The actual gunfight at the OK Corral, which took place in Tombstone Arizona Territory on the 26th October 1881, was a very messy affair that was all over in 30 seconds. Wyatt Earp, his two brothers Morgan and Virgil and the infamous John Henry “Doc” Holiday were accused of murdering Tom and Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton, but all four were acquitted with Judge Spencer and the court ruling that they had acted ‘wisely, discreetly and prudentially to secure their own preservation’ and ‘were fully justified in committing these homicides and it was a necessary act done in the discharge of official duty’. It was alleged that it was the Earp’s and Holliday’s political and business interests which included prostitution, gambling and protection and the Earp’s investments in the local silver mines which produced six million dollars worth of silver that led to a forced confrontation with the ‘cowboys’ a confederation of outlaws, rustlers and small ranchers.
Frank Perry’s 1971 version of events in Doc or as my copy is called Duelo a Muerle En O.K. Corral is nearer the truth than either the John Ford collaboration with Wyatt Earp My Darling Clementine (1946) or the latter John Sturges version Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957). Perry’s account of this famous gunfight is seen through the eyes of Doc Holliday a graduate of the Baltimore College of Dentistry but far better known for gambling at the card tables and the many killings attributed to him. The film begins with Holliday walking into a bar and inviting himself into an existing card game that included Ike Clanton, he wagers his horse against Clanton’s ‘women’ a certain Ms Kate Elder. Much to the obvious irritation of Clanton Holiday wins his game and transports his prize to Tombstone where the good Dentist is to meet up with his old friend Marshal Wyatt Earp.
Perry is an American stage and film director best known for The Swimmer (1968) starring Burt Lancaster and the 1981 Joan Crawford biopic Mommie Dearest with Faye Dunaway in the title role. A gritty and realistic movie which I enjoyed immensely, Doc stars Stacy Keach as Holliday, Harris Yulin as Wyatt Earp and Faye Dunaway is Kate Elder, a women that was also known as Kate Fisher and unkindly as Big Nosed Kate. Although USA financed it was shot in the Almeria district of Southern Spain, this and the fact they used local extras made the film closely resembles a Spaghetti Western. Indecently I purchased my DVD from a market stall for 4 euro’s in the Spanish town of Carboneras, which is no great distance from where this film was actually made!
|Tombstone in the 1880's|