A lot can happen in 30 seconds. In the case of the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral, 30 seconds found three men dead, left two men wounded and ultimately captured the imagination of generations of Americans. Wyatt Earp, an against-all-odds hero who was literally the last man standing; Doc Holliday, Earp's unlikely crony; the tragic tale of the Earp family - all of these elements make the story of the O.K. Corral irresistible to a great many people. Hollywood filmmakers were quick to recognize the legend's attraction - and its potential. As early as 1939 (with the production of "Frontier Marshal"), movie makers were recreating the gunfight at the O.K. Corral and its attendant happenings in Tombstone, Arizona, on October 26, 1881. The following decades produced various renderings of the story, some more historically accurate than others but all with the American flare for entertainment. This volume examines eight movie renderings of the legendary gunfight. Produced from 1939 to 1994, these movies each use Wyatt Earp and other real-life characters as their sources.
The work focuses on the filmmakers' treatment of the history and the skill with which each balances fact with the necessity of entertainment. The ways in which Wyatt Earp is presented in each film and this portrayal's relationship to the period in which the film was made is also examined in detail. Films discussed are "Frontier Marshal" (1939), "Tombstone, the Town too Tough to Die" (1942), "My Darling Clementine" (1946), "Gunfight at O.K. Corral" (1957), "Hour of the Gun" (1967), "Doc" (1971), "Tombstone" (1993), and "Wyatt Earp" (1994). Period photographs are also included.
Michael F. Blake, an Emmy-winning makeup artist and leading film historian, has worked in the film industry for nearly fifty years. He has written for American Cinematographer, Performing Arts, Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. He lives in Arizona.