I’ve gone over each of the movies separately. Now I’ll consider them together and finish off any other ways of blathering on about them. After all I am in the blather business.
Which movie do I like better? It’s very hard for me to give a straight answer to this. Some of my favorite scenes in either movie is Doc Holliday mugging on screen with Johnny Ringo and Ike Clanton in Tombstone. But Kurt Russell makes me want to turn the very same movie off every time he tries to do drama. Alternatively, Wyatt Earp has lots of very nice cinematography and music scoring and great story development and supporting actors like Dennis Quaid and Gene Hackman. It also has a three hour running time and perhaps too much fidelity to the mundane facts behind the Earp legend.
I’ll fudge the answer. I’ve imagined a scenario where these two movies could have been the basis for a much better outcome. Here are the points I’ll pound:
- Go with Kevin Costner as Wyatt Earp. If Kurt Russell needs a consolation prize, let him be the younger brother Morgan. He’s got a good dying scene where histrionics wouldn’t be too distracting.
- Hire the director from Wyatt Earp but don’t let Costner get his way.
- Keep the running time to 2 hours 15 minutes. This isn’t Ben Hur. A western longer than that is asking for trouble.
- Include some of the background info. Especially play up the meeting and earlier collaboration of Wyatt and Doc.
- Give Val Kilmer more screen time. Why not a card game with Doc, Wyatt, Johnny Ringo and Ike Clanton. That could really give them a reason to hate each other.
- End the story with the end of the vendetta. Afterward come up with a big set piece where Doc goes one way and Wyatt goes another.
- Put a limit on the amount of screen time for the Earp women. Mattie and Josie are both extremely annoying and really put a damper on the fun.
- Give us a little more of the internal dynamics amongst the Cowboys. Ike, Curly Bill and Johnny Ringo seem like vitriolic characters and it would be reasonable that they would have some entertaining fights going on.
- For mercy’s sake make sure somebody punches John Behan in the mouth and steps on his stupid derby hat.
- Give Adam Baldwin a good part in the movie (with lines).
- Bring back Bill Pullman as Ed Masterson. I want Earp to call him an affable man again like it’s a cuss-word. Also I want to see him catch on fire when he’s shot again. Great fun.
So that’s it. In a perfect world we’d go back in our time machine and re-direct history to remake Wyatt Earp-Tombstone as a masterpiece. Whoever the patron saint of lost causes is may my prayer float up to him and give him a good laugh. So that’s it. I’ll still watch Tombstone at least once a year and Wyatt Earp about once every five years. Coulda, woulda, shoulda. But still fun to talk about.