em!
Wyatt is married to a bitchy ex-prostitute that’s addicted to drugs and decides to ignore the beautiful actress much to the surprise of Doc and his younger brother Morgan. The decision is short lived and he basically starts a relationship with her anyways. One night the leader of ‘the cowboys’ shoots and kills the town marshal and Wyatt, his brothers, and Doc stand up to them and hold them off. That action starts a feud that is destined to end in a bloody mess. Wyatt’s brothers take rolls in the town’s law enforcement and although hesitant at first, Wyatt joins too. The decision that drove Wyatt to join was the threats from the Cowboys that turned into the battle at the OK corral. The gunfight at the OK corral lead to the deaths of a few cowboys and they are certain to exact revenge.
I’m your huckleberry…
Lets kick this into high gear. The cowboys attack Virgil (Wyatt’s older brother) and the wound leaves him without the use of one of his arms. When Morgan Earp is shot in the back and killed later that evening, Wyatt goes a little crazy. He takes Virgil and the rest of his remaining family and acts like he is leaving down. When the cowboys show up at the train station to kill them, they are met with Wyatt and his posse. Wyatt is now a US Marshal, a job he had previously turned down several times. Wyatt kills one of them and tells the other to say that if he sees a man with a red sash (the sign of being a cowboy) he kills the man wearing it. From that moment on it’s basically a montage of the posse killing a bunch of people. There is an epic gun duel between Doc and the cowboy’s most dangerous man ‘Johnny Ringo’ and more killing. The movie ends with the cowboys either dead or disbanded, Doc dies of his tuberculosis, and Wyatt finding his lovely actress and living happily ever after.
Official Nutshell-Movies Explanation
Tombstone (1993): Wyatt Earp and family move to Arizona to strike it rich. Wyatt ends up going bat ‘you know what’ crazy and kills cowboys.
Fun Facts about Tombstone
- Director George P. Cosmatos is quoted as saying that all lightning and mustaches are real.
- The real Wyatt Earp’s fifth cousin, Wyatt Earp, plays Billy Claiborne.
- Although the gunfight at the O. K. Corral plays out more or less as it did in real life, the filmmakers made several small changes. In the actual incident it was Ike Clanton who ran through the corral to escape (in the film it is Barnes who runs out the back). The film instead shows Ike Clanton running into the photographer’s studio while firing a few shots back at the Earps and Doc. In reality, it was Billy Claiborne who performed this action before escaping unscathed.
- The Latin phrases spoken by Doc and Ringo have implied meaning beyond their literal translation. The conversation could be translated into vernacular English this way: DOC: Wine loosens the tongue. RINGO: You better pay attention to what you’re doing. DOC: Go tell someone else. RINGO: (tapping his gun) Fools must learn through experience. DOC: Rest in peace.
- When the Earps first enter Tombstone, a grave marker can be seen in the cemetery that reads “Here lies Lester Moore, Four slugs from a .44, No Les No more.” There is an actual tombstone in Tombstone, Arizona that has that epitaph.
- The excerpt from William Shakespeare’s “Henry the V” that is recited by Mr. Fabian is the same passage that Dutton Peabody speaks to himself while walking down the street inThe Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).
- The expression “I’m your huckleberry” spoken by Doc means “I’m the perfect man for the job.” It is not a reference to Mark Twain’s Huck Finn, as that book was published in 1885 and this movie takes place in 1881.
- The line quoted by Doc at the end of the fight at the OK Corral is historically true and was reported in the Tombstone papers reporting the fight. When confronted by one of the Cowboys at point blank range, the Cowboy reportedly said, “I got you now Doc, you son of a bitch,” to which Doc gleefully retorted, “You’re a daisy if you do!”
- In an interview with True West magazine (Oct. 2006), star Kurt Russell admits that after original director Kevin Jarre was fired, he directed a majority of the picture. According to Russell, credited director George P. Cosmatos served merely to make things run smoothly. Also in the True West interview, Kurt Russell states that the film was nearly cast with Richard Gere as Wyatt Earp and Willem Dafoe as Doc Holliday.
- Then-72-year old Harry Carey Jr. played Marshal Fred White in spite of the fact that the real Fred White was about 31 years old at the time of his murder.
- “I’ll be damned” really are the final words of John “Doc” Holliday. To this day, historians have debated on why Doc said that. The main theory is that Doc had become a gunfighter hoping that someone would kill him and spare him the effects of tuberculosis and that he was amazed that the disease is what killed him: not the drinking, gambling, or gunfighting.
- Doc Holiday’s last words “I’ll be damned” were uttered when he realized he had bare feet. Doc swore he would “die with his boots on”.
- Both Val Kilmer and Kurt Russell played Elvis characters in different films around this time. Kilmer played the role of the Mentor in True Romance (1993) and Russell was the voice of Elvis in Forrest Gump (1994).
- In an interview in the late 1990s, John Carpenter claimed he almost directed this film.
- When Wyatt is at the train station standing on the loading platform, giving Ike Clanton his “you tell em’ I’m comin’, and hells comin’ with me” speech, really going crazy on Ike, he’s standing in front of train car #5150 (the California police code for a crazy person).
- The role of Johnny Ringo was originally offered to Mickey Rourke, who turned it down.
- As extraordinary as the scene is in which Wyatt kills Curly Bill Brocius in the creek, it is true. During the shootout in the creek when Wyatt kills Curly Bill, the next person he shoots is Johnny Barnes (the cowboy who yells “JESUS CHRIST!!”). As in real life, Wyatt shoots Barnes in the stomach. However, Barnes was not killed on site. He managed to escaped and died in a farmhouse. However, before dying, he told the story of how Wyatt REALLY did walk into a hail of Curly Bill’s gunfire unscathed and walked right up to Bill and shot him point blank with both barrels of a double-barreled shotgun.
Tombstone is the movie that opened my eyes to westerns!