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Wyatt Earp - on the Screen

Updated on August 13, 2015
Wyatt Earp
Wyatt Earp
Tombstone, looking east, the main entrance to the OK Corral in clump of trees.
Tombstone, looking east, the main entrance to the OK Corral in clump of trees.
Doc Holliday
Doc Holliday

Quick Facts: Legendary lawman Wyatt Earp was born in 1848.

Before becoming a lawman Wyatt Earp's jobs included farmer, miner, bouncer, teamster, boxing referee and Saloon-keeper. Wyatt's brother James had once owned a brothel in Dodge City.

Wyatt took up the position of Chief Deputy Marshal of Dodge City in 1876.

In 1879 Wyatt, his brothers James, Virgil and Morgan and their wives moved to Tombstone, Arizona. And before long Doc Holliday joined them. Tombstone was one of the last hellholes of the wild west, teeming with gamblers, rustlers, prostitutes, gunmen and thieves.

The Clantons along with Johnny Ringo, Curly Bill Brocius and the McLaury brothers were the worst troublemakers in Tombstone and part of an outlaw gang known as the Cowboys, sooner or later the Earps would have to deal with them.

The most famous gunfight in the history of the Old West took place in Tombstone at 3pm on Wednesday, October 26th 1881 and lasted just 30 seconds, it was Wyatt, Morgan, Virgil and Doc Holliday against Ike and Billy Clanton, Frank and Tom McLaury and Billy Claiborne.

Three men were killed at the Gunfight at the OK Corral - Billy Clanton and the two McLaury brothers. Virgil and Morgan Earp were injured, as was Doc Holliday. Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne escaped the gunfight unwounded.

In 1882 Morgan Earp was shot in the back and killed while playing pool. Wyatt Earp swore vengeance and rode off with Doc Holliday and some deputies to finish off Curly Bill Brocius and the other Cowboys.

Curly Bill was cornered at Iron Springs and shot dead by Wyatt Earp. Ike Clanton escaped Wyatt's wrath but was later shot and killed while cattle rustling.

Johnny Ringo was found dead by a tree with a single bullet wound to the head, the official verdict was suicide. But others believe that Wyatt or Doc had caught up with Ringo.

Amazingly in all those shootouts Wyatt Earp was never shot and wounded, the closest he got was a bullet hole in his coat at the OK Corral, he also had the heel of his boot shot off.

Wyatt first met John Henry 'Doc' Holliday in Fort Griffin, Texas in 1877 and they remained friends until Doc's death from tuberculosis in 1887, aged 36.

Wyatt Earp died of prostate cancer in 1929, he was 81. Hollywood cowboys Tom Mix and William S. Hart were pallbearers at his funeral.

Randolph Scott and Nancy Kelly in Frontier Marshal (1939)
Randolph Scott and Nancy Kelly in Frontier Marshal (1939)

Randolph Scott as Wyatt Earp in Frontier Marshal (1939) Directed by Allan Dwan and also starring Nancy Kelly, Cesar Romero as Doc Holliday, John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr, Eddie Foy Jr and Ward Bond. Music by David Raksin. 71mins.

Randolph Scott is the first actor to play "Wyatt Earp" though there was a previous version of Frontier Marshall in 1934 with George O'Brien playing a character named "Michael Wyatt".

IMDB rating 6.7

Tombstone: The Town Too Tough too Die (1942)
Tombstone: The Town Too Tough too Die (1942)





Tombstone: The Town Too Tough to Die (1942) Directed by William C. McGann and starring Richard Dix as Wyatt Earp, Edgar Buchanan as Curly Bill, Frances Gifford, Don Castle, Rex Bell as Virgil Earp, Kent Taylor as Doc Holliday and Victor Jory as Ike Clanton. Music by Gerard Carbonara. 79mins.

Tagline - TOO TOUGH FOR DODGE CITY...He Brings His Guns To The Devil's Own Stamping Grounds

IMDB rating 7.0

Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp in My Darling Clementine
Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp in My Darling Clementine
Henry Fonda and Victor Mature in My Darling Clementine
Henry Fonda and Victor Mature in My Darling Clementine
My Darling Clementine (1946) poster
My Darling Clementine (1946) poster

My Darling Clementine (1946) Directed by John Ford and starring Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp, Linda Darnell as Chihuahua, Victor Mature as Doc Holliday, Cathy Downs as Clementine Carter, Walter Brennan as Old Man Clanton, Tim Holt as Virgil Earp, Ward Bond as Morgan Earp, John Ireland as Billy Clanton and Grant Withers as Ike Clanton. Music by Cyril J. Mockridge. 97mins (103mins).

One of the great western movie classics.

Wyatt Earp: Mac, you ever been in love?
Mac: No, I've been a bartender all my life.

John Ford claimed to have known Wyatt Earp and that the gunfight at the OK Corral in his movie was how Earp described it to him. But the film deviates from the facts quite a bit, for instance Doc Holliday was a dentist not a surgeon and did not die at the OK Corral.

The town of Tombstone was moved to Ford's beloved Monument Valley, the setting of many of his westerns.

Vincent Price was considered for the role of Doc Holliday.

Old Man Clanton: When ya pull a gun, kill a man.

Walter Brennan, in a departure from his usual mumbling lovable old coot persona, is the personification of pure evil as Old Man Clanton.

IMDB rating 7.8

Will Geer as Wyatt Earp in Winchester 73 (1950)
Will Geer as Wyatt Earp in Winchester 73 (1950)
Winchester 73 (1950) poster
Winchester 73 (1950) poster



Winchester 73 (1950) Directed by Anthony Mann and starring James Stewart, Shelley Winters, Dan Duryea, Stephen McNally, Millard Mitchell, Charles Drake, John McIntire, Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis and Will Geer as Wyatt Earp. Music by Joseph Gershenson. 92mins

The Winchester Rifle, 1873 Model "The Gun that Won the West" as it passes from one ill-fated owner to the other.

The first of five classic James Stewart westerns directed by Anthony Mann.

IMDB rating 7.8

Wichita (1955) poster
Wichita (1955) poster



Wichita (1955) Directed by Jacques Tourneur and starring Joel McCrea as Wyatt Earp, Vera Miles, Lloyd Bridges, Wallace Ford, Edgar Buchanan, Peter Graves as Morgan Earp, Keith Larsen as Bat Masterson, Mae Clarke and Jack Elam. Music by Hans J. Salter. 81mins.

In this movie Wyatt Earp is the Marshal of Wichita, Kansas.

Sam Peckinpah has a small role as a bank teller.

IMDB rating 6.9

The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1955)
The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1955)




The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1955-1961) TV series starring Hugh O'Brian as Wyatt Earp, Douglas Fowley as Doc Holliday, Trevor Bardette as Old Man Clanton, William Phipps as Curly Bill and John Milford as Ike Clanton.

224 x 30mins episodes - Six Seasons

IMDB rating 8.4

Douglas, Lancaster, John Hudson, and DeForest Kelley in Gunfight at the OK Corral
Douglas, Lancaster, John Hudson, and DeForest Kelley in Gunfight at the OK Corral
Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957) poster
Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957) poster
Burt Douglas and Kirk Lancaster in Gunfight at the OK Corral
Burt Douglas and Kirk Lancaster in Gunfight at the OK Corral

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) Directed by John Sturges and starring Burt Lancaster as Wyatt Earp, Kirk Douglas as Doc Holliday, Rhonda Fleming, Jo Van Fleet, John Ireland as Johnny Ringo, Lyle Bettger as Ike Clanton, Dennis Hopper as Billy Clanton, Earl Holliman, John Hudson as Virgil Earp, DeForest Kelley as Morgan Earp, Martin Milner as James Earp, Kenneth Tobey as Bat Masterson, Lee Van Cleef and Jack Elam. Music by Dimitri Tiomkin. 122mins.

Wyatt Earp: Hold up your right hand. Do you solemnly swear to uphold... oh, this is ridiculous. You're deputized. Grab some gear, I'll get the horses.
Doc Holliday: Wait a minute, don't I get to wear a tin star?
Wyatt Earp: Not on your life!

One of the most popular westerns of the 1950s and the second of seven films Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas made together.

While the actual gunfight lasted about 30 seconds, in this film the gunfight lasts about 5 minutes. Johnny Ringo wasn't present at the real OK Corral shootout.

Doc Holliday: If I'm going to die at least let me die with the only friend I've ever had.

Oscar nominated for Best Editing and Best Sound.

IMDB rating 7.2

Badman's Country (1958) poster
Badman's Country (1958) poster


Badman's Country (1958) Directed by Fred F. Sears and starring George Montgomery as Pat Garrett, Neville Brand as Butch Cassidy, Buster Crabbe as Wyatt Earp, Gregory Walcott as Bat Masterson, Malcolm Atterbury as Buffalo Bill Cody, Russell Johnson as Sundance, Karin Booth and Morris Ankrum. Music by Irving Gertz. 68mins.

An odd little movie, a sort of Western-Avengers Assemble in which Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Pat Garrett and Buffalo Bill team up to put a stop to Butch Cassidy and his Hole-in-the-Wall gang.

IMDB rating 6.2

James Stewart as Wyatt Earp in Cheyenne Autumn
James Stewart as Wyatt Earp in Cheyenne Autumn
Cheyenne Autumn (1964) poster
Cheyenne Autumn (1964) poster

Cheyenne Autumn (1964) Directed by John Ford and starring Richard Widmark, Carroll Baker, Karl Malden, Sal Mineo, Dolores del Rio, Ricardo Montalban, Gilbert Roland, Edward G. Robinson, Arthur Kennedy as Doc Holliday and James Stewart as Wyatt Earp. Music by Alex North. 154mins.

The true story of hundreds of Cheyenne Indians on an exodus from a reservation in Oklahoma to their home in Wyoming.

Ford didn't want an intermission in his long movie instead he filmed a segment featuring James Stewart as Wyatt Earp which was meant to be the intermission. But how many people knew that?

IMDB rating 6.9

Hour of the Gun (1967) poster
Hour of the Gun (1967) poster
James Garner and Jason Robards in Hour of the Gun
James Garner and Jason Robards in Hour of the Gun

Hour of the Gun (1967) Directed by John Sturges and starring James Garner as Wyatt Earp, Jason Robards as Doc Holliday, Robert Ryan as Ike Clanton, William Windom, William Schallert, Monte Markham, Sam Melville as Morgan Earp, Frank Converse as Virgil Earp and Jon Voight as Curly Bill Brocius. Music by Jerry Goldsmith. 100mins.

An interesting film, almost a follow up to Sturges Gunfight at the OK Corral, except that Ike Clanton more accurately survives the gunfight in this film. When Morgan Earp is killed Wyatt sets out to wipe out Ike and his gang.

James Garner would play Wyatt Earp again in the movie Sunset (1988) alongside Bruce Willis.

IMDB rating 6.6

Star Trek - Spectre of the Gun (1968)
Star Trek - Spectre of the Gun (1968)
Star Trek - Spectre of the Gun (1968)
Star Trek - Spectre of the Gun (1968)
Star Trek - Spectre of the Gun (1968)
Star Trek - Spectre of the Gun (1968)

Star Trek: "Spectre of the Gun" (1968) Third season episode directed by Vincent McEveety and starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Ron Soble as Wyatt Earp, Charles Maxwell as Virgil Earp, Rex Holman as Morgan Earp, Sam Gilman as Doc Holliday and Abraham Sofaer as Melkotian (voice). Music by Jerry Fielding. 51mins.

After trespassing into Melkotian space, Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty and Chekov are forced into re-enacting the gunfight at the OK Corral on the planet Theta Kiokis II in an unfinished replica of the town of Tombstone, taken from Kirk's mind.

The problem is that Kirk and co are on the wrong side, facing the Earps. Kirk Is Ike Clanton, Spock is Frank McLaury, McCoy is Tom McLaury, Scotty is Billy Clanton and Chekov is Billy Claiborne.

DeForest Kelley had played Morgan Earp in Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957).

IMDB rating 7.4

Harris Yulin and Stacy Keach in "Doc"
Harris Yulin and Stacy Keach in "Doc"
"Doc" (1971) poster
"Doc" (1971) poster


"Doc" (1971) Directed by Frank Perry and starring Stacy Keach as Doc Holliday, Faye Dunaway, Harris Yulin as Wyatt Earp, Michael Witney as Ike Clanton, John Bottoms as Virgil Earp, Philip Shafer as Morgan Earp, Bruce Fischer as Billy Clanton and Fred Dennis as Johnny Ringo. Music by Jimmy Webb. 96mins.

A revisionist western showing Wyatt Earp and the Clantons as seen from Doc Hollidays point of view. A far from accurate telling of the tale with Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne dying at the OK Corral.

IMDB rating 6.0

James Garner and Bruce Willis in Sunset
James Garner and Bruce Willis in Sunset
Sunset (1988) poster
Sunset (1988) poster

Sunset (1988) Directed by Blake Edwards and starring Bruce Willis as Tom Mix, James Garner as Wyatt Earp, Malcolm McDowell, Mariel Hemingway, Kathleen Quinlan, M. Emmett Walsh and Joe Dallesandro. Music by Henry Mancini. 102mins.

A fictional tale of Wyatt Earp and Hollywood cowboy Tom Mix teaming up to solve a murder in 1929.

Tom Mix and Wyatt Earp were real life friends.

Wyatt died in 1929 aged 81, Garner was 60 when he made the film and had played Wyatt Earp before in the 1966 film Hour of the Gun.

IMDB rating 5.6

Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Kurt Russell and Bill Paxton in Tombstone
Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Kurt Russell and Bill Paxton in Tombstone
Tombstone (1993)
Tombstone (1993)
Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp in Tombstone
Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp in Tombstone
Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in Tombstone
Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in Tombstone
Michael Biehn as Johnny Ringo in Tombstone
Michael Biehn as Johnny Ringo in Tombstone
Tombstone (1993) lobby card
Tombstone (1993) lobby card
"... you hear? Hell's coming with me!" Kurt Russell in Tombstone
"... you hear? Hell's coming with me!" Kurt Russell in Tombstone

Tombstone (1993) Directed by George P. Cosmatos and starring Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp, Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday, Sam Elliott as Virgil Earp, Bill Paxton as Morgan Earp, Powers Boothe as Curly Bill Brocius, Michael Biehn as Johnny Ringo, Stephen Lang as Ike Clanton, Thomas Haden Church as Billy Clanton, Jason Priestley, Dana Delany, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Joanna Pacula, Jon Tenney, Michael Rooker, Billy Bob Thornton, Billy Zane, Terry O' Quinn and Charlton Heston as Henry Hooker. Music by Bruce Broughton. 130mins (134mins).

Narrated by Robert Mitchum.

One of the most popular westerns of modern times and one of the most quotable.

Wyatt and his brothers move to Tombstone along with his friend Doc Holliday, they soon confront the Clantons, Curly Bill and Johnny Ringo.

Wyatt Earp: You skin that smoke wagon and we'll see what happens!
Johnny Tyler: Listen mister, I'm getting awful tired of your...
[Wyatt slaps him]
Wyatt Earp: Are you gonna do something? Or just stand there and bleed?

The shooting of the film was problematic with people getting fired left and right, the original director Kevin Jarre was given the boot after filming some scenes with Charlton Heston and George Cosmatos was brought in to direct.

The film was originally meant to be a 3 hour epic and the script was cut down to 2 hours.

John Carpenter, a friend of Kurt Russells, was considered as director at one point.

Doc Holliday: I'm your huckleberry...

First choice for Doc Holliday was Willem Dafoe but the studio didn't want him fearing a backlash after he played Jesus in the controversial Last Temptation of Christ (1988), Val Kilmer was second choice and was excellent in the part, the best role in his career.

Wyatt Earp: How are you?
Doc Holliday: I'm dying, how are you?

The gunfight at the OK Corral was pretty accurate and some of the dialogue was actually spoken by the real life characters, when Doc says "You're a daisy if you do." at one of the Cowboys, he was heard to say that at the time.

Wyatt Earp: All right, Clanton... you called down the thunder, well now you've got it! You see that? It says United States Marshal! The Cowboys are finished, you understand? I see a red sash, I kill the man wearin' it! So run, you cur... RUN! Tell all the other curs the law's comin'! [shouts] You tell 'em I'M coming... and hell's coming with me, you hear?... HELL'S COMING WITH ME!

Tombstone cost $25m and has grossed $56.5m at the US box office.

IMDB rating 7.7

Kevin Costner as Wyatt Earp
Kevin Costner as Wyatt Earp
Wyatt Earp (1994)
Wyatt Earp (1994)
Kevin Costner as Wyatt Earp (1994) lobby card
Kevin Costner as Wyatt Earp (1994) lobby card
Dennis Quaid as Doc Holliday in Wyatt Earp
Dennis Quaid as Doc Holliday in Wyatt Earp
Wyatt Earp (1994)
Wyatt Earp (1994)

Wyatt Earp (1994) Directed by Lawrence Kasdan and starring Kevin Costner as Wyatt Earp, Dennis Quad as Doc Holliday, Gene Hackman as Nicholas Earp, Michael Madsen as Virgil Earp, Linden Ashby as Morgan Earp, Jeff Fahey as Ike Clanton, Mark Harmon, Catherine O' Hara, Isabella Rossellini, JoBeth Williams, Bill Pullman, Tom Sizemore as Bat Masterson, Tea Leoni and Jim Caviezel. Music by James Newton Howard. 191mins (212mins).

Kevin Costner was originally involved with the film Tombstone but couldn't agree with Kevin Jarre over the screenplay. Costner wanted the focus to be on Wyatt Earp's life story, so he decided to produce his own epic film and hired Lawrence Kasdan to direct.

Wyatt Earp: You'd be doing me a favor if you called me Wyatt or Earp, but not both.

Dennis Quaid lost over 30 pounds to play Doc Holliday, probably the best character in the film.

Doc Holliday: What do you want to do?
Wyatt Earp: Kill them all.

Oscar nominated for Best Cinematography.

Received five Golden Raspberry nominations including Worst Picture, winning for Worst Actor (Costner).

Wyatt Earp cost $63m and grossed just $25m at the US box office.

IMDB rating 6.5

Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957) poster
Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957) poster

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    • lindalou1963 profile image

      Linda 5 years ago from Texas

      I am a huge fan of old westerns and I love all the versions of "Tombstone," although the one starring Kevin Costner is one of my favorites. Thanks for posting this, voted up and interesting!

    • Steve Lensman profile image
      Author

      Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England

      Thanks for commenting lindalou1963. I own both Tombstone and Wyatt Earp on DVD they make an interesting and contrasting pair of films.

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

      Excellent hub....some of my thoughts while reading this hub.....(1) the very first picture looks very much how Kurt Russell looked in Tombstone. (2) Loved seeing Star Trek get a mention....as we get to Bones McCoy twice in this hub. (3) Hour of the Gun is a movie that I want to watch....trying to track it down currently. (4) I agree with you that Tombstone has some great quotes. (5) I remember watching Tombstone the first time....I was a Michael Biehn fan and had hoped he would be one of the good guys....during the first scene Biehn does not partake in the violence...so I thought he could still be a good guy....but then he shoots the minister in the head...and I gave up all hope about him being a good guy in the movie. (6) I did not like Wyatt Earp but I was impressed with Dennis Quaid.

      The best in the roles.

      1. Wyatt Earp....Henry Fonda in My Darling Clementine....Kurt Russell the runner up in Tombstone.

      2. Doc Holliday....Val Kilmer in Tombstone....runner up Dennis Quaid Wyatt Earp

      3. Ike Clanton ....Walter Brennan in My Darling Clementing

      4. Johnny Ringo...Michael Biehn in Tombstone.

      I thought Sunset was one of the worst Bruce Willis movies ever....how they took those stars and that story and made such a bad movie I will never understand.

      Thanks for another awesome hub from the Steve Lenman publishing company.....voted up and awesome.

    • Steve Lensman profile image
      Author

      Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England

      Thanks Bruce, appreciate the comment, observations, vote, preferences and kind words!

      You gave me the suggestion for a Wyatt Earp hub a few weeks ago, I finally got round to creating it. Cheers amigo. :)

      I couldn't resist adding Star Trek to the mix, I've seen that episode more times than most of the films on here.

      Michael Biehn was great as Johnny Ringo and a good match for Val Kilmer's Doc.

      Some western buffs look down on Tombstone but it's dead on accurate in many of the actual incidents. You never see Wyatt kill Ike Clanton in the film which is true. He was killed by another lawman in another state.

      Thanks as always for posting.

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

      I remember hearing a few years ago....that Kurt Russell says he ended up directing the movie....and he wanted until George Cosamntos to pass away before letting people know.....somehow Kurt Russell has ended up with the rights to Tombstone....seems like a good business decision for him and his family.

      I love the ending credits of Tombstone...right up there with the walk in The Right Stuff....or for the younger readers....Armagedon....lol. Another think I remember about the Tombstone/Wyatt Earp movies...is the producers of Wyatt Earp bought up all the western props(horses, guns, outfits) just so the Tombstone crew would have to struggle to stock their cowboys.....I think Tombstone got the last laugh as it was way more financial successful than Wyatt Earp.

    • Steve Lensman profile image
      Author

      Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England

      Yes George Cosmatos was brought in after screenwriter Kevin Jarre was fired from directing it. But it was Kurt Russell who was really calling the shots, similar to what happened with Spielberg and Tobe Hooper on Poltergeist and Howard Hawks and Christian Nyby on The Thing.

      But saying that, Cosmatos is a decent director, The Cassandra Crossing was pretty good and he did a good job with Rambo II though rumours are that Stallone ghost-directed that one and the third one too. ;)

      Costner must have been fuming when Tombstone got all the glory and his film was nominated for some Razzies. But the film Wyatt Earp is a good stab at a biopic on Wyatt and it is packed with great and not so great actors. The photography deserved the Oscar nom.

      The director Lawrence Kasdan had directed the far more enjoyable Silverado back in 1985, young Costner was one of the stars.

    • profile image

      Joe Stewart 4 years ago

      The photo used for John Henry Holiday (Doc) is not Doc, it is John Escapule. Please refer to https://www.facebook.com/KnowYourDocHolliday

    • Steve Lensman profile image
      Author

      Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England

      Will the real Doc Holliday please stand up! I couldn't open your link but I'll take your word for it. I've replaced the image with another. Hopefully this guy looks more like the doc. Thanks for posting!

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