The Main Event
This home page picture is part of the poster for "The Main Event" -- the Gunfight at the OK Corral©" (The daily reenactment here in Tombstone) These four characters are sorta the trademark of Tombstone, (the town) . Below is the actual poster from the movie Tombstone (1993).
Can you name the characters, left to right??.
[Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer), Virgil Earp (Sam Elliott), Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell), Morgan Earp (Bill Paxton)]
Anomalies. Sometimes, Virgil is shown carrying a shotgun. In reality (and in the movie) he gave his shotgun to Doc, and took Doc's cane, which he carried down to the site of the battle. Scenes in the movie show him with and without the cane! Wyatt looks a lot taller in this picture. Actually, Sam Elliot is about the same height that Virgil was (6"2) and Kurt Russell (5'9") is a lot shorter than Wyatt was (6") and a lot older. Wyatt was 33, Kurt was 42.
The coats are long, with deep pockets, and the lawmen carried their sideguns in a long pocket. Doc wore two capes; Virg and Morg wore frock coats. Wyatt, in the picture, is wearing a topcoat or duster. Tombstone, in October, is chilly, so these clothes are quite appropriate. (There was actually a little snow on October 26, 1881)
The Gunfight lasted 30 seconds; three men were killed and two were wounded. It is fairly faithfully reproduced here on YouTube.
A lengthy inquest (not a trial) was held, but never fully established exactly what happened in that 30 seconds. This movie is closer than most. [The gunfight in John Sturges' Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957) lasted 30 minutes, and was spread all over town!! I'm sure John's friends gave him a bad time about it, to the point where he redid it in Hour of the Gun (1967)] The entire film is now available on YouTube and I discuss it briefly here.
YouTube will show you a couple of interesting things. Doc fires three shots from his double-barreled "coachgun" without reloading! Later, he did a lot of sidegun shooting without reloading. Wyatt's line to Sheriff Johnny Behan "I don't think I'm going to let you arrest us today" is well documented. Wyatt and John both had a history with Josie Marcus and this is reflected in the looks they all give each other. (Some people think that Behan actually staged the gunfight to eliminate Wyatt.)
Robert B. Parker's book Gunman's Rhapsody, altho fiction, will give you some good insights into this rivalry. It is also documented in Josie Earp's book I Married Wyatt Earp: -- which was made into a movie (Marie Osmond played Josie).
Big Nosed Kate -- Doc's girlfriend -- related that he sat on the edge of the bed after the fight, shaking his head and saying "It was just terrible, terrible!"
Doc (1971) has a different take on the main event. Eight men are killed, for one thing!!
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