In the 1870's, following the Civil War, Wyatt Earp's family, headed by father Nicholas Earp (Hackman) decides to move to California. In the meantime, Wyatt, studying to be a lawyer, takes a part time job as a Deputy Sheriff in Wichita, Kansas.
He takes over as Sheriff after proving his bravery, and soon moves to Dodge City, Kansas, as Marshall, because he can take his brothers Morgan and Virgil with him as deputies.
In Dodge City, he develops quite a reputation for being rough with anyone who gets in his way, preferring to use his gun rather than a persuasive personality.
While being the Marshall keeps him busy enough, he takes the time to act as a card dealer in his brother's saloon, and talks of moving yet again, to Tombstone, Arizona, where he thinks he and his brothers can start several businesses and make a lot of money, rather than risking their lives getting shot at by hoodlums.
The wives (and girlfriends) go along hesitantly, and soon, everyone finds that businesses are not so easy to run. Again, they take jobs as law officers.
The Clanton gang makes trouble, and the Earps, along with Doc Holliday (Quaid) walk to the O.K. Corral for one of the most famous gun battles in Western history.
There have been many films about Earp and the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, but this is the best one. At more than 3 hours, the movie might seem ponderous at times, but I really enjoyed the whole story.
Quaid does a remarkable job as Holliday, a dentist-come-gambler-and-gunslinger who is dying of tuberculosis. There are glimpses of other young actors who would become famous in their own right, including Tea Leoni, and Tom Sizemore as Bat Masterson. And, of course, Gene Hackman is superb as usual. However, Costner, who stars and produces the film, is a wishy-washy, klutzy actor. In spite of that, this movie is a classic, with a great story of the famous Earp and his brothers, terrific action, and beautiful scenery.
The film has been completely retransferred from the 1994 original, and has top notch video quality. This has to do with being on two double-layered discs. No shortcuts here.
There are many scenes at night, and the video quality is good enough for this disc to be used in testing black levels in projectors.
The original audio was Dolby Matrix, but has been completely redone in Dolby Digital. All channels are active and quite discrete. The film score is marvelous.
There are a few extras, including Behind-the-Scenes, Making Of, Deleted Scenes, and Trailers.
The Bottom Line
This is truly a collector's DVD. I don't know how much of the story is legend vs. truth. I am sure there is a lot of embellishment, but it certainly works for me.
- John E. Johnson, Jr. -