Quick Hit: The best use of mustaches this side of the Mississippi.
Westerns are awesome. It’s really a shame we don’t have too many more. We have movies that hold onto the Western ideals, and now we have the terrific Westworld that is combining Science Fiction and Westerns. There are usually a few that hit theaters occasionally, but most are remakes (like The Magnificent Seven). However, back in the 90s, we saw a resurgence of Westerns – specifically ones about Wyatt Earp. There were two in fact that were being made simultaneously (much like our current obsession with Robin Hoods and King Arthurs that are popping up in gritty remakes coming to a theater near you!), one starring Kevin Costner at the height of fame, and the other this one: Tombstone.
Before we get started, allow me to regale you with some fun facts about this film. First, all the mustaches are real. I repeat: all the mustaches are real. That’s incredible, because look at these bad boys!
Next, there are 85 speaking parts in this film. Most films maybe break into 10-15 range, so having 85 is incredibly different than what we are used to seeing now. This has its benefits and its pitfalls: it makes the story feel more organic to have characters actually interacting with people that aren’t just cardboard cut-out extras, but it also means that people who seem like they might have a larger role disappear into the saloons, never to be seen again.
This led for a tremendous amount of acting from a variety of different actors. Billy Bob Thornton, Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliot, Bill Paxton, Charlton Heston, Stephen Lang, Thomas Haden Church, Michael Rooker, Billy Zane… they all appear in this movie. And more! So with that many actors trying to share the screen, it’s no wonder that at times the scenes turn out terrific and at other times turn out messy. But it’s an ambitious mess, and damned if it isn’t fun as hell.
The plot is simple: Wyatt (Russell) wants to retire. He moves to a town away from where he is known, and attempts it. Once there however, outlaws are having their way with the town. Brothers Virgil (Sam Elliott) and Morgan (Bill Paxton) quickly turn back into lawmen and begin to establish order in the town. Wyatt resists however, until events lead him on a path for vengeance and reckoning. There is also an extra-marital love story – but that tends to get lost in the guns blazing action of the whole thing.
Despite the fun gun fights and the extreme authenticity brought to several by their roles (here I want to give an extreme shout out to Sam Elliott – he’s much better in this than the Ram commercials), the real reason to watch this film is Kilmer’s Doc Holliday. He knocks it out of the park. His lines are delivered with perfect gusto and drawl. His physical acting is perfectly on par. He also shows tremendous control of his face and body – playing a man that is dying but still participating in gun battles is hard to make believable, but I bought it here.
“I’m your huckleberry” – here’s to you Doc Holliday. This gif's for you.
I’m going to give Tombstone a “B+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"