Gutsy Toughs: “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral”

Once again in a Western, bloody conflict revolves around cattle theft, albeit the 1957 Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, serving up the stuff of (mere) legend, also forces Wyatt Earp (Burt Lancaster) to contend with cold Doc Holliday (Kirk Douglas) before seeking the killer’s help.

It’s a world of stouthearted men disinclined to talk too much, gutsy toughs who walk away without responding to somebody’s utterance.  Directed by John Sturges, the film is not quite tidy enough:  it lets unattached Earp lose Rhonda Fleming—I mean Laura, whom Fleming plays—almost as an afterthought.  In addition, one ought to object that insufficient sympathy is shown for Kate Fisher (Jo Van Fleet), the harsh Holliday’s mistreated lady-friend.  All the same, there is an attractive look, decent dialogue and enjoyable action.  And the early tension between Earp and Holliday is so interesting it alone makes the movie watchable.

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