HTF REVIEW: "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Apr 10, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    [​IMG]

    Gunfight at the O.K. Corral





    Studio: Paramount
    Year: 1957
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 122 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
    Subtitles: English





    Up until last evening, I never saw Gunfight at
    the O.K. Corral
    . Yet somehow, as I watched this
    film, I felt as if I had seen all of it before. This
    western has been spoofed in comedies, Bugs Bunny
    cartoons and by renowned impersonators. The story
    has been retold in several films, and even appeared
    as a storyline in a classic Star Trek episode. Before
    I had even seen a single frame of this movie I was
    already familiar with its names: Wyatt Earp, Doc
    Holliday, Tombstone
    and Dodge City. There
    seems to be no argument that the showdown at the
    O.K. Corral in Tombstone 1888 remains imminent in
    the minds of Americans.


    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Novelist Leon Uris wrote the script for this Western
    directed by John Sturges (The Magnificent Seven,
    The Great Escape) and based on the life and times
    of Wyatt Earp and his sickly companion, Doc Holliday.
    As the film begins we see how two unlikely candidates
    quickly become reluctant allies despite a mutual dislike
    for each other. Wyatt Earp (Burt Lancaster) is the
    U.S. Marshall and Doc Holliday (Kirk Douglas) is the
    town gambler and shootist. When Earp saves Holliday
    from a lynch mob, Holliday later returns the favour
    by helping the Marshall keep the peace in Dodge City.
    These two men not only learn to tolerate and respect
    each other, but soon become very close friends.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    After cleaning up town, Earp decides to quit law
    enforcement in favor of starting a new, peaceful life
    with his girlfriend, Laura Denbow (Rhonda Fleming).
    However, before their marriage, Earp receives a
    telegram urging for help dealing with the Clantons,
    a local clan of thugs and cattle thieves who have
    overrun Tombstone. Despite the pleas of his fiance,
    Wyatt heads out to Tombstone. Doc Holliday soon
    follows him and upon their arrival, they meet up
    with the rest of the Earp clan, including Virgil
    and Morgan (Deforrest Kelly) and younger brother
    James (Martin Milner).

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    The rest of the film deals with the legendary
    October sunrise battle featuring the climactic
    "march" to the O.K. Corral where Doc and the three
    Earps meet their fate side by side.

    As I noted at the beginning of this review, this
    was the first time I had ever this film, and I
    was surprised how quickly I became immersed in
    its story. The casting of Lancaster and Douglas
    together was ingenious. It is apparent that
    Douglas's portrayal of Doc Holliday is one of
    the defining roles of his career. Watching these
    two men expertly play against each other is
    what makes Gunfight at the O.K. Corral one
    of the greatest westerns ever made.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    There are two special points I need to make about
    this film. First, after recently watching High
    Noon
    (another classic I highly recommend), I
    was quite happy to see the return of composer
    Dimitri Tiomkin who not only provides the score
    for this film but repeats an interesting and
    favorable technique of placing some of the film's
    narration in the form of the film's title song
    sung by Frankie Laine. Another interesting note
    is the appearance of a young Deforrest Kelly (Bones
    of Star Trek), who looks a lot like actor Gary
    Sinise -- and an even younger Dennis Hopper who
    appears as one of the Clanton boys


    How is the transfer?


    Get past the opening credits and you'll find the
    transfer of this film to be simply marvelous. The
    print seems to be in almost pristine condition,
    marred only by a few minor blemishes that are
    mostly negligible. The color palette is rather
    limited here, but is rendered very nicely through
    the Technicolor process. Black levels are nice
    and deep -- especially those found in Doc Holliday's
    hat. Image sharpness is very good, sporting
    exceptional detail. I did notice the occasional
    introduction of film grain/noise within some of
    the sky shots, but I consider this normal for a
    film of this age. No doubt you'll be taken back
    by the beautiful shots of the rolling grasslands
    and hills of the American plains. Paramount has
    done an incredible job of restoring this film for
    its DVD presentation.

    [​IMG]

    The original mono soundtrack has obviously been
    cleaned up and is presented robustly through the
    front channels with hardly a sign of clipping,
    distortion or background hiss.


    Special Features

    [​IMG]

    Alas, there is none. I can't help but express my
    dismay at Paramount for releasing what must be
    considered one of the greatest classic westerns
    of our time without any supplemental materials --
    especially when you see the sort of work that
    Fox is doing with their Studio Classics.

    The least Paramount could have done is to include
    a promotional trailer for the film. I am sure that
    something of that sort exists for this film.
    Are there any promotional materials or interviews
    that could have possibly been included here? It
    just seems rather strange that a film of this
    magnitude has been released as a bare-bones DVD.


    Final Thoughts

    [​IMG]

    Once again I am thankful for a format that has
    given me the opportunity to discover a wealth of
    classic films for the very first time. Gunfight
    at the O.K. Corral
    is another one of those
    classics that have left a powerful impact upon me.

    Paramount has given us a first-rate transfer here,
    but I am bothered by the fact that the studio
    totally neglected to give us any sort of bonus
    material, including a promotional trailer.

    If you haven't figured it out already, Gunfight
    at the O.K. Corral
    is an essential DVD purchase.


    Release Date: April 22, 2003


    All screen captures have been further compressed.
    They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
    represent actual picture quality
     
  2. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    never saw this before either, so will just pick this up simply because of Kirk Douglas & Burt Lancaster.

    Yes a shame that there is not even a special feature when you see how Fox really takes care of their classic line.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    Lancaster and Douglas, two of my favorite actors of all time (i'm counting the days till the Swimmer and hopefully some day we'll see Ace in the Hole from Paramount).
    this is one, though, that i haven't seen either...yet.
    looking forward to it.

    while a trailer would have been nice, a good looking OAR transfer is all i really need to be happy.

    this and Nevada Smith are the two movies from this batch i'm most looking forward too (although i will probably take the opportunity to finally see Little Big Man)
     
  4. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Yam, yam. Thanks, Ron. Waiting!

    (Those who are going to love this one, should also keep My Darling Clementine in mind.)

    Cees
     
  5. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    Great to hear that the transfer is excellent. Shot in VistaVision, right?

    Cheers, Ron! [​IMG]


    Gordy
     
  6. Jim Rankin

    Jim Rankin Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Ron, the Western genre is one area my collection is severely lacking in, and I promised myself I would address it this year, this one along with High Noon, The Wild Bunch and The Searchers will be in before long.

    Is anyone else sort of rediscovering Western films in general? I had been dismissive of these films because they were my "dads" films, and there is no way he would know what a good film was![​IMG]
     
  7. Jeff_HR

    Jeff_HR Producer

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  8. Thomas T

    Thomas T Cinematographer

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    Gunfight At The O.K. Corral is one of my all time favorite westerns so I'm dying to get my grubby hands on this.

    You mentioned Rhonda Fleming as Lancaster's love interest, Ron, but you neglected to mention Jo Van Fleet as Kate, Douglas' "love" interest. Their Freudian love/hate relationship is one of the more interesting aspects of the film.
     
  9. Randy Korstick

    Randy Korstick Producer

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    Another good review Ron although I'm still surprised at how many classic or older films you have not seen since you come from the old school of video collecting i.e. VHS to Laserdisc to DVD. VHS and Laserdisc exposed me to many classics and old films back in the 80's and early 90's.

    This is another good one. I agree the performances of Lancaster and Douglas add alot to this film. I enjoy it alot more than Tombstone. I wish they would release the follow up "Hour of the Gun" also done by John Sturges. It finishes the story.
     
  10. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

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    My favorite Wyatt Earp film, great actors, great music, great movie.
    I have to have this on dvd, shame there are no extras though.
     
  11. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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  12. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    The Western genre was so accepted and so ample, in those days, that they were able to cover various and all sorts of different situations and problems of life in those books and films.
    Some were mediocre, some plainly bad, but some were real gems.

    Psychology, moral conduct, luck, adversity, war, politics, the strives of man, you name it and it's covered somewhere in some western movie. The big advantage was: the basic rules were simple and well known and close to early needs for survival, rules of society and communion that are built in the fabric of our minds.
    AND it's about the history and creation of the USoA and its modern society as well.

    It enabled them to sketch the situations and challenges in broad strokes, simple but powerful - and then concentrate on the problem at hand, because we were supposed to already know and understand some of the general details.

    It has led to really powerful films as well as "something for everyone". Something for every taste.
    Almost all other genres seem to exist as a sub-genre of the western as well. OK, I may be slightly exaggerating here now, but it's basically true. Apart from that one limitation: it had to play in the (old, or not so old) west, anything else seemed possible.

    Problems embedded in Frontier Logic. It's a tremendous joy.

    Cees
     
  13. Jeff_HR

    Jeff_HR Producer

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  14. Richard Gilmore

    Richard Gilmore Stunt Coordinator

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    Another classic without supplementary features[​IMG] This film is so ripe for this kind of material. For gosh sakes, get an interview with Kirk Douglas while he is still here with us. I will purchase anyway, based on Ron's notes on the quality of the transfer.
     
  15. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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  16. Doug Fogle

    Doug Fogle Stunt Coordinator

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    Completely off topic,but if you're just discovering clasic westerns be sure to check out the Anthony Mann-Jimmy Stewart ones from the fifties.Bend of the River,The Far country,many more.Stewart played an entirely different persona than his usual"aw shucks" character-much harder,almost cruel sometimes,and i've often wondered how much clint eastwood was influenced by him.My personal favorite westerns.On topic,I'm glad I"m not the only one that likes this film better than Tombstone.
     
  17. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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  18. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Watched my copy today and was very pleased with the dvd presentation. However, like others, I wish some extras were placed on this disc especially considering it's one of the most popular westerns ever made.





    Crawdaddy
     
  19. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

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    Awesome review Ron. This is a big must buy for me. One of the true great westerns. Despite the lack of extras, I'll be happy with what looks to be a great transfer. I just love the more psychological westerns of this period.
     
  20. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    With all respects to Ron, the spelling is "DeForest Kelley". Here finally is a western that this actor appears in before Star Trek we can enjoy.

    Nelson
     

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