October & The Anniversary of the Gunfight at the OK Corral
It had already been an interesting year by that October. In addition to the sociopolitical strife in Tombstone, President Garfield had been inaugurated in February, shot by a lawyer with a concealed handgun in July, and died of his wounds in September. In April, Billy the Kid had escaped custody in New Mexico, killed two Jailers and stolen a horse. By July, Pat Garret had caught up to him outside Fort Sumner and killed him for that and other crimes. And in August a Hurricane hit Florida and the Carolinas, killing around 700.
Then October arrived … and the proverbial shit really hit the proverbial fan.
When I adapted my original screenplay of Western Legend into a historical fiction novel, I made the centerpiece of the script the same as the novel: The Gunfight at the OK Corral. And the amount of research I had to do to get it right was beyond anything I expected. Fried my brain as a matter of fact. But the experience did grant me one unique gift. An appreciation for this piece of American history.
So, since the month of October signals the 130th Anniversary of that now world-famous Thursday afternoon street fight, I am commemorating this very violent incident in a brief series of posts. The first being a few YouTube links, evidencing just a sample of the many movie and TV versions of the gunfight. (Excluding documentary recreations — which I will be focusing on later.)
Please remember, although this incident has become a permanent part of pop-culture, and is endlessly referenced–often humorously–this nonetheless, actually happened. It is not fantasy. And it was one helluva bad day for everyone involved. You can read all about it in Western Legend.
The first is a link to edited scenes from the 1956 film, The Gunfight at the OK Corral. You will find the gunfight itself toward the end of this 5 min. video.
The link below shows the gunfight from the perspective of the British in the 1960’s, and was part of a Dr. Who Television show.
This is something I referred to in the opening pages of the chapter in my book on the gunfight. It is a rather bizarre interpretation, again Science Fiction.
A more interesting version, was this one from director John Sturges, who earlier had made Gunfight at the OK Corral. This was said to be Sturges’ attempt at showing a more accurate version of the actual gunfight, as opposed to that shown in his earlier film. At the time, this was the most accurate recreation ever put on film. Still with glaring errors, but it’s the thought that counts. Hour of the Gun is unique in that it opens with the gunfight and then proceeds from there.
Now we arrive at the first of the two most accurate versions. And while not quite as accurate as Wyatt Earp, Tombstone has nonetheless become much more popular over time.
And finally, although still massively flawed, the most authentic “movie” version of the gunfight to date filmed. Note that among other inaccuracies, the cowboys were actually lined up with their backs to the little house to the right, and the Earp party came into the lot haphazardly. (Read more about this in Western Legend.) This is only one issue I have with this version. Which could have easily been so much more accurate. But oh well.