Hard-Nosed: The Western Movie, “Doc”

Frank Perry, who made some interesting films, directed decades ago the somewhat trite naturalistic Western, Doc (1971). Stacy Keach is soberingly good as Doc Holliday. Faye Dunaway is now icy, now likable as the good-looking prostitute whom Holliday loves. Both Doc and his friend Wyatt Earp (Harris Yulin) interact, coldly and violently, with a family of male troublemakers, who possesses what may be called a physical authority as great as that of the lawmen/good guys. Earp, even so, is not genuinely good.

This leads me to indicate that Doc, written by Pete Hamill, is about the tension between the weakening of morality (Earp represents this) and the rebuilding, or renewal, of something good and necessary, such as a town.

Virtues in Perry’s film are that it is hard-nosed and suitably, winningly set-designed. Supporting roles are striking (Ike Clanton, Virgil Earp) and usually nicely acted. In addition, though it has a thin ending, the film is never boring.

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