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Gunfight at the O.K. Corral Details

FULL SYNOPSIS

Of the many filmed versions of the October 26, 1881, O.K. Corral shootout in Tombstone, Arizona, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was one of the most elaborate and star-studded. Burt Lancaster plays Wyatt Earp, the renowned lawman, while Kirk Douglas is consumptive gambler (and gunfighter) Doc Holliday -- the two meet in difficult circumstances, as Earp discovers that Holiday, for whom he initially feels little but loathing, is being held on a trumped up murder charge and being set up for a lynching, and intercedes on his behalf. The action shifts to Dodge City, Kansas, where Earp is marshal and Holiday, hardly grateful for the good turn, shows up right in the middle of all kinds of trouble, this time mostly on Earp's side of the ledger. And, finally, the two turn up in Tombstone, Arizona, where Wyatt's brother Virgil is city marshal, and where Wyatt finally gets to confront the Clanton/McLowery outlaw gang (led by Lyle Bettger as Ike Clanton). Since the time-span of the actual gunfight was at most 90 seconds, the bulk of the film concerns the tensions across many months leading up to the famous battle. As scripted by Leon Uris (from a magazine story by George Scullin), the story involves two unrelated but parallel plot-lines -- a long-standing vendetta against Holliday and the efforts of Earp to bring the Clanton/McLowery gang to justice -- that are eventually drawn together on the streets of Tombstone. Woven into these proceedings are Earp's and Holliday's romantic dalliances with lady gambler Laura Denbow (Rhonda Fleming) and Kate Fisher (Jo Van Fleet), whose switch in affections from Holiday to outlaw fast-gun Johnny Ringo (John Ireland) only rachets up gambler's rage and the reasons behind the bloody climax. There are plenty of bribery attempts, terse dialogue exchanges and "Mexican standoffs" before the inevitable gunfight takes place. Director John Sturges takes some dramatic license with this confrontation, as well, stretching things out to nearly six minutes, but this is after all an "A" production, and a minute-and-a-half of gunfire just wouldn't cut it. The huge cast of western veterans includes Earl Holliman as Charles Bassett, Dennis Hopper as Billy Clanton, Kenneth Tobey as Bat Masterson, Lee Van Cleef as Ed Bailey, Jack Elam as Tom McLowery, and John Hudson, DeForest Kelley and Martin Milner as Virgil, Morgan, and James Earp, respectively. And there's that Dimitri Tiomkin score, pushing the movie's momentum as relentlessly as the two driven heroes, complete with a song (sung by Frankie Laine) underscoring the major transitions of scenes that's impossible to forget, once heard. Sturges himself would produce and direct a more fact-based and realistic version of the story -- focusing mostly on its aftermath -- a decade later, entitled Hour of the Gun, starring James Garner, Jason Robards, Jr., and Robert Ryan, which wasn't nearly as attractive or successful. But after Gunfight At The OK Corral, there would not be so impressive a lineup of talent at the OK Corral again until the twin Earp biopics of 1994, Martin Milner and Martin Milner. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:May 30, 1957

Awards

Awarded by
Nominee
Category
Year
Status
Directors Guild of America John Sturges Best Director 1957 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Warren Low Best Editing 1957 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences George Dutton Best Sound 1957 Nominee

Cast

Burt Lancaster
as Wyatt Earp
Kirk Douglas
as John H. "Doc" Holliday
Rhonda Fleming
as Laura Denbow
Jo Van Fleet
as Kate Fisher
John Ireland
as Johnny Ringo
Lyle Bettger
as Ike Clanton
Frank Faylen
as Cotton Wilson
Earl Holliman
as Charles Bassett
Ted de Corsia
as Abel Head "Shanghai Pierce"
Dennis Hopper
as Billy Clanton
Whit Bissell
as John P. Clum
DeForest Kelley
as Morgan Earp
Martin Milner
as James Earp
Lee Van Cleef
as Ed Bailey
Joan Camden
as Betty Earp
Olive Carey
as Mrs. Clanton
Brian G. Hutton
as Rick
Nelson Leigh
as Mayor Kelley
Jack Elam
as Tom McLowery
Dorothy Abbott
as Girl
Frank S. Hagney
as Bartender
Len Hendry
as Cowboy
Edward Ingram
as Deputy
Anthony Jochim
as Old Man
Ethan Laidlaw
Gregg Martell
Dennis Moore
Lee Roberts
as Finn Clanton
Bing Russell
as Bartender
Courtland Shepard
as Card Player
Mickey Simpson
as Frank McLowery
Robert Swan
as Shaugnessy Man
Bill Williams
as Stuntman
Henry Wills
as Alby
Trude Wyler
as Social Hall Guest
Max Power
Morgan Lane
Kenneth Tobey
as Bat Masterson
Don Castle
as Drunken Cowboy
Charles Herbert
as Tommy Earp
Tony Merrill
as Barber
Robert Swan
as Shaugnessy Man
Kenneth Tobey
as Bat Masterson
Courtland Shepard
as Card Player
Bing Russell
as Bartender
Trude Wyler
as Social Hall Guest
Frank S. Hagney
as Bartender
Henry Wills
as Alby
Charles Herbert
as Tommy Earp
Bill Williams
as Stuntman
Edward Ingram
as Deputy
Len Hendry
as Cowboy
Mickey Simpson
as Frank McLowery
Dorothy Abbott
as Girl
Don Castle
as Drunken Cowboy
Anthony Jochim
as Old Man
Lee Roberts
as Finn Clanton

Crew

John Sturges
Director
Hal B. Wallis
Producer
George Scullin
Book Author
Charles B. Lang
Cinematographer
Dimitri Tiomkin
Composer (Music Score)
Dimitri Tiomkin
Musical Direction/Supervision
Ned Washington
Songwriter
Warren Low
Editor
Walter Tyler
Art Director
Hal Pereira
Art Director
Sam Comer
Set Designer
Arthur Krams
Set Designer
Edith Head
Costume Designer
Harold Lewis
Sound/Sound Designer
John P. Fulton
Special Effects
Wally Westmore
Makeup
Dimitri Tiomkin
Conductor
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