Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)

“We’re not going to start a life together with a gun in your hand.”

Famed sheriff Wyatt Earp (Burt Lancaster) — who falls in love with a beautiful gambler (Rhonda Fleming) — seeks help from his consumptive friend Doc Holliday (Kirk Douglas) in a shootout taking place in Tombstone, Arizona.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Burt Lancaster Films
  • Dennis Hopper Films
  • John Ireland Films
  • John Sturges Films
  • Kirk Douglas Films
  • Lee Van Cleef Films
  • Sheriffs and Marshals
  • Westerns

John Sturges directed and novelist Leon Uris wrote the screenplay for this fictionalized cinematic rendering of an oft-filmed event in American history. It’s a nicely shot western, with beautiful cinematography by Charles Lang and a standout performance by Jo Van Fleet as Doc Holliday’s boozy girlfriend:

Unfortunately, the rest of the storyline — overlong at 2+ hours — isn’t all that distinctive. While Lancaster and Douglas are believable as stoically loyal pals:

… Rhonda Fleming’s role as Lancaster’s love-interest isn’t well fleshed out:

… and we don’t get a strong sense of why so much tension has built between the Earps and the Clantons. Meanwhile, the title song as sung by Frankie Laine is simply an earworm (be forewarned).

Note: Watch for young Dennis Hopper as Billy Clanton.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Charles Lang’s cinematography
  • Jo Van Fleet as Kate
  • The exciting shootout sequence

Must See?
No, though western fans will likely be curious to check it out.

(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)


One thought on “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)

  1. First viewing (12/22/21).

    Only for die-hard western fans. Among the dullest of westerns… this thing is s-l-o-w, without the benefit of anything resembling tension. Scene after scene is turgid.

    It all *looks* ok, in a major studio sort of way (which is to say, things often look a bit too clean). But it simply lumbers along, even though there is a skirmish of some sort from time to time.

    By the time we get to the ten-minute climax, it’s staged alright but it’s quite hard to be invested at that point.

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