Tombstone (1993)

tombstone poster 1993
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good Western from a period of time when Westerns were dead

Still has some of the Western pacing

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Tombstone

Studio:  Hollywood Pictures/Cinergi Pictures Entertainment/Alphaville Films

Genre(s):  Western/Action/Adventure/Drama

Release Date(s):  December 25, 1993

MPAA Rating:  R

tombstone doc holliday vs johnny ringo michael biehn val kilmer kurt russell powers boothe

What’s up, Doc?

Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) has moved to Tombstone to put his past behind him.  He’s joined by his brothers Virgil (Sam Elliott) and Morgan (Bill Paxton)…but despite his law days in the past, the problems of the West could force action.  When Morgan and Virgil decide they have to get involved, Wyatt finds himself pulled into action.  With Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer) at their side, the Earps are out to clean up Tombstone…and there is a showdown coming at the O.K. Corral.

Directed by George P. Cosmatos, Tombstone is a Western drama.  The film is based on the events leading up to the O.K. Corral (October 26, 1881) and the fallout after it, and was well received by critics and a box office success.

Westerns were almost dead.  Unforgiven and Dances with Wolves gave them a little critical revival and movies like Young Guns and Tombstone gave them a popular return.  Tombstone is a fun ride and one of the more palpable Westerns for those who don’t like Westerns.

tombstone wyatt earp virgil morgan kurt russell sam elliott bill paxton mustaches

Don’t mess with the Earps…or their mustaches

A lot of Wyatt Earp movies focus on the “Showdown at the O.K. Corral” and use it as the final piece of work.  Tombstone takes a different approach and shows a lot of what happened after the O.K. Corral and how the actions of the Earps actually had more ramifications.  The post-O.K. Corral makes the movie more of a stand-out and puts some ambiguity on the Earps’ actions.

The cast is good.  Kurt Russell, Bill Paxton, and Sam Elliott make up the Earp brothers and all do a decent job giving more character to their roles.  I’m not the biggest Val Kilmer fan, but he excels at the sickly Doc Holliday.  They are all backed by a good back-up cast of Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, Jason Priestley, Stephen Lang, Michael Rooker, Billy Zane, Terry O’Quinn, Thomas Haden Church, Charlton Heston, and Western mainstay Harry Carey Jr. (with Robert Mitchum providing narration).  The roles for women are rather slim but Dana Delany does a decent job as the romantic interest of Wyatt Earp.

tombstone doc holliday death wyatt earp kurt russell val kilmer

I’ll be your huckleberry now

The movie looks good.  It still looks like a classic Western, but it also has a grittiness to it.  It is largely shot in and around Arizona and the movie used the classic Western set of Old Tucson as well.  The movie does modernize some of the gunfights and doesn’t have the typical he shoots, they shoot style of early Westerns.

Tombstone is a nice modern Western.  You could pass it off as a regular “action” movie and not consider it a Western, but if you are a fan of Westerns, you should see Tombstone.  It shows how Westerns can survive in modern times and how to bring in a younger audience…and thanks to Tombstone (in part), you do see Westerns pop up from time to time (and that isn’t a bad thing).

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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