Wyatt Earp (1994)

 

 

 

Director:  Lawrence Kasdan.

Starring:  Kevin Costner (Wyatt Earp), Dennis Quaid (Doc Holliday), Gene Hackman (Nicholas Earp), David Andrews (James Earp),  Linden Ashby (Morgan Earp), Jeff Fahey (Ike Clanton), Mark Harmon (Sheriff Johnny Behan), Michael Madsen (Virgil Earp), Catherine O'Hara (Allie Earp), Bill Pullman (Ed Masterson), Isabella Rossellini (Big Nose Kate), Tom Sizemore (Bat Masterson), JoBeth Williams (Bessie Earp), Mare Winningham (Mattie Blaylock), James Gammon (Mr. Sutherland), Annabeth Gish (Urilla Sutherland), Betty Buckley (Virginia Earp), Mackenzie Astin (Francis O'Rourke), Karen Grassle (Mrs. Sutherland), Tea Leoni (Sally), John Doe (Tommy Behind the Deuce). Joanna Going (Josie Earp).

 

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.  Curse words included.

 

Side One. 

Sheriff Wyatt Earp sits in an empty bar smoking a cigar and drinking coffee.  Two of his brothers, Virgil and Morgan, come into the bar.  Morgan says:  "They just moved out of the O.K. Corral."  "They" are:  Ike and Billy Clanton, Billy Claiborne and "maybe more".  Wyatt gets up saying:  "Let's go."

Flashback:  They young boy Wyatt Earp tries to run away and enlist in the union army.  He says goodbye to brothers Morgan and Warren and runs on a dirt road between two huge cornfields..  He sees a man on horseback coming his way so he ducks into the rows of corn.  The horseman rides through the cornfield and catches up with Wyatt.  It's his father Nicholas Earp. He asks Wyatt where is he going?  Wyatt says he's going into town to enlist in the army and fight the rebs with his brothers James and Virgil.  He says: "I'm ready."  Dad asks him if he thinks his mother is ready for her young son to go off to war? 

Wyatt rides on the back of his father's horse.  His dad says he is going to have to whip him "a bit".  

Wyatt gets up very early in the money when it is still dark outside.  He takes a rifle and pretends he is fighting the Confederates.  He hears a wagon coming toward the house.  His brother Virgil is driving the wagon with wounded brother James in the back. 

At the dinner table dad tells the family that they are moving on again and this time it's California.  Brother Virgil and Sister Martha don't want to go to California and will stay put.  James says he's going with the family.  Dad says:  "The closer you keep your family, the better.  They're the only ones you can rely on.  Remember this, all of you.  Nothing counts so much as blood.  The rest are just strangers."  The older children kind of roll their eyes at this because they've heard it about a hundred times. 

The family moves in a wagon train toward California.   While the wagon train rests Wyatt and Tom Chapman are going into the nearby town.  The two young fellows load up the back of their wagon with supplies.  Tom Chapman flirts with a girl while Wyatt works.  Then they both go over to a saloon.  Wyatt says he's only going to take a look into the saloon, not go inside.  As he approaches the swinging doors, a whole mass of people spill into the street.  Two men decide to settle their dispute right now.  They both pull their guns, but both of their shots miss their target.  They shoot again and down both of them go.  One man is badly wounded in the groin area and is covered in blood there.  Wyatt feels sick, runs around the corner of the saloon and throws up. 

Dad talks to Wyatt saying that there are evil men who will do vicious things to people and they don't care who gets hurts.  "When you find yourself in a fight with such viciousness, hit first if you can.  And when you do hit, hit to kill."

Wyoming Territory.  7 years later.  Wyatt is driving a stage coach while his fellow employee shoots at robbers trying to catch up with them.  As the robbers get closer, Wyatt tells his compatriot to shoot the lead horse.  And down goes the lead horse spilling its rider to the ground. 

Nearby a town, hundreds of workers are laying track for the railway, while Wyatt and Dutch come rolling into town.  In town Wyatt referees a boxing match.  One of the fighters, John Shanssey, is taking a beating and Wyatt calls off the fight.  A gambler named Ed Ross comes over to Wyatt saying that twice Wyatt cost him money.  He slugs Wyatt to the ground. Wyatt slowly gets up. 

In the saloon Wyatt is trying to watch the gambling, but barmaid Sally is trying to get Wyatt to go with her.  The young fellow tells Sally that he has a girl back in Lamar, Missouri, where his grandparents live.  A man comes over to Wyatt to warn him that a drunken Dutch is shooting off his mouth about Wyatt taking on Ed Ross, the guy who decked Wyatt earlier.  Earp sits down at a roulette table and starts betting.  Suddenly, he hears someone shout out:  "Wyatt Earp!"  It's Ed Ross.  Wyatt tries to explain that he is not looking for a fight, but bully boy Ross won't change his mind.  So Wyatt grabs one of the cue balls from the pool table and throws it as hard as he can at the man's chest.  Ed Ross goes down struggling to get some air. 

Everybody in the place is amazed at what just happened.  They all stare at Wyatt in wonderment.  Wyatt goes over to the gunman and takes his gun belt off him.  He shouts to the crowd:  "This man wanted to shoot me down over nothing! . . .  I'm taking his gun."  He puts the gun belt on.  Sally takes him by the hand upstairs. 

Watching the 4th of July fireworks, Wyatt practices drawing his pistol from its holster. 

Wyatt is in Lamar, Missouri, with flowers in his hand knocking on the door of the Sutherland house.  Mrs. Sutherland says his grandparents told her he was coming back to Lamar.  Wyatt says he is studying the law with his grandfather Judge Earp.  Mom goes to get her daughter Urilla.  Urilla comes to the door and Wyatt looks thunderstruck.  She asks Wyatt what's wrong and Wyatt just says:  "I wasn't prepared for how beautiful you are."  They sit on a swinging bench on the porch and Wyatt tells her that one of the reasons he came back to Lamar was to marry her. 

Wyatt escorts Urilla back to her home.  They kiss before she goes in. 

Wyatt is invited for dinner with the Sutherland family.  The father asks what Lamar is going to be doing.  Wyatt says he's studying the law, but he has take a job to earn some money.  He is going to be a constable.  He adds that he needs a job if he is going to marry Urilla.  Dad asks when will this happen?  Urilla says that Wyatt has asked her to marry him everyday since he came back to Lamar. 

Wyatt takes Urilla over to an empty house and tells her this will be their home after they are married.  Urilla looks intently around the small house.  Then she embraces Wyatt and the two starts kissing and keep on kissing. 

Wyatt and Urilla marry in an outdoors ceremony.  They go home to their little place that is now furnished.  He carries her over the threshold. 

The newly weds work in their garden.  Wyatt tells her about the wide open spaces in the West.  He says:  "You can ride all day toward some mountain and never even get close." 

Winter comes with the snow and then spring arrives.  Urilla is sick.  She can't eat her supper.  Urilla is pregnant but she is having a terrible time of it.  The doctor says it's not the pregnancy that's the problem. Urilla has typhoid.  Her mother tries to go see her daughter but the doctor says he can't allow that because it wouldn't be fair to the town. Wyatt carefully nurses Urilla, but she dies in bed.  Wyatt holds her tight and cries. 

Wyatt starts falling apart.  He gets drunk, makes a Molotov cocktail and throws it into his house.  The place quickly goes up in flames.  Wyatt rides away. 

Arkansas.  9 months later.  Wyatt is sleeping in a stable.  He gets thrown out when the stable worker finds him.  He asks a man for the price of a meal.  The man wants to get away from Wyatt who reeks of alcohol.  Wyatt persists in his request and finally the fellow says he won't give him money, but he will arrange for him to have a meal.  Wyatt gets angry about what the man said to him, then decides to rob the guy instead. He beats the guy up, takes his gun belt and rides off on his horse.  He later sells the horse to a stable owner. 

A prostitute makes Wyatt take a bath.  He is just about to get out of the bath when the sheriff comes in and knocks him out with his pistol.  Wyatt wakes up to find himself in jail.  A cockroach walks over him.  He thinks about Urilla and her death and then about burning his own house down.  When the lightning flashes outside Wyatt sees a man standing at the bars of his cell.  He figures it out that his father has come for him.  Dad calls him:  "Horse thief!"  He says they hang horse thieves.  So now he asks Wyatt if he wants to die?  Wyatt is indifferent about the matter.  Dad switches tactics by saying:  "Do you think you're the first man to lose someone?  That's what life is all about: loss.  But we don't use it as an excuse to destroy ourselves.  We go on.  All of us.  Even you, Wyatt."

Dad says Wyatt is getting out of jail because he paid the $500 dollars bail.   He says there's not going to be a trial or a hanging:  "So you get on that horse, Wyatt, and you ride."   Dad hugs his son and says:  "You keep riding till you get out of Arkansas.  And you don't come back here, ever."  In the pouring rain Wyatt gets on a horse and rides out.

Wyatt has become a buffalo hunter.  He watches as the buffalo herd runs across the open prairie.  Wyatt goes to sell his skins.  The Masterson boys, Ed and Bat, are there at the selling place.  They watch as Wyatt brings in a huge load of buffalo skins.  The Mastersons need a job, so they follow Wyatt over to the tent bar.   Wyatt asks for coffee to drink, which causes the bartender a bit of trouble because he doesn't usually serve coffee.  The Mastersons start talking to Wyatt and then say they are looking for a job as skinners.  Before Wyatt can give a response, a huge fellow comes up to the bar and shouts whiskey for everyone.  Then he slaps Wyatt on the back really hard.  The bartender tries to pour Wyatt a drink, but Wyatt puts his hand over his glass.  The huge fellow gets angry that Wyatt won't drink his whiskey.  Wyatt tells him that he doesn't do well with whiskey, but would be much obliged if the man would pay for his coffee. 

Well, that's not acceptable to the man and he insists.  Wyatt tells him firmly:  "Mister, I've been in a real bad mood for a couple of years, so why don't you leave me alone?"  The man goes for his pistol, but before he can pull it out of the holster Wyatt has his pistol in the man's face.  He backs the huge fellow up, telling him to drop his gun belt and get out of here.  The man is scared and leaves.  Now Wyatt hires the Mastersons. 

Being a skinner is a bloody, tough job.  Ed gets sick over the constant smell of blood and walks away from his brother over to where he tries to throw up.  The next day Wyatt, Bat and Ed all shoot buffalo. 

Wyatt and the Mastersons go in to sell their hides.  Wyatt says he wants to find another way to make a living than shooting and skinning buffalo.  He says he's going to to Wichita, Kansas to see his brother James and meet his wife. 

Wichita, Kansas.  Wyatt works in a saloon being a card dealer.  His brother James is the bartender.  Wyatt goes over to him and gets a coffee.  He says he sure would like to buy a saloon.  James says that with what Bessie makes as a barmaid, maybe they could pool their money and go in with Wyatt on a saloon.  Wyatt says:  "You know I don't like counting on women."  And Wyatt mentions that Bessie is a whore.  That's all right with James, so Wyatt guesses that he can accept it too. 

Someone down on the street shoots a bullet through Wyatt's room window.  Earp goes down to see what's going on.  He asks the sheriff and the mayor with him what's going on?  The mayor says that Rowdy Dubbs is in the the Iron Spike saloon, drunk, mad and shooting off his gun.  Dubbs has already shot one man, so Sheriff Ford now has to go in and get Dubbs.  The sheriff says oh, no.  He quits, giving his badge to the mayor and saying:  "They don't pay me enough to commit suicide."  Wyatt grabs the sheriff's pistol and goes after Dubbs.  He rushes across the street and then gets in position to rush the man through the swinging doors.  Wyatt jumps and slides along the barroom floor, while shooting at Dubbs.  Dubbs is wounded in the leg and cries out in pain.  Wyatt tells him:  "Ah, shut up."  He comes out of the saloon dragging Dubbs by the leg behind him. 

The mayor asks him if he wants to be the deputy marshal of the town for $75 dollars a month?  Wyatt hesitates, so the Mayor offers him $100 dollars.  Wyatt thinks that's a lot of money and the mayor sticks the badge on Wyatt's shirt. 

Wyatt and Marshal Meagher have a hell of a time getting a huge man into his jail cell.  Wyatt pulls the guys hair, jumps on top of him from behind and pulls the skin of his cheek far away from his teeth.  They finally are able to throw the man into the cell.  The man quickly gets up and charges the bar, but when he gets real close Wyatt hits him with his fist and the man goes down.  When it's all over the sheriff and deputy sheriff have a good laugh about it. 

Out on the street a man starts approaching Wyatt and the sheriff.  The sheriff thinks this may be some trouble coming their way, but Wyatt tells him not to shoot.  It's his brother Morgan.  The two brothers hug each other.  The sheriff asks Morgan to give him his gun belt.  Morgan is bewildered by the request, but complies when his brother tells him to take it off.  Morgan takes Wyatt over to his hotel room to meet his wife, Lou.  He says he met her when he was out visiting mom and dad in California.

Wyatt brings in two desperadoes.  Another huge man watches Wyatt.  After Wyatt jails the men, he starts walking down an alleyway.  The big man shouts to him:  "Wyatt Earp!"  Earp whirls around with his pistol in his hand.  The fellow just laughs and tells Wyatt not to shoot, because if he misses he will never live it down.  Wyatt tells the man:  "Mister, I ain't in the mood."  The fellow pulls on the left side of his coat uncovering a lawman's badge.  He says he is Larry Deger from Dodge City and people have been telling him that Wyatt is the man he needs. 

Deger tells Wyatt that he really needs help in Dodge City, because things have gotten out of hand.  Wyatt asks if he needs more than one man?  Deager says yes.  Wyatt is going to get some of his cohort a job. 

A sign is put up:  "Welcome to Dodge City, Kansas.  No carrying of firearms within city limits."  Despite that, cowboys come riding into town shooting off their guns. They come to a complete stop when Wyatt stands in the middle of the street and fires his shotgun, yelling:  "I am Wyatt Earp."  The cowboys stop.  A cowboy asks:  "Who the fuck is Wyatt Earp?"  A guy on the street says he's just some asshole.  Morgan Earp knocks the man out using his pistol. and saying that Earp is the asshole who enforces the law.  This is met with the defiant statement:  "There ain't no law in Dodge City!"

So Wyatt has his fellow lawmen (Marshal Meagher and Morgan and Virgil Earp) tell the men what are the laws of the city.  Afterwards, the boss, Mr. Clements is still defiant.  So Wyatt jams his reloaded shotgun into Clements's waist and says:  "But if you don't want to cooperate, I'll open you up right now with this shotgun so wide your whole crew's gonna see what you had for breakfast."  Seeing that Wyatt is very determined to enforce the law, the second in command starts laughing and the crew all start laughing.  He says:  "Give up your guns, boys.  Only ones you need now are sitting right between your legs."  This makes the crew laugh some more.

Wyatt has breakfast with the Mastersons, Ed and Bat.  They are thinking of becoming lawmen in Dodge City.  Everyone in the area seems to know about Wyatt Earp, but not all of it is good, says Ed.  Some people says that Wyatt Earp is too quick to bash a man just because he doesn't like the way the man looks. 

Wyatt takes Ed and Bat with him on his rounds.  He tells the guys that they may as well take the next infraction and deal with it.  Ed and Bat stop two men carrying firearms inside the city limits.  They start talking and talking to the men reluctant to surrender their weapons.  Earp, however, isn't so nice..He knocks out both men with a revolver to their heads.  Ed doesn't approve and Wyatt tells him:  "You talk too much, Ed."   Wyatt searches the two unconscious men and finds a small pistol in one of the men's right hand. 

In the office Ed tells Wyatt that he thinks he could have talked those two men into giving him their weapons.  Wyatt counterpunches with:  "Ed, if I were you, I'd look for another line of work. . . .You could get killed in this line of work, Ed.  You could get people around you killed. . . . This is a harsh land, Ed.  It doesn't suffer fools."  Ed says he's not a fool, but Wyatt answers back:  "But you're not a deliberate man, Ed.  I don't sense that about you.  You're too affable."

Wyatt is up in a room with Mattie Blaylock.  He leaves her some money on the dresser and she asks him please not to do that.  She says she would make him a good wife, but Wyatt is just not interested.  Only Mattie doesn't seem to want to hear it.  When Wyatt runs into Ed and Bat, Ed tells him that the mayor wants to see him.  There's been some complaints about how he is doing his job. 

Wyatt is no longer the deputy marshal of Dodge City.  He moves on to another place.

Fort Griffin, Texas.  Wyatt stops in to see the boxer John Shanssey, who Wyatt saved from getting a real beating and who is now the owner and bartender of his own saloon.  The man thanks Wyatt again for stopping the fight.  The bartender asks Wyatt what is he doing in these parts and Wyatt says the railroad wants him to catch a man named Dave Rudabaugh.  Dave robbed the Santa Fe train three times. Shanssey says this Dave came through here, but he doesn't know where he went.  He does, however, know a man who can tell him where this Dave is.  It's Doc Holliday  -- a man who hates Dave Rudabaugh with a passion.  Wyatt thinks this Doc Holliday is a killer.  Shanssey says:  "He's killed some." 

Shanssey takes Wyatt over to see Doc Holliday.  He is in a corner playing solitaire.  When Shanssey introduces Wyatt Earp, Holliday says:  "Wyatt Earp!  I've hear that name somewhere.  Don't know where, but it wasn't good."  Earp just gets to the point right away, saying he's looking for Dave Rudabaugh.  Holliday says:  "Are you a lawman, Wyatt Earp?  You are not wearing a badge.  Are you ashamed of your profession?"  Doc keeps talking on and on and every once in a while throwing a "Wyatt Earp" in there.   So Wyatt tells him:  "You'd be doing me a favor if you would call me either Wyatt or Earp.  Not both."   So Doc chooses "Wyatt". 

Ed goes into a saloon in Dodge City.  He takes a gun from a man standing at the bar.  He tried to be nice at first, but the guy was defiant, so Ed yells at him:  "Give it to me!"  The cowboy hands it over.  Ed gives it to the bartender to hold until the man leaves Dodge City.  The fellow has a real bad attitude and he doesn't like this lawman.  Ed stands outside the saloon.  The man gets a gun and rushes over to Ed.  Ed starts wrestling with the man for control of the gun.  Ed can't hold the gun.  The man cocks and fires his revolver into Ed's mid-section at almost point blank range.  Ed goes down, but he grabs his weapon and shoots the bad man.  The fellow's friend tries to pick up the weapon to shoot Ed, but Ed shoots him too.

Now, Ed starts walking down the street breathing very hard.  Bat comes up to him and Ed says:  "Bat.  Bat, I'm shot."  He dies in the arms of his brother. 

Wyatt brings in Dave Rudabaugh.   At the post office Wyatt has a telegram from Dodge City:  "Marshal Ed Masterson murdered.  Request you return immediately."

Wyatt puts back up the now bullet hole riddled sign saying no carrying of firearms within city limits.  With him is Bat and Virgil and three others.  They now head to the saloon.  Wyatt is the last to enter the saloon. He fires his shotgun into the air and shouts:  "My name is Wyatt Earp!  It all ends now!"

 

Side Two.

Doc stops his carriage to introduce Kate Elder (known as Big Nose Kate)  to Wyatt.  Wyatt asks why Doc came to Dodge City?  He says he missed Wyatt, but Kate tells Wyatt that this is where the money is.  Doc mentions that they got into a scrape in Fort Griffin that was beyond their control and they had to leave. 

There is a stage theater in Dodge City where they are putting on a performance from Gilbert and Sullivan.  Wyatt talks to Virgil about the possibility of moving to Tombstone, Arizona because there is silver there and plenty of opportunities.  The place is a boomtown and they need just about everything.  Virgil asks Wyatt:  "Wyatt, did it ever occur to you that maybe we're doing the only thing that we're any good at?" 

Wyatt looks around the saloon and then at the performance.  Someone has her hat kicked off and Wyatt is stunned by the woman's beauty.  A bunch of cowboys come riding through town shooting their pistols, but this time the bullets are directed at the saloon.  Wyatt starts returning fire.  He drops one of the cowboys, but the others get away. 

Wyatt comes over to Virgil's place to talk to what turns out to be just the Earp women.  They don't like that Wyatt is trying to move the whole family down to Tombstone.  They like living in Dodge City.  Virgil's wife Allie tells Wyatt:  "Just for once, let the Earps settle down somewhere."  Wyatt says:  "Is that right?"  The women nod their heads yes.  Wyatt is irritated that they called him here to talk to him without his brothers.  He walks out. 

Doc and Kate are fighting in their hotel room.  Kate fires a pistol at Doc.  Wyatt runs upstairs to see if he can't quiet the couple down.  It ends up that he has to knock Doc out with his fist to Doc's face and then take the gun away from Kate.  He takes Doc down to a watering trough for the horses and dunks his head in a couple of times.  Doc is laughing and coughing, coughing and laughing. 

Wyatt and Bat visit the grave of Edward J. Masterson, born 1852, died 1878.  Doc Holliday comes over and Wyatt tells him he's going to Tombstone to settle down where no one wants to shoot at him anymore. 

Tombstone, Arizona.  One year later.  The Earps have settled in but their investments in several mines has not made them any money.  The women are pretty upset with Wyatt.  Wyatt says together they have $14,000 dollars and now they just have to figure out where to invest it.  Bessie suggests that they split the money up between the households.  Wyatt just ignores her.  Bessie gets mad and goes over to Wyatt to say:  "Don't you ignore me, Wyatt.  If somebody voted you king of this family, I didn't hear about it."  She goes on to say that none of his projects have worked out and the men are still lawmen and bartenders just like before.  The brothers stick together and Bessie asks why does it always have to be about the brothers, the brothers?  They want a say in what goes on.  Bessie asks:  "Don't we ever count more than the damn brothers?"  Wyatt responds:  "No, Bessie, you don't.  Wives come and go, that's the plain truth of it.  They run off.  They die."  Mattie gets upset, starts crying and goes into the house.  All the wives leave now. 

At night Mattie asks to have children with Wyatt.  Wyatt basically just says no. 

The lawmen are bringing in two men as prisoners recently captured.  Frank Stillwell and Pete Spence are accused of robbing the Sandy Bob stagecoach on the road from Tombstone to Bisbee.  The bail is set at $7,000 dollars each.  Ike Clanton has the money to bail the two fellows out.  The Clantons and the McLaurys are the ones who pay their bail.  As the gang rides out of town, they pass County Sheriff Johnny Behan, who has a too cordial relation to the Cowboy Gang.  Behan goes to to Sheriff Fred White and Wyatt saying they should have informed him of the arrest of the two men, because he should have been there at the hearing.  Wyatt replies:  "They had enough friends there as it was."  Johnny protests that he worked hard to find the accused, but Wyatt suggests that Behan just didn't look hard enough. 

Behan speaks with Wyatt in the saloon where Wyatt works as a dealer.  He says that Wyatt is headed for war with the Clantons and the McLaurys.  He suggests that Wyatt shouldn't be interfering in these people's lives. Wyatt replies that these families are cattle rustlers, murderers and thieves. He gets really angry and tells Johnny off:  "I'm sick of hearing your lies! You go back to your friends and you tell 'em if they wanna make a fight with the Earps, they know where to find us!"  He walks away from Behan. 

One of the business owners in town mentions to Wyatt and Virgil that Johnny's Jewish woman is coming back from San Francisco on the Prescott stage.  When she arrives Behan gives her a big kiss.  The woman notices Wyatt and Wyatt notices the woman.  (She was the woman who was singing and dancing to the Gilbert and Sullivan tune in Dodge City.)  At night Wyatt runs into her on the street walking alone.  He tells her that he saw her before in Dodge City in a show.  She says she saw him too:  "I saw you and then you killed a man."  She walks away from him. 

Wyatt runs into Behan in a saloon showing a naked picture of his girlfriend to his buddies. 

The gang seems to be setting up an ambush of Marshall White.  Curly Bill Brocius hides in wait while the boys starts shooting up the place.  Wyatt comes out of the saloon.  Virgil runs into the guys first and stops their gunplay and then Marshall White catches Curly Bill in his hiding place.  He tells Curly Bill to hand over his weapon.  Curly Bill goes to hand his pistol off to the marshal when he suddenly flips his gun and shoots the marshal.  Wyatt knocks Curly Bill out with his gun.  Bail for Curly Bill is set at $15,000 dollars. 

Billy's girl Josie Macus finds out about the naked photographs of her that Behan has been showing to the guys in town.  Speaking to Wyatt she calls her "former" fiancÚ "horse shit".   She asks Wyatt if he wants her to go someplace with her?  Wyatt jumps at the opportunity.  Out by a river, she tells Wyatt that she heard a story about how Wyatt saved Tommy Behind-the-Deuce.  He asks her name.  It's Josie.  They end up kissing. 

The Earps and the gang have a nasty encounter.  The gang tells the Earps that they are going to get it so be ready.  Doc Holliday comes over and suggests that they settle this right now.  There's a chance for a shoot-out, but Ike Clanton avoids the possibility by riding away from the Earps and Holliday.  His gang goes with him. 

Josie and Wyatt are in bed together kissing and she asks about Lamar, Missouri.  Wyatt says he loved a girl there more than he's loved any woman, but she died and he tried to erase everything of her from his mind.  Josie just asks Wyatt to love her as much as he can.  Virgil comes over to get Wyatt.  Mattie has taken an overdose of laudanum  Wyatt tries to talk to Mattie, but she tells him:  "Go back to your Jew whore."  Wyatt leaves her side.  He goes to a saloon and orders a bottle of whisky.  This is very unusual for Wyatt, at least ever since he gave up liquor.  Doc Holliday comes over to see what's wrong.  He suggests to Wyatt that perhaps it would be better if Mattie would die, since . . . it's better for some of us over on the other side.  . . .  For some people, this world ain't ever gonna be right."  Wyatt asks Doc if this is supposed to let him off the hook for what's become of Mattie? 

Ike is drunk in a saloon saying that tomorrow the Earps and Holliday are going to get that fight that they all have been talking about.  Wyatt and Morgan come in and sit down for dinner in the saloon.  All of a sudden Doc Holliday comes marching in fast, telling Ike Clanton that he's heard he wants to kill Doc Holliday.  So he challenges Ike to start shooting.  Ike says he isn't armed.  Doc tells him to go get armed and come back.  Morgan intervenes telling Doc that Ike is not armed and drunk.  Ike leaves the bar.

Josie comes to Wyatt telling him that Ike Clanton says he's going to kill Wyatt.  She asks him to leave Tombstone with her and leave these troubles behind. But Wyatt says he ain't leaving  for anything or anybody.  Josie responds:  "Then give me a gun."  He tells her to go home:  "Thinking of you could get me killed."  Josie tells Wyatt that she loves him and then leaves.

When Wyatt goes back to his room Mattie tells him that if he doesn't break it off with the Jewish woman, she's going to kill herself.  Wyatt says nothing.  He just gets fully dressed.  Mattie tells him:  "Talk to me, you cold-hearted son of a bitch!"  Wyatt calmly tells her:  "There are men out there I may have to kill, Mattie.  I don't have time for this today."  He leaves.  Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil get together.  Virgil says that here today are Ike and Billy Clanton, Frank McLaury and Billy Claiborne.  Virgil asks Wyatt how does he want to handle this situation and all Wyatt says is that he's going to go have some coffee. 

The bartender asks: "Is there gonna be a fight, Wyatt?"  He calmly says:  "I think there must be." 

Back to the present.  Virgil and Morgan come into the nearly empty bar. Wyatt says:  "Let's go."  They go into the street and Doc Holliday shouts where are they going?  The guys are just going to walk down the street.  Holliday joins them.  They walk four abreast down the main street.  Behan sees the guys coming and tries to stop them but the guys won't listen to him.  Morgan tells Holliday to let them have it when they get to the O.K. Corral.  Doc say all right.  When they arrive at the lot by the O.K. Corral, Morgan says:  "You sons of bitches have been looking for a fight.  Now you can have it."  Virgil tells them:  "Throw up your hands.  I want your guns." 

Frank McLaury pulls his gun and Morgan pulls his two guns.  Now everyone gets into the fire fight.  Frank McLaury is hit in the left side of his mid-section.  Wyatt shoots Billy Clayton in the right mid-section.  Bill Claiborne runs away from the fight.  Ike grabs Wyatt's gun arm saying:  "I didn't want this!  No, I ain't armed!  I and Billy!"  Tom McLaury shoots Virgil just below the right knee and Virgil goes down.  Wyatt shoots Billy Clanton.  Morgan is hit in the right shoulder area and goes down, hit by Tom McLaury hiding behind a horse.  Virgil shoots Billy Clayton in the upper chest  Wyatt shoots the horse in the rear to get it out of the way and Doc fires his shotgun into Tom McLaury.  Frank McLaury shoots Doc in the leg.  Wyatt is the only man standing at this point. 

Behan comes and tells Wyatt that he is going to arrest him.  Wyatt shouts at Johnny:  "I'm not gonna be arrested today, Johnny!  Not by you and not by anybody else."  Josie runs to Wyatt and they embrace in the street.  The wounded men of Wyatt's team are taken to Allie Earp's house for medical treatment.  In addition, Mattie has taken another overdose of laudanum.  Lou Earp shouts that all this is Wyatt's fault.  She slaps him across the face.  When things quiet down, Bessie says quietly:  "Well, here we are.  One big happy family."  Wyatt keeps watch on the street from a front window. 

A funeral procession for the three dead men, Frank and Tom McLaury and Billy Clanton from the Clanton-McLaury gang, walks down the street.  Johnny tries to arrest Wyatt again, but Wyatt still refuses to be arrested until he knows his family is going to be all right.  The Earps move to a hotel. 

A trial is held for the Earps and Doc Holliday.  The judge rules that the Earps committed an injudicious offense by confronting the Clantons and McLaurys, but given all the threats against the Earps, their acts cannot be construed as criminal  He order sthe release of Doc Holliday and the Earps.   

Morgan is playing pool when from a back window he is shot in the back.  Morgan falls onto the pool table.  The gang shot him.  They lay Morgan all the way out on the table.  The parlor owner sends his young helper to go get James and Virgil Earp.  The boy yells for Virgil to come to Hatch's right now.  Virgil starts limping over there and he is shot down in the street by the same gang.  Morgan says to Wyatt: "They got me, Wyatt!"  He asks for his wife Luu.  He then whispers something to Wyatt and passes away.  Wyatt is stunned.  Lou comes in and starts screaming over her husband's dead boy.  Wyatt keeps stepping backwards away from the pool table. 

Wyatt goes in to check on Virgil.  The doctor wants to take his right arm off, but Virgil tells Wyatt not to let them do that.  He then starts yelling where's Morgan?  Wyatt looks in on Lou but she is still inconsolable. He goes downstairs to look through the window.  Doc Holliday tells him to get back from the window because he doesn't want someone to take a shot at him.  He tells Wyatt he's sorry for what happened to Morgan and asks Wyatt what does he want to do?  Wyatt says:  "Kill them all."

Warren Earp arrives.  He has come to help with taking Morgan's body to California.  Wyatt goes up to tell Mattie it's time to go to California with Warren and the others.  Mattie says that Wyatt is the only Earp that hasn't been shot. So she fires a pistol at him, but misses.  He tells her she must go because he is going after the men who killed his brother.  He tells her to stop drinking that laudanum or it will kill her.  She says:  "What do you care?"  Wyatt responds:  "I don't anymore." 

The Earps load the casket on the train.  A telegram is handed to Doc Holliday.  He reads it and then says that the sheriff in Tucson says Ike Clanton, Frank Stillwell and some of their friends are in Tucson.  The guys are watching the Tucson trains. 

The train arrives in Tucson.  The Earps are looking for the gang and part of the gang is looking for the Earps.  The whistle blows and the trains starts moving.  One of the gang jumps off the train almost right on top of Wyatt.  Wyatt blasts the guy with one barrel of his shotgun and then, while the man is on the ground, he blasts him with the other barrel.  Another gang member is on the roof of a car and he aims at Wyatt.  Doc Holliday sees him and shoots first, knocking the guy off the roof.  The guy gets up and runs away. 

Wyatt takes out his revolver and starts shooting the corpse over and over again until the cylinder is empty.   Both Doc and Warren think Wyatt is on the edge of insanity. 

Wyatt, Warren, Doc and Sherm come riding into town,  Wyatt receives a telegram that says there's a warrant out for his arrest for killing Frank Stillwell.  Wyatt goes to see Josie in her room and tells her he wants her to go be with her parents in San Francisco for awhile.  He will come and get her once he is through seeing a few men, but he doesn't know when that will be finished.  Josie says to him:  "I'll be your family, Wyatt.  I'll give you children.  We'll make our own place where no one will find us.  And I won't die on you."  They hug and kiss. 

Behan and his deputies stop Wyatt as his group starts to head out of Tombstone.  Johnny says:  "I want to see you."  Wyatt responds:  "Johnny, you're not careful, you'll see me once too often."  The group rides on.

The group comes to a cabin where Indian Charlie is hiding.  Indian Charlie jumps out a back window.  Charlie runs and runs as fast as he can.  Doc tries to kill him shooting at him from his horse.  Indian Charlie comes to a stream where Wyatt waits for him.  Wyatt wants Indian Charlie to draw on him.  Charlie says he won't, but when Doc comes up and points his revolver at Indian Charlie, the fellow tries to draw his weapon.  Wyatt shoots him dead. 

At night Doc tells Wyatt that he can't kill all of them.  He suggests they get out of Arizona, wait until things cool down and then come back for the murderers.  Wyatt tells Doc that he needs to go to the Colorado mountains to be in a sanatorium.   Wyatt also says:  "You've been a good friend to me, Doc."  Doc just says:  "Shut up!"

Wyatt and the boys go through a narrow canyon.  Wyatt is far in the lead.  He gets off his horse and starts looking around.  All of a sudden, a bullet goes through Wyatt's long riding coat.  Wyatt draws his gun and starts returning fire.  Wyatt shoots one and then another man.  Doc shoots a fellow.  Wyatt tries to kill Curly Bill Brocius but runs out of bullets.  Now Curly Bill stands up and comes at Wyatt with his guns blazing away.  Wyatt, as cool as a cucumber, goes over to his horse and grabs his shotgun.  He aims it at Curly Bill who is still firing his pistols, gets scared and starts stepping backwards away from Wyatt. Wyatt kills his man with two blasts from his shotgun. 

The Coast of Alaska.  17 years later.  The Great Gold Rush.  On a large steam boat Wyatt and Josie look over the railing of the ship.  They talk about where they will find the gold they came for.  A young man comes over to Wyatt and Josie.  He asks Wyatt if he is Wyatt Earp?  Yes. The young man shakes Wyatt's hand.  He says Wyatt saved his uncle's life one-time in Tombstone, Arizona.  His uncle was none other than Tommy Behind-the-Deuce.  Josie and Wyatt now know which man the young fellow is referring to.   Tommy had killed a popular miner and the people of Tombstone were going to hang him.  Wyatt was all alone at the jail with Tommy in a cell. 

Flashback.  The mob stops  in front of the jail waiting to hear what Wyatt Earp has to say.  He says the mob's not going to get Tommy.  One of the mob steps up on the steps, but stops when Wyatt points a gun at him.  He says to the crowd:  "You boys can get me.  That won't be any problem with all the guns you got here. But I'm taking 10 or 12 of you with me.  Starting with you, Dick Gird.  And you, McGee.  Maybe you too, Harvey.  So if any of you want Tommy and you want me, come up front with these brave men. And we'll all go together."  

Back to the present.  Tommy was later shot dead in Omaha in 1887.  The young man now leaves. 

"Doc Holliday died six years after the gunfight at the O.K. Corral in a sanitarium in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.  He was 36 years old. 

"Virgil and Allie, James and Bessie remained in California, where they lived out their days working variously as prospectors, barkeeps and policemen.  Allie proved the strongest, living until November 17, 1947  -- twenty-one days shy of her 100th birthday.

"Members of the Clanton gang continued to die mysteriously for years after Morgan's murder.

"Wyatt and Josie remained devoted to each other for the rest of their lives.  Their marriage lasted for forty-seven years.  In 1929, when Wyatt died in Los Angeles at the age of eighty, Josie, as she had promised, was at his side.  Wyatt had never been so much as grazed by a single bullet.  Josie lived another fifteen years.  Their ashes are buried together in Colma, California."

 

I think this is the best western ever made.  I know a lot of artsy-fartsy types will like others, but this film sticks very close to history and has great dialogue.  Wyatt Earp was a man known for his laconic speech and there are a lot of  examples of this in the film  Kevin Costner was great as Wyatt.  I thought his delivery of the laconic statements were perfect.  Wyatt Earp was a very serious person in his performance as a peace officer and actor Kostner catches this persona perfectly.  In all his years of service in law enforcement, Wyatt Earp never once was even wounded by gunfire -- quite a remarkable accomplishment.  He said that, from his observation of  survival in gun fights, he learned that it was more important to be deliberate than fast.  Wyatt is painted both as bad and good as is every man.  The film also brings out how calm Wyatt was under pressure, like running out of bullets fighting Curly Bill Brocius, going deliberately over to his horse to get his shotgun and then come walking right for Curly Bill who is firing away at Wyatt with two pistols.  And yet it was Curly Bill who was frightened and not Wyatt.  Wyatt blows the man away without getting a scratch  himself.  Dennis Quaid was just terrific as Doc Holliday.  That scene where Holliday meets Wyatt for the first time is just great.  Well done, fellows.  Another good performance was Gene Hackman's portrayal of Wyatt's father.  And still another is the performance of Joanna Going (as Josie Earp).

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

Wyatt Earp. 

1848 -- born in Monmouth, Illinois.

1850 -- family moved to Pella, Iowa.

1861-65 -- during Civil War, Wyatt tries to join the army like his brothers, but is sent home by his father, Nicholas Earp.

1864 -- family moves out to California because Nicholas Earp disagrees with freeing the slaves.

1870  -- Wyatt works his way to LaMar, Missouri where he falls in love and marries Urilla Sutherland.

1870  -- Urilla dies of typhus; he would not remarry for another 40 years.

1871-- he becomes a buffalo hunter in Kansas with partner, Bat Masterson.

1873  -  The Chisholm Trail brings cattle, wealth, and cowboys to Kansas.  Wyatt becomes a law officer in Ellsworth, Kansas after arresting gambler Bill Thompson, who the local peace officers, out of fear, would not touch.

1874 -- law officer in Wichita, Kansas, where he put the drop on 21 bad men at one time.

1876 -- moves on to be a peace officer in Dodge City, Kansas (home of the Long Branch saloon); Bat Masterson was there also.

1877 -- Wyatt keeps company with Celia Anne Blaylock, called "Mattie."

1879, December -- Wyatt and Mattie arrive in Tombstone, Arizona (southeast AZ near Mexican border), called there by brother Virgil, a deputy marshal; also there was brother Morgan, also a city policeman.

1880  -- Wyatt becomes a deputy sheriff under Chief Marshal Fred White (who was later killed by the Clanton gang); along the way he falls for Sheriff John Behan's girl, Josie

1881, October 26 -- gunfight at the O.K. Corral; Wyatt, Morgan, and Virgil Earp and Doc Holiday against the Clantons;

Clantons:

Ike Clanton (eldest son) -- at O.K. Corral, he ran off, following the example of Billy Claiborne.

Billy Clanton  -- killed by Wyatt Earp at O.K. Corral.

Billy Claiborne  -- ran off from the battlefield of O.K. Corral

Tom McLaury  -- blown away with blast from both shotgun barrels belonging to Doc Holliday

Frank McLaury  -- shot in the stomach and dies at O.K. Corral

Johnny Ringo  -- not at O.K. Corral

"Curly Bill" Brocius (accused of killing Marshal White)  -- not at O.K. Corral

"Indian Charlie" -- not present

Pete Spence -- not present.

Frank Stillwell -- not present

John Behan -- the lawman for the county who was in the pocket of the Clantons

Virgil was shot in the leg, and Morgan was shot in the side.

Later, the Clanton gang assassinated Morgan and wounded Virgil so badly that he never again could use his left arm.  

Wyatt sought revenge and went after the rest of the Clanton gang.  He blew Frank Stillwell 's brains out with a shot-gun; killed half-breed "Indian Charlie" at Pete Spence's Ranch ; "Curly Bill" Brocius at Iron Springs; and Johnny Ringo near Morse Canyon.  He did not find Pete Spence and Ike Clanton, but both were later killed while engaged in criminal acts.

1882 -- John Behan has to resign in disgrace.

Doc Holliday and Wyatt rode to Colorado, where Wyatt marries Josie.  

1896 -- guest referee at the famous Sharkey-Fitzimmons boxing match.

Went to Alaska for the Alaska Gold Rush..

1901 -- lives between Nevada and California.

1929 -- died in his bed with Josie at his side.

 

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