Guns don't stay in their holsters long when vigilantes Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday meet outlaws in the Wild West. James Garner (Maverick) and OscarĀ(r) winner* Jason Robards (All the President's Men) saddle up as the legen... more »dary gunslingers in this riveting, fact-based story that is "the closest filmmakers have ever come to the truth of the OK Corral gunfight" (LA Herald-Examiner). With the dust barely settling at the OK Corral, the notorious Clanton brothers unleash their revenge. One by one, they gun down Wyatt Earp's brothersbut they won't have the last shot. Using his US Marshal's badge as his authority, and Doc Holliday (Robards) as his deputizedright-hand man, Earp begins a zealous pursuit of vengeance that the west will never forget.« less
"Hour of the Gun is director John Sturges' own revisionist follow-on to his earlier Gunfight At the OK Corral made in 1957 with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. Whereas the older film was a traditional stereotypical western which ended with a long, heavily fictionalised re-creation of the famous gunfight this one starts with the gunfight and focuses on its aftermath. This time Sturges and his screenwriter have made a conscious effort for historical accuracy and the first hour or so of this film is probably about 80% true (Gunfight at the OK Corral was about 80% fiction right down to a climatic fight that included several people, particularly John Ireland's Johnny Ringo, who were never present). The film was also influenced by a book called The Earp Brothers of Tombstone by Frank Waters, which appeared in 1966 (one year previously) and was the first major work to try and debunk the Earp legend. More recent historians have discredited Waters for making his book as fictionised as Stuart Lake's Frontier Marshall the tome that set up the Wyatt Earp myth back in 1931. Hour of the Gun falls between the two camps - it depicts Earp as an embittered, vengeful man but also softens the extent of his revenge killings and creates a greater initial myth about the man's character in order to cut him down to size than he deserved at the time. For a Hollywood of its time the film is refreshing in its historical accuracy although it distorts the role of Ike Clanton (Robert Ryan) who is here the leader of the outlaws and creates an entirely fictional ending in which Earp and Doc Holliday track him down to a hideout in Mexico. The names of Clanton's henchmen whom Earp hunts down have also been altered and the character played by Steve Inhart who is killed by Earp in a scene taken from Stuart Lake's book was actually called Indian Charlie (but presumably Sturges didn't want to make Earp seem like a racist by shooting an Indian).The film works very well as a cynical, disenhartened look at a mythical hero (the audience's viewpoint is that of Doc Holliday, played with world weary resignation by Jason Robards, who sees his idol disintergrate but can't bear to leave him). James Garner as Earp is suitably unsympathetic and far removed from his easy Rockford Files personna. There is an excellent score by Jerry Goldsmith and you should go out and buy the CD. Sturges makes splendid use of the widescreen ratio and this film should get a w/s DVD release as soon as possible. It's world shadows that of the Vietnam era when we learned that our heroes weren't what they seemed and what we were fighting for was not what it once was. An essential 60's western"
What Happened After the OK Corral
Edward Lee | 01/28/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The HOUR OF THE GUN is a remarkable achievement for its time, following the exploits of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and company AFTER the gunfight at the OK Corral ... and it's fascinating.Jason Robards plays a wonderfully subdued Doc Holliday, almost to the point of trying to remain Wyatt's moral voice.In a surprising turn, James Garner turns in a dynamic performance as the stiff-laced Wyatt, who won't rest until justice for the death of his brother has been avenged.This film serves as a companion piece to THE GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL (wildly inaccurate in most of its depictions), and it succeeds admirably in attempting to set the record straight.But, there's still the Johnny Ringo bit ...While a VHS purchase may work well for some Wyatt and Doc purists, I'm holding out for a DVD widescreen version, hopefully with some extras for those of us who believe good things come to those who wait."
When the Legend Becomes Fact
Scott T. Rivers | Los Angeles, CA USA | 12/31/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There's no Hollywood romanticism in director John Sturges' hard-hitting account of the O.K. Corral aftermath. "Hour of the Gun" (1967) remains among the great unheralded Westerns, with superb performances by James Garner, Jason Robards and Robert Ryan. The role of Wyatt Earp is a perfect fit for Garner - it's too bad he didn't appear in more Westerns of this caliber. Far superior to Sturges' overrated "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" (1957)."
Fairly True Movie
Kay's Husband | Virginia, U.S.A. | 06/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
I saw this movie when it was released back in 1967 and it has always stayed with me. Whenever TNT would show it on their 4pm western theatre I would catch it, too, having several VHS recordings of it. So when the DVD became available I had to have a copy. My wife and I watched it last evening, she for the first time, and it got a good thumbs up all 'round.
It is far from a perfect picture though, but it is probably the best single production on this subject we will ever get. While I have on DVD 'My Darling Clementine', 'Tombstone', and 'Gunfight At OK Corral' I believe this movie to be better than all of those. 'My Darling Clementine' is a great movie, with black & white adding to the dramatic effect, but it certainly is not anywhere historically correct; while 'Tombstone', a favorite of mine, is in certain scenes filled with too much non-historical baseless humor; and finally 'Gunfight At OK Corral', while excellent, is terribly marred at the end by its being historically incorrect. Johnny Ringo was not killed by Doc at OK Corral, he very well may have been later, but not at OK Corral.
One thing missing in the 'Hour of the Gun' is women; all the other movies of the Earp vs. Clanton/cowboy element involve women on both sides, yet women are totally excluded from 'Hour of the Gun'. To me again that points up the serious historical viewpoint of this movie. As another reviewer here correctly points out: though Wyatt did not shoot it out with Ike, Ike was killed a few years later while still stealing cattle. And Ike was never at the brain level of Old Man Clanton, and Ike was never in as much control of events as Robert Ryan portrays.
And Jason Robards is much too old as Doc, since Doc died at the early age of 36 or so. Also in 'The Hour of the Gun' John Ringo is neither mentioned nor does he make an appearance. A strange omission.
Too, the killing of Frank Stillwell in Tucson did not happen as shown here, for he was not killed by Wyatt's handgun, he was pretty much cut in two by shotgun blasts. As a journal entry of the time states "Frank Stilwell was shot all over, the worst shot-up man that I ever saw. He was found a few hundred yards from the hotel on the railroad tracks." (source: True West, May, 2005, page 61)
None of the above paragraphs are meant to detract from this movie, because as screen outings go, this is the best of the Earp movies. And I don't expect a better one during my lifetime.
If you study this episode of the 1880s Tombstone area, this movie helps bring to life what you have read. As far as we know this movie will pretty much substantiate John Sturges' opening claim, "this is the way it happened."
And if you would like a look at Wyatt teamed-up with Tom Mix, try watching the movie SUNSET starring James Garner as Wyatt and Bruce Willis as Tom Mix. This Blake Edwards movie is different but interesting.
I highly recommend HOUR OF THE GUN to one and all western fans."
IMHO ....superior to Gunfight at the OK corral ..
Richardson | Sunny California USA | 11/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am happy to add my review to the others here....who , like me, prefer this to what the critics site as the superior "Gunfight at the OK Corral"... This is a wonderful story...with much better shades of personality in Wyatt Earp by James Garner than the over the top performance by Burt Lancaster....the story is closer to reality and the film itself is shot beautifully by Lucien Ballard ( a truly great cinematographer). At the bargain price its being offered on DVD...if you are a western fan...YOU WILL NOT BE DISSAPOINTED."