Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

I spent the morning preparing for a lecture, and then I returned home for lunch. I browsed through the record store and saw a complete set of episodes of “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” I thought it was a funny program when I was a kid, but I don’t know if I’d want to sit through all of it now. I walked back to the office to grade some papers, and I finished my class early. I watched The Big Bang Theory and then “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.” Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas made up a good team, although I found it hard to believe that Douglas was dying of tuberculosis. Lancaster was Wyatt Earp, of course, and he showed a charisma on screen that actors like Kevin Costner didn’t have. Frankie Laine sang the opening theme song, and it was good to hear him, but the way the music commented on the action started to make me think of “Blazing Saddles.” One of the thoughts I had while watching the movie was that John Sturges was a very good director. The colors in this movie didn’t look bright, like in an MGM musical. It looked like it was a constantly cloudy day out there. One of the women in the cast was Jo Van Fleet. This was ten years before “Cool Hand Luke,” and she looked very different. She caused a lot of trouble, but I don’t think you can kill a bad woman in a 1950s Western. The other woman was Rhonda Fleming, who had a pretty face and bright red hair, although she was not as striking as Maureen O’Hara. In the sexist time period, women are not allowed to gamble, and so Wyatt locks her up for playing poker. I don’t know how he could have fallen in love with her. I guess it’s the movies, and he has to show his heterosexuality after spending so much time with Doc Holliday. The story is somewhat slow-moving, as we spend the first hour listening to Doc’s coughing and watching Wyatt trying to keep law and order without a gun. A good scene showed Wyatt taking a gun away from a drunk. Some men can’t bring themselves to shoot and kill another human being even though they act tough. It seemed like that was the same point that was made in Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven.” The cast was impressive, because it also had Earl Holliman, Dennis Hopper, DeForest Kelley, Martin Milner, and Lee Van Cleef. DeForest Kelley didn’t say much. He was part of a scene in which the men sat around looking agonized to the point of being comical. Many times the women in a Western make more sense. I couldn’t see why Wyatt, Doc, and the other men would walk into a situation where they were outnumbered. Why does it always seem that when the good guys get shot in a gunfight, they always get grazed in the arm? They never get shot in the face or the testicles. Somehow, I knew that the gunfight in the end would start with about fifteen minutes left in the movie. It’s what we were waiting for during most of the previous two hours. Does it really matter if Wyatt marries Rhonda? He called her a tramp, and women like her are everywhere. What is catching up to her in California going to do? There is a bit of suspense with Doc. You wonder whether he’s going to die. You can’t help thinking about Val Kilmer in “Tombstone.” Frankie Laine’s singing became very imposing at times, reminding me of that commercial in which he sang, “How do you handle a hungry man? The Manhandlers.” Martin Milner sure didn’t look like he was nineteen, as his character said he was. He looked nearly the same as he did in “Adam-12.” Dennis Hopper was far, far way from being the kinds of characters he would play in “Easy Rider” or “Blue Velvet.” He and Lancaster have a confrontation in which Lancaster said, “Don’t make me do it.” I flashed back to Drew Barrymore in “Firestarter.” There was a Hollywood resolution to that moment that made me groan. I think that this movie compares favorably to “My Darling Clementine” and “Tombstone.” In fact, it might be my favorite of the three, even though it seems wrong to prefer a John Sturges movie to a John Ford movie. I like a good Western that is in color, like “The Searchers” or “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” I read that the gunfight happened on October 26, 1881. Wyatt Earp said that he was too young to be in the Civil War. This movie was a lot of non-action during the first hour, and then there is a turning point where someone is killed, prompting the big showdown at the end. There is a predictable quality to it, but it’s one of those movies that you watch for the old-time movie stars. I don’t know if I can stand watching anyone who was born after 1980 in any movie. I don’t know I could watch a new Ghostbusters movie. This movie ended on an unrealistic, upbeat note, but I see that as having consideration for the audience, which is something that I miss. The movie felt a bit long, and it didn’t take advantage of the wide screen. I imagined it seemed pretty cool in 1957, though. Frank Gorshin used to do good impressions of both Lancaster and Douglas, and he could have done a one-man reenactment of this movie, and he would have been hilarious. I didn’t have any energy to watch any more television after the movie ended. I still haven’t adjusted to Daylight Saving Time. I heard on the news that the Raiders had signed a couple of players. I wondered how Harrison Ford was doing recovering from his injuries last week. It rained during the night. I craved pizza, like James Caan in “Brian’s Song.” I saw that tickets for Aretha Franklin at the Oracle Arena on August 10 will go on sale soon. Some of the people who died on March 11 include F.W. Murnau (1931), Alexander Fleming (1955), Oskar Mayer (1955), Erle Stanley Gardner (1970), Richard Brooks (1992), Vince Edwards (1996), Betty Hutton (2007), and Merlin Olsen (2010). Today is a birthday for Nina Hartley (56) and Bobby McFerrin (65). This morning I was sadly informed that my brother died on Sunday. He had been struggling with illnesses for the last seven years. The pain is over for him now, but he leaves behind a sad family. He was a great brother.

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