Gunfight at the O.K. Corral – UHD Blu-ray Review

4 Stars Classic Lancaster-Douglas Western debuts on UHD
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral Review

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. When Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas first appeared together in Byron Haskin’s 1948 film noir I Walk Alone, few could have guessed that this would be the beginning of a memorable collaboration between the two leading men that would span decades. When they next appeared together in a film a decade later, it would be the fourth screen retelling of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona in 1881; it would also pair them with a director still fresh off of what would be his only Oscar nomination for Best Director for Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), John Sturges. Previously released on DVD and Blu-ray by Paramount, Kino has licensed the movie for its UHD Blu-ray debut.

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)
Released: 30 May 1957
Rated: Passed
Runtime: 122 min
Director: John Sturges
Genre: Biography, Drama, Western
Cast: Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Rhonda Fleming
Writer(s): Leon Uris, George Scullin
Plot: Lawman Wyatt Earp and outlaw Doc Holliday form an unlikely alliance which culminates in their participation in the legendary Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
IMDB rating: 7.1
MetaScore: 56

Disc Information
Studio: Paramount
Distributed By: Kino Lorber
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 2 Hr. 2 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray
Case Type: Black keep case with slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: A
Release Date: 02/27/2024
MSRP: $39.99

The Production: 4/5

First crossing paths in Fort Griffin, Texas, Marshal Wyatt Earp (Burt Lancaster) helps gunslinger Doc Holliday (Kirk Douglas) escape from a lynch mob after Holliday kills a rival gunslinger in self-defense. When they cross paths again in Dodge City, Kansas, Earp deputizes Holliday – out of necessity – to stop a group of killer bank robbers; at the same, both men are dealing with issues involving the women in his life: Holliday’s longtime companion Kate Fisher (Jo Van Fleet) has left him for outlaw Johnny Ringo (John Ireland) while Earp has fallen for gambler Laura Denbow (Rhonda Fleming). However, when they both arrive in Tombstone to help Wyatt’s brothers deal with outlaw Ike Clanton (Lyle Bettger) and his gang of cattle rustlers, both Earp – now a U.S. Marshal – and Holliday will confront the Clantons (after they kill one of the Wyatt brothers during one fateful night) in a gunfight that will etch their names in Old West folklore.

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral follows in the footsteps of its previous theatrical incarnations in showing some of the mythos behind the famed event, but also departs from those adaptations as well. Instead of using the Stuart N. Lake book Frontier Marshal – which was the basis for the three previous films on the O.K. Corral, including John Ford’s immortal My Darling Clementine (1946) – screenwriter (and novelist) Leon Uris used George Scullin’s 1954 article for Holiday magazine entitled The Killer as the basis for his script for this take on the legendary showdown in Tombstone; here, Uris looks at the dynamic between Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday from their first meeting in Fort Griffin to Dodge City and Tombstone as well as adding a few more details and characters not previously covered or mentioned in past film adaptations. Here, John Sturges – who guides the film with a sure hand throughout – has the virtues of Charles Lang’s stunning VistaVision cinematography, Dimitri Tiomkin’s propulsive music score (and equally memorable title song sung by Frankie Laine), Warren Low’s Oscar-nominated film editing and the usual high quality production values from Paramount stalwarts Edith Head (costume designer) Hal Pereira, Walter H. Tyler and Sam Comer (the production design team here). Much like its cinematic predecessors, the film does take quite a few liberties with the facts – including the climactic shootout, which was much shorter in real life than it’s depicted here – but Sturges does elicit quality performances from his ensemble cast. In the end, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral is still one of the best westerns of the 1950’s and one of the best films in the careers of many of its cast and crew; Sturges would return to Tombstone for a more matter of fact adaptation of the events surrounding the shootout and its aftermath with Hour of the Gun (1967).

Bringing his usual strong presence to the part of Wyatt Earp, Burt Lancaster has one of his roles in his appearances in Westerns; Kirk Douglas’ usual intense charm also works well for his portrayal of Doc Holliday. Still relatively fresh off of her Oscar win for Best Supporting Actress for her film debut in East of Eden (1955), Jo Van Fleet makes for a definitive Kate Fisher (AKA Big Nose Kate); Rhonda Fleming – “The Queen of Technicolor” – also makes a notable impression as the gambler whom Wyatt falls in love with. As Ike Clanton, Lyle Bettger adds to his roster of memorable villainous performances while John Ireland brings intensity to the part of Johnny Ringo; Earl Holliman – fresh off of a Golden Globe nominated performance alongside co-star Lancaster in The Rainmaker (1956) – makes the most of his time on the screen as Dodge City deputy sheriff Charlie Bassett. Filling out the ensemble cast here are Frank Faylen as Fort Griffin sheriff Cotton Wilson, Ted de Corsia as rancher Shanghai Pierce, Whit Bissell as Indian agent John Clum, George Mathews as bar owner John Shanssey, John Hudson, DeForest Kelley and Martin Milner as – respectively – Wyatt’s brothers Virgil, Morgan and James, Lee Van Cleef as Ed Bailey (whose quest for revenge against Holliday goes badly), future director Brian G. Hutton as Bailey’s fellow gunslinger Rick, Jack Elam as Clanton henchman Tom McLaury, Kenneth Tobey as Bat Masterson, Don Castle as a drunken cowboy who nearly picks a fight with Wyatt, Olive Carey as the Clanton matriarch, Bing Russell as the bartender in Shanssey’s bar, Glenn Strange as a Pierce henchman and Dennis Hopper in one of his earliest film roles as Billy Clanton, just to name a few.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

The film is presented in its original 1:85:1 aspect ratio, taken from a brand new HDR/Dolby Vision master created by Paramount Pictures from a 4K scan of the original 35mm camera negative; the UHD Blu-ray disc presents the film in HDR while the accompanying Blu-ray disc – which also features the newly created HD transfer – presents the film in SDR. Film grain, color palette, shadows and fine details are all presented faithfully with minimal cases of scratches, tears and dirt present on the transfer. Overall, this release is likely the best the movie will ever look on home video and easily surpasses all previous home video editions.

Audio: 5/5

There are two DTS-HD Master Audio tracks for this release: a 2.0 lossless track and a 5.1 surround track on both UHD Blu-ray and Blu-ray discs. Both tracks showcase strong and clear presentations in dialogue, sound mix and Dimitri Tiomkin’s rollicking music score with minimal cases of distortion, crackling, popping and hissing present. Overall, this release is likely the best the movie will ever sound on home video.

Special Features: 3/5

On both UHD Blu-ray and Blu-ray discs

Commentary by author/screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner and film historian Henry Parke – Recorded for this release, Joyner and Parke both go into great detail about the film’s production as well as differences between this screen version of the famed gunfight and previous film versions.

On Blu-ray disc only

Theatrical Trailer (2:13)

Bonus KLSC Trailers – The Devil’s DiscipleVera CruzThe TrainValdez is ComingThe Indian FighterPaths of GloryLonely Are the BraveBacklashThe Great EscapeThe Satan Bug Joe Kidd

Overall: 4/5

A hit with both critics and audiences upon first release, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral is one of the best – although not entirely factual – cinematic accounts of the legendary Old West showdown that stands as a high point in the careers of its director and two leading men. Kino has done another quality job here, with a strong HDR transfer and an informative commentary track as a bonus feature. Very highly recommended and absolutely worth upgrading from previous DVD and Blu-ray releases.

Mychal has been on the Home Theater Forum’s reviewing staff since 2018, with reviews numbering close to 300. During this time, he has also been working as an assistant manager at The Cotton Patch – his family’s fabric and quilting supplies business in Keizer, Oregon. When not working at reviewing movies or working at the family business, he enjoys exploring the Oregon Coast, playing video games and watching baseball in addition to his expansive collection of movies on DVD, Blu-ray and UHD, totalling over 3,000 movies.

Post Disclaimer

Some of our content may contain marketing links, which means we will receive a commission for purchases made via those links. In our editorial content, these affiliate links appear automatically, and our editorial teams are not influenced by our affiliate partnerships. We work with several providers (currently Skimlinks and Amazon) to manage our affiliate relationships. You can find out more about their services by visiting their sites.

Share this post:

Most Popular
Available for Amazon Prime