(out of 5)
The disappointment of Lawrence Kasdan’s bloated, self-important Wyatt Earp is well made up for in this exciting Western. Rather than trying to inject any kind of historical revisionism into the classic Hollywood form (something that Andrew Dominik would do so much better than Kasdan with The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford twelve years later), George Pan Cosmatos brings back the action, the dramatic conflicts and the mythmaking of classic oaters. Maybe it doesn’t have the academically analyzed stylism of the likes of Ford or Hawks, but it certainly has the spirit. Kurt Russell gives one of his best performances as Earp, the legendary lawman who has come to Arizona to find a peaceful life with his two brothers (Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton). There he is reunited with the equally well known Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer, the film’s best performance and one of his most memorable). The twosome find themselves partnering up once again when a bunch of misfits who call themselves, quite unimaginatively, “The Cowboys” make mischief that leaves people dead in the streets. A subplot involving Russell’s muted romance with a famous actress, played quite terribly by Dana Delany, provides a sore point, but otherwise it’s a thorough good time to have. Look for early performances by Billy Bob Thornton, Thomas Haden Church and a cameo by Charlton Heston.
Directed by George P. Cosmatos
Screenplay by Kevin Jarre
Cinematography by William A. Fraker
Music by Bruce Broughton
Production Design by Catherine Hardwicke
Costume Design by Joseph A. Porro