Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)

122 mins | Western | May 1957

Director:

John Sturges

Writer:

Leon Uris

Producer:

Hal B. Wallis

Cinematographer:

Charles Lang Jr.

Editor:

Warren Low

Production Designers:

Hal Pereira, Walter Tyler
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HISTORY

In Aug 1954, HR reported that producer Hal Wallis had purchased the film rights to George Scullin's article "The Killer," which outlined the relationship between historical Western figures Wyatt Earp and John "Doc" Holliday. Although various articles list Stuart Lake's 1931 book Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshall as an additional source text for Gunfight at the O.K. Corral , the book is not credited in the SAB or any contemporary reviews. HR reported in Jan 1955 that Wallis was hoping to cast Burt Lancaster and Humphrey Bogart in the lead roles. In Feb 1955, LAT reported that Barbara Stanwyck was likely to assume one the female leads in the film.
       According to the file on the film in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, portions of the film were shot on location at the Empire Ranch in Tucson, AZ, as well as Phoenix, AZ. NYHT reported that the Texas sequences in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral were filmed in Tucson, while the Kansas sequences were filmed near Phoenix. The Arizona sequences were filmed at the Paramount Studios lot in Hollywood, CA, although LAMirror-News states that the gunfight itself was shot in Tucson. HR news items include Myna Lundeen in the cast, but her appearance in the released film had not been confirmed. Gunfight at the O.K. Corral received two Academy Award nominations: Best Editing (Warren Low) and Best Sound Recording (George Dutton and the Paramount sound department).
       According to modern sources, when Burt Lancaster read in Hedda Hopper's column that actor William Holden had backed out of the role of ... More Less

In Aug 1954, HR reported that producer Hal Wallis had purchased the film rights to George Scullin's article "The Killer," which outlined the relationship between historical Western figures Wyatt Earp and John "Doc" Holliday. Although various articles list Stuart Lake's 1931 book Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshall as an additional source text for Gunfight at the O.K. Corral , the book is not credited in the SAB or any contemporary reviews. HR reported in Jan 1955 that Wallis was hoping to cast Burt Lancaster and Humphrey Bogart in the lead roles. In Feb 1955, LAT reported that Barbara Stanwyck was likely to assume one the female leads in the film.
       According to the file on the film in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, portions of the film were shot on location at the Empire Ranch in Tucson, AZ, as well as Phoenix, AZ. NYHT reported that the Texas sequences in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral were filmed in Tucson, while the Kansas sequences were filmed near Phoenix. The Arizona sequences were filmed at the Paramount Studios lot in Hollywood, CA, although LAMirror-News states that the gunfight itself was shot in Tucson. HR news items include Myna Lundeen in the cast, but her appearance in the released film had not been confirmed. Gunfight at the O.K. Corral received two Academy Award nominations: Best Editing (Warren Low) and Best Sound Recording (George Dutton and the Paramount sound department).
       According to modern sources, when Burt Lancaster read in Hedda Hopper's column that actor William Holden had backed out of the role of "Bill Starbuck" in Hal Wallis' planned production of N. Richard Nash's play The Rainmaker (see below), he called the producer and agreed to appear in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral if he also received the title role in The Rainmaker . This film marked Lancaster's final commitment under his contract with Wallis; the two never worked together again. According to modern sources, the film grossed $4,700,000 in U.S. and Canadian rentals upon its initial domestic release. Modern sources add William Norton Bailey and Paul Bradley to the cast and credit Bill Williams as stuntman.
       There have been many screen versions of the 1881 gunfight at the O.K. Corral. For additional information on the gunfight, and the Earp and Clanton families, see the entry for My Darling Clementine in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 . John Ireland, who played Johnny Ringo in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral , played Bill Clanton in My Darling Clementine . For additional information about Holliday, please see the entry above for the 1941 Universal film Badlands of Dakota . Director John Sturges filmed a sequel to Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in 1967. Called Hour of the Gun , it starred James Garner and Jason Robards in the roles previously played by Lancaster and Kirk Douglas and was released by United Artists (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Jul 57
pp. 436-37, 456.
Box Office
18 May 1957.
---
Daily Variety
10 May 57
p. 3.
Film Daily
10 May 57
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Aug 1954.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jan 55
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Mar 56
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Mar 56
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 57
p. 3.
LAMirror-News
30 May 1957.
---
Los Angeles Times
7 Feb 1955.
---
Los Angeles Times
30 May 1957.
---
Motion Picture Daily
10 May 1957.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
25 May 57
p. 385.
New York Herald Tribune
13 May 1956.
---
New York Times
30 May 57
p. 23.
Newsweek
3 Jun 1957.
---
Time
17 Jun 1957.
---
Variety
15 May 57
p. 7.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dial dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
Scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d cam
Asst cam
Asst cam
Cam loader
Cam mechanic
Gaffer
Grip
Grip
Head elec
Elec
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Ed supv
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Prop shop
Prop shop
Painter
COSTUMES
Cost
Ladies' ward
Men's ward
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup
Hairdresser
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to the prod
Prod mgr
Asst prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
Asst unit prod mgr
Casting
Casting
Casting
Casting
Scr clerk
Wallis' casting dir
Casting secy
Loc auditor
Stage eng/Sd boom
Labor
Labor
Generator op
STAND INS
Stand-in
Double
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Suggested by the article "The Killer" by George Scullin in Holiday Magazine (Aug 1954).
SONGS
"Gunfight at the O.K. Corral," music by Dimitri Tiomkin, lyrics by Ned Washington, sung by Frankie Laine, a Columbia Recoding Artist.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
May 1957
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 29 May 1957
Production Date:
12 March--17 May 1956
addl scenes 24 July 1956
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corp., Hal B. Wallis and Joseph H. Hazen
Copyright Date:
25 May 1957
Copyright Number:
LP8280
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
VistaVision Motion Picture High-Fidelity
Duration(in mins):
122
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18134
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Ed Bailey and his two henchmen ride into the small Texas town of Fort Griffin, hoping to avenge the death of Bailey's brother at the hands of noted gunslinger John H. "Doc" Holliday. Holliday's traveling companion, Kate Fisher, rushes to warn the former dentist at his hotel room, but the two instead come to blows when Kate inadvertently mentions Holliday's once-prominent family. Meanwhile, lawman Wyatt Earp arrives in Fort Griffin, and learns that Cotton Wilson, the town's cowardly marshal, released outlaws Ike Clanton and Johnny Ringo from custody three days earlier, despite the outstanding warrants for their arrest. Seeking information on Clanton and Ringo's whereabouts, Wyatt questions Holliday, who refuses to tell the lawman where the outlaws went, as he carries a grudge against the Wyatt family because Wyatt's brother Morgan once threw Holliday out of Deadwood and impounded $10,000 of his gambling winnings. Soon thereafter, Holliday confronts Bailey and challenges him to a gunfight at Boot Hill, but when Bailey attempts to shoot him in the back instead, Holliday throws his knife and kills the cowboy. Arrested for murder, Holliday is saved from a lynch mob by Wyatt, who, along with Kate, helps the gunfighter escape the angry townspeople. Later, back in Dodge City, Kansas, Wyatt is told by his deputy, Charles Bassett, that Holliday and Kate have arrived in town. Wyatt orders the gunfighter to leave, but when Holliday informs him that he is penniless, the lawman allows him to stay if he promises not to cause any trouble. Wyatt's attention is then drawn to another new arrival in Dodge City, the beautiful Laura Denbow. After being told by Wyatt that female ... +


Ed Bailey and his two henchmen ride into the small Texas town of Fort Griffin, hoping to avenge the death of Bailey's brother at the hands of noted gunslinger John H. "Doc" Holliday. Holliday's traveling companion, Kate Fisher, rushes to warn the former dentist at his hotel room, but the two instead come to blows when Kate inadvertently mentions Holliday's once-prominent family. Meanwhile, lawman Wyatt Earp arrives in Fort Griffin, and learns that Cotton Wilson, the town's cowardly marshal, released outlaws Ike Clanton and Johnny Ringo from custody three days earlier, despite the outstanding warrants for their arrest. Seeking information on Clanton and Ringo's whereabouts, Wyatt questions Holliday, who refuses to tell the lawman where the outlaws went, as he carries a grudge against the Wyatt family because Wyatt's brother Morgan once threw Holliday out of Deadwood and impounded $10,000 of his gambling winnings. Soon thereafter, Holliday confronts Bailey and challenges him to a gunfight at Boot Hill, but when Bailey attempts to shoot him in the back instead, Holliday throws his knife and kills the cowboy. Arrested for murder, Holliday is saved from a lynch mob by Wyatt, who, along with Kate, helps the gunfighter escape the angry townspeople. Later, back in Dodge City, Kansas, Wyatt is told by his deputy, Charles Bassett, that Holliday and Kate have arrived in town. Wyatt orders the gunfighter to leave, but when Holliday informs him that he is penniless, the lawman allows him to stay if he promises not to cause any trouble. Wyatt's attention is then drawn to another new arrival in Dodge City, the beautiful Laura Denbow. After being told by Wyatt that female gamblers are not allowed within the city limits, Laura is arrested for "disturbing the peace" after a drunken cowboy attempts to come to her defense. Under pressure from Holliday and Bassett, Wyatt has a change of heart and releases Laura, on the condition that she confine her gambling to the saloons' side rooms. Later, Wyatt is forced to deputize Holliday when a local bank is robbed and its cashier killed, as all his deputies are out on a posse with Bat Masterson. As they set up camp for the night, Holliday tells Wyatt that he agreed to come along only to repay his debt to the lawman for saving his life back in Fort Griffith. His opportunity soon arises when the three bank robbers attempt to ambush Wyatt, but are instead killed by the two men. Returning to Dodge City, Holliday learns from Bassett that Kate has left him for Ringo. Despite his anger and injured pride, Holliday keeps his promise to Wyatt and refuses to get into a gunfight with Ringo. Unlike his new friend, Wyatt's love life is on an upswing, as he and Laura soon fall in love. With Wyatt out of town with his new lady love, cattleman Shanghai Pierce rides into Dodge City with his cowboys and begins shooting up the town. When Bassett tries to arrest Pierce, Ringo shoots him. Wyatt then returns to town just as Pierce and his men are breaking up a church bazaar. Outgunned, Wyatt is saved when a well-armed Holliday appears from a back room, and Pierce and his men are quickly arrested. Afterward, Wyatt tells Holliday that he is giving up the law and moving to California with Laura, despite being offered the post of U.S. Marshal. Wyatt then receives a telegram from his brother Virgil, asking for his help in cleaning up the town of Tombstone. Though Laura refuses to go, Wyatt immediately leaves for Arizona, with Holliday following close behind. At Virgil's home, Wyatt is joined by two other brothers: Morgan and James. Virgil tells them that Ike Clanton has rustled thousands of heads of Mexican cattle, but cannot ship them to market as long as the Earps control Tombstone's railway station. All agree that Wyatt should be in charge of the situation, though Morgan criticizes his older brother's association with Holliday. Wyatt, in turn, defends Holliday and insists that the gambler remains welcome in Tombstone as long as he stays out of trouble. Cotton, the new county sheriff, offers Wyatt a $20,000 bribe from Ike if he allows the Clantons to ship their stolen cattle. Refused, Ike and his men then ride into Tombstone, only to be turned away by the Earp brothers. Later, Ringo returns to town with Kate, and Holliday quickly challenges him to a duel, but is stopped by Virgil. Meanwhile, Wyatt heads out to the Clanton ranch to inform Ike that he has been made U.S. Marshal for the territory and orders the crooked cattleman to take his stolen herd back to Mexico. Unable to find any legal loopholes around Wyatt, the Clantons decide to ambush the lawman while he makes his rounds that night, but they mistakenly kill James instead. While questioning Kate about James's murder, Holliday collapses from an attack of tuberculosis. That night, Billy, the youngest Clanton, is sent into town to challenge the Earps to a family duel. Outgunned six to three, Wyatt asks Holliday for help, only to be told by Kate that the bedridden gunfighter is dying. The next morning, Ike, Finn and Billy Clanton, along with Tom and Frank McLowery and Ringo, head into Tombstone to face the Earps. Despite his illness, Holliday joins the Earps as they head for the O.K. corral. The gun battle begins, and Morgan is quickly wounded. In turn, Holliday shoots and kills Finn. His death is quickly followed by that of the two McLowerys. After Virgil is wounded, Wyatt kills Ike with a shotgun blast. Though wounded by Billy, Holliday follows Ringo into a barn and kills him, while Wyatt chases after the youngest Clanton. Billy is then offered a chance to surrender, but he refuses and is killed by Holliday when Wyatt hesitates to shoot the young man. Afterward, while his brothers tend to their wounds, Wyatt joins Holliday for a final drink before heading off to California, and hopefully, a waiting Laura. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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