Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957)

Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957)Gunfight at the OK Corral was a western released in 1957 by Paramount Pictures. The film focuses on the story of the legendary battle in Tombstone, Arizona between Wyatt Earp and his companions against the Clanton gang. The film featured a variety of stars, including Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster. The film was nominated for two Oscar awards, and has become one of the most famous westerns of all time.

Interestingly, the actual gunfight upon which the film is based lasted only 30 seconds, and resulted in three casualties after 34 bullets were exchanged. The gunfight itself takes up a full five minutes of screen time in the film.

Cast and Crew of Gunfight at the OK Corral

Gunfight at the OK Corral was directed by John Sturges and produced by Hal B. Wallis. The screenplay was written by novelist Leon Uris. Dimitri Tiomkin wrote the score for Gunfight at the OK Corral, and Charles B. Lang Jr. acted as cinematographer. Warren Low provided his editing services for Gunfight at the OK Corral.

Gunfight at the OK Corral includes a bevy of stars, including Burt Lancaster as Wyatt Earp and Kirk Douglas as Doc Holliday. The film is noted for its excellent supporting cast, including Rhonda Fleming, Jo Van Fleet, John Ireland, Lyle Bettger, Frank Faylen, Earl Holliman, Dennis Hopper, DeForest Kelley, Martin Milner, and Lee Van Cleef.

Gunfight at the OK Corral was released on May 30, 1957, with a running length of 122 minutes.

Plot Synopsis for Gunfight at the OK Corral

Gunfight at the OK Corral begins with Ed Bailey and two of his henchmen riding into Fort Griffin, a small town in Texas. The trio hopes to avenge Bailey’s brother’s death at the hands of Doc Holliday, a gunslinger. Kate Fisher warns Holliday of the incoming men, but the two get into a fight when Kate mentions Holliday’s family.

At the same time, Wyatt Earp enters Fort Griffin to find that Cotton Wilson, the town’s marshal, has released outlaws Johnny Ringo and Ike Clanton from jail three days previous, despite warrants for their arrest. Wyatt questions Holliday about the whereabouts of the two outlaws, but Holliday refuses to tell him.

Holliday finds Bailey and challenges him to a pistol duel at Boot Hill. Bailey tries to shoot Holliday in the back, but Holliday reacts quickly and kills Bailey with the throw of a knife. Holliday is arrested for murder, and Wyatt and Kate save Holliday from an angry mob of townspeople.

Wyatt returns to Dodge City, where he learns that Kate and Doc Holliday have also arrived in town. Wyatt orders the two to leave, but Holliday tells him that he has no money with which to travel. Wyatt allows him to stay, under the condition that he doesn’t start any trouble. Laura Denbow arrives in town as well, and attracts Wyatt’s attention. Wyatt informs Laura that female gamblers aren’t allowed in town, and arrests her for disturbing the peace. Holliday and Basset, Wyatt’s deputy, urge him to release Laura, and he concedes, telling her to only gamble in the side rooms of the local saloons.

Cowboys rob a local bank, killing the cashier in the process. Wyatt’s deputies are out on an assignment with Bat Masterson, and Wyatt makes Holliday a deputy. Wyatt informs Holliday that he is only in town to help Wyatt in exchange for saving him in Fort Griffith. Holliday quickly repays his debt when the bank robbers try to kill Wyatt and Holliday. The pair kill the bank robbers.

Basset informs Holliday that Kate has left him in order to join up with Ringo. Although Holliday is obviously upset, he informs Wyatt that he’ll keep his oath and avoid a confrontation with Ringo. Wyatt soon falls in love with Laura, and the two leave town temporarily. While they’re away, Shanghai Pierce and some other cowboys enter Dodge City and begin to cause trouble. Wyatt comes back to town, but is quickly outnumbered by the cowboys. Holliday again saves Wyatt, and the cowboys are arrested. Wyatt informs Holliday that he’s retiring and heading for California with his new love, Laura.

At this time, Wyatt receives a telegram from Virgil, his brother, who asks him for help in Tombstone. Laura decides to stay behind, while Holliday and Wyatt head for Tombstone, Arizona. The Clanton brothers are attempting to illegally ship thousands of cattle on the railway in Tombstone, but cannot do so as the Earps own the railway station. Cotton, the current sheriff, tries to bribe Wyatt into allowing the Clantons to go ahead with the shipment.

Ringo and Kate arrive in town, and Holliday challenges Ringo to a duel, which is called off by Virgil. Wyatt rides to the Clanton ranch and tells the cowboys take their stolen cattle back to Mexico. The Clantons later try to ambush Wyatt that night, but accidentally kill Wyatt’s brother James instead. Holliday questions Kate about the murder, but collapses from tuberculosis.

The cowboys send Billy Clanton into town to ask for a duel with the remaining Earps. Wyatt seeks the help of Holliday, but Kate informs him that Holliday is dying. Six cowboys head into town the following morning to fight the Earps. Holliday decides to join the Earps despite his illness, and they arrive at the OK Corral. Morgan is wounded, and Holliday kills Finn, a cowboy. Two other cowboys are killed, Virigl is wounded, and Wyatt kills Ike Clanton with a shotgun. Billy wounds Holliday, but Holliday chases Ringo into a barn, shooting him. Billy, the only remaining Clanton, is asked to surrender. Wyatt hesitates, and Holliday shoots Billy.

Wyatt and Holliday share a drink, and Wyatt heads to California to join Laura.

Additional Information for Gunfight at the OK Corral

Much of Gunfight at the OK Corral was shot in Old Tucson, near Tombstone. However, this location was used as Fort Griffin, while the Tombstone scenes were filmed in southern California on the Paramount Ranch. The Paramount Ranch was later used in the filming of Bonanza, a television series.

Dennis Hopper, the actor playing the role of Billy Clanton, grew up in Dodge City, Kansas. Gunfight at the OK Corral marked the second screen appearance of Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas as leading men in a film. The two made five additional films together after Gunfight at the OK Corral. Lancaster was always billed above Douglas, despite the fact that the two generally shared equally prominent roles.

Gunfight at the OK Corral is currently available on DVD.