Channel 5: Thursday 15 October, 10.00pm
Less focused than Kevin Costner’s weighty Wyatt Earp epic, but much more exciting, Tombstone combines the stories from the two classic John Sturges westerns, Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957) and Hour of the Gun (1967). Kurt Russell cuts a convincing figure as the reluctant lawman in a livid adventure that pretty much lives up to its poster tagline: “Every town has a story – Tombstone has a legend.”
The feeling persists, though, that seven pounds of plot have been poured into a five pound sack. Because, even at two hours, events in the Earp repertoire are rushed and too many subsidiary characters are given too little time to make an impression (particularly the Earp wives). Quitea waste when you consider players of the calibre of Charlton Heston,Robert Burke, Billy Zane and Michael Rooker also come and go with unseemly haste.
Nothing quite matches the sheer thrill of the film’s opening sequence (narrated by Robert Mitchum), but there’s incident enough to compensate for the generally anonymous direction (Russell apparently stood in for ailing director George Cosmatos, much as John Wayne had done for Michael Curtiz on The Comancheros). Val Kilmer’s dandy turn as consumptive Doc Holliday is the cherry on top of a tasty cheesecake.