Tombstone


Tombstone

[Video] [JPGs] [Narrator] “2007: The S&P is falling & the resulting economic crisis The Great Recession. Banks, real estate developers & insurance companies’ stocks are plummeting. People are losing their jobs – becoming killers & thieves to seek their fortune. Thugs turn neighborhood bars into armed camps, with robbery & murder rates higher than those in New York or Los Angeles today. Out of this chaos comes extensive funding for lawmen. Those who’d previously retired their badges & guns to start a peaceful life with family, preparing to live out their lives as southern gentlemen reconsider as silver is discovered in order to serve & protect America. People turn to alcohol & black market opiates like Delaudid to ease their pain. And once again, there’s money to be made through organized crime in America. Attracted to this atmosphere of greed, membership in ruthless biker gangs, recognized by the custom-decorated motorcycle jackets (or colors) they wear…skyrockets. 2 Greater Waterbury gangs fight for control of Naugatuck. They call themselves The Hell’s Angels…and The Outlaws. The Outlaws control the Borough’s Union Street Station Café: Clayton Reynolds, Proprietor, where Cindy & I go for pre-movie Happy Hour on Tuesdays. Now if it appears my hypocrisy knows no bounds, that I claim to be a hippie but prefer The Outlaws, the anti-Christ, Faust or the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, know this: I’m not a hypocrite; I just like to sound like one. Or if I am, my hypocrisy goes only so far. The Outlaws did not come out until after sundown, as we found out one enchanted moment when our film started late. [Brit] ‘Interesting little scene, my dear. Set your gaze upon him: The quintessential biker type. He’s got the look of both predator & prey.’, I told her. On 8/9/07, The Outlaw Michael [ZAD-stad] Sjaadstad murdered 35 year old Eric Anderson in the Café’s parking lot for wearing a Hell’s Angels t-shirt in the bar that night. Left his body laying dead in the creek beside it, face in the water, as if to say ‘Take a good look at him. ‘Cause that’s how you’re gonna end up if you wear those colors in here!’ 8 years later, The Outlaws & their gang control over the Café was broken forever. Clayton died of a heart attack on 2/20/15. Among the mourners at his wake were Outlaws and Hell’s Angels. They wept.”

 

Gang rivalries have been around for man’s entire history; some times are worse than others; like in the Old West, especially in the infamous AZ silver mining town of George P. Cosmatos’ Tombstone, where Wyatt, Virgil & Morgan Earp, and Doc Holliday’s (Kurt Russell, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton & Val Kilmer) famous gunfight with Ike & Billy Clanton and Tom & Frank McLaury (Stephen Lang, Thomas Haden Church, John Philbin & Robert Burke) at the O.K. Corral on Allen St. at 3 pm on 10/26/1881. The true gunfight was 6 buildings behind the Corral on Fremont St. The film won Val Kilmer MTV’s Best Male Performance and Most Desirable Male Movie Awards. For that latter, I award MTV this Oscar for Grossest Movie Award Ever Given.

 

The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral has long been a favorite topic of moviemakers. There have been 7 other features about it, including John Sturges’ most famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral from 1957, adapted by Leon Uris and starring Burt Lancaster & Kirk Douglas, which was nominated for Best Film Editing and Sound Recording at the 30th Academy Awards, the only film about the shootout to receive an Oscar nomination. The 1st was 1932’s Law and Order written by John Huston & starring his father Walter; the most recent, Wyatt Earp in ’94 with Kevin Costner in the title role; a role for which Val Kilmer was MTV Movies’ Most Desirable Male a year earlier in George P. Cosmatos’ Tombstone.
Post-Film Discussion Notes

 

Costume & Props: Thumb Drive; Mini-Oscar for Grossest Movie Award Ever

 

Why is there a huge sunsetting panoramic scene as Doc leaves Tucson? It’s reminiscent of Gone With the Wind, and perhaps reminder that this too is a civilization Gone With the Wind.

 

In the Bird Cage, an actual theatre/saloon/gambling hall/brothel which anachronistically opened on 12/26/1881, exactly 2 months after the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, vignettes of Henry V and Faust are performed. Why? Henry V centers around The Battle of Agincourt in the Hundred Years War, a foreshadowing & symbol of the battle to come. In the Battle, outnumbered England is victorious over France. And Faust sells his soul to the devil to live forever, which, symbolically, the impending gunfight will facilitate for the combatants.

 

On 2 different occasions, Johnny Ringo (Michael [Bean] Biehn, who plays Reese in The Terminator) challenges Wyatt to a shootout: The first time, Wyatt walks into the Oriental the day after the gunfight at the O.K. Corral (10/27/1881); the second, he awaits his arrival at the big oak when Ringo is killed (7/13/1882). Both times, Doc Holliday says “I’m your huckleberry.”. Why? Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was published in 1876, 5 years before the O.K. Corral & 6 before Ringo’s death (officially suicide, which is why Doc tells Wyatt “Poor soul, he was so high-strung. Afraid the strain was more than he could bear.”). Adventures of Huckleberry Finn would not be published in the USA until February 1885, 3 years after Ringo’s death. Huck was Tom’s sidekick. And Doc is saying to Ringo, he’s not available. You’ll have to settle for his sidekick; his right hand man. Ringo is surprised & afraid at the oak because supposedly Doc is a more skilled pistoleer.

 

Why does Cosmatos show a building ablaze as the Earp’s & Holliday head to the O.K. Corral? In real life, fires were commonplace in Tombstone at the time, and the O.K. Corral burnt to the ground on 5/25/1882. Only the sign that hung suspended from 2 poles remained. Symbolically, what’s about to happen is, as the Mexican man predicted when he quoted Revelations “Behold a pale horse. And the one that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.” And then, after Wyatt shoots Stillwell (Tomas Arana) at the Tucson Train Station, he says to Ike “…I’m [Death] comin’; and Hell’s comin’ with me….”

 

Do you remember what Wyatt does when Morgan dies? He looks at his blood-covered hands.

Why? Because he feels that it is his fault; that he has Morgan’s blood on his hands.

Nonetheless, he takes revenge with his deputized posse of Holliday, Sherman McMaster (Michael Rooker), Turkey Creek Johnson (Buck Taylor), and Texas Jack Vermillion (Peter Sherayko), along with 2 others Charlie Smith & Tip Tipton in real life, in the legendary Earp Vendetta Ride. Why? Because both history & Cosmatos want us to realize that neither Earp nor Holliday nor any of these people, be they Cowboys or lawmen, were good guys. The cops, so to speak, were criminals as well.

Why does Behan align himself w/ the Cowboys? To make the point well in advance of the Earps & Holliday’s merciless vengeance, that lawmen in the Old West were corrupt & themselves not at all law-abiding

Do you think Cosmatos wants us to think the end justifies the means? Sort of. But the posse is definitely portrayed as ruthless murderers. Only at the very end, when they let Ike Clanton go after he discards his red sash, do they show any mercy at all.

Why is Ike portrayed as a coward? In the real gunfight, he ran away claiming to be unarmed. Speculation abounds that the Earps & Doc went to the gunfight looking to kill them; that they Cowboys were heading out of town. So he could have been unarmed in reality, although this is unlikely in Tombstone in 1881 regardless of the ordinance that Virgil posted. He probably was not a coward but was just truly afraid of the Wyatt & Doc whose reputations preceded them everywhere they went. So, to me, this is why he is portrayed as such: To demonstrate how feared the duo was. The Vendetta let him go and he was gunned down by Det. Jonas Brighton on 6/1/1887 in Eagle Creek AZ when he wouldn’t surrender to charges of cattle-rustling, not in a robbery attempt as Narrator Robert Mitchum says in the Epilogue. His brother Phineas surrendered, further evidence that Ike’s portrayal as a coward was symbolism.

 

What are the major themes of the film? Brotherhood; Abusive Gangs (Law Breakers and Lawmen); Revenge; Drug Addiction; True Love; Bravery & Sacrifice

 

Trivia

  • Budget $25M; box office $56.5M; US rentals $26M; filmed 5/17/93 – 8/28/93; released 12/25/93
  • Original director & writer Kevin Jarre was fired early in filming for unwillingness to abbreviate his screenplay. He directed only the scenes w/ Charlton Heston (Henry Hooker). Kurt Russell claims to have directed most of the film thereafter & that Cosmatos was there mainly to unsure the rest of the production & post-production ran smoothly. Whether that claim is apocryphal is debatable, and hence I refer to the film & scenes as Cosmatos’.
  • The film is dedicated to Birgitta C. This is George P. COsmatos’ wife, who died of cancer on 7/7/97 at 47. George died of lung cancer at 64 on 4/19/05.
  • Hooker did provide refuge for Earp & his posse during the Earp Vendetta Ride
  • The character Mr. Fabian (Billy Zane) is made up & Josie was never held up on a stagecoach
  • The Gilbert & Sullivan play that Josie’s in in Denver (which never happened, though the troupe did perform it in Tombstone when Wyatt first got into town) was H.M.S. Pinafore, about romantic love that breaks socioeconomic classes. In that obligatory scene, Josie tells Wyatt that she’s wealthy & the play symbolizes their relationship. Earp, however, was not poor.
  • Billy Claiborne is played by Wyatt Earp’s distant cousin Wyatt Earp
  • Doc plays one of Chopin’s Nocturnes in the Oriental. This is significant because it’s thought that Frédéric Chopin also died of TB. He was well under 100 lbs when he died.
  • Note that, in both of the 2 filmed close-up deaths, Morgan & Doc’s, the characters expel their last breaths slowly & audibly, as if their souls are leaving their bodies
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