Available on Blu-ray.
Few westerns galvanize as much as Tombstone does. Once Upon A Time in the West and Unforgiven do and that has much to do with their actors and actresses. Such is the case with Tombstone. Val Kilmer‘s Doc Holliday, like Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow, is the standout performance in the film, the reason for seeing the film, its most lauded element. He is charismatic and has some of the best line deliver of any character in the film. If Kilmer’s Doc Hollywood and Costner’s Wyatt Earp were in the same film, it would have been a one-two powerhouse. Tombstone shifts back and forth at times, striving to entertain rather than focus on reality. Wyatt Earp is more of a character study of an historical figure while Tombstone is its action movie cousin. Johnny Ringo (Michael Bien) and Curly Bill Brocius (Powers Booth) are of note in the film as well, making their presence felt whenever they are on screen. Many catch phrases were coined (or re-coined as they existed previously but ceased to be used) because of this film, “I’m your Huckleberry” being the most famous.
Seeing a film like this in 1080p gives the viewer the opportunity to see all the detail work that went into the film as well as the details of certain character’s faces. Sharpness comes and goes with Leone-grade close-ups and the wide vistas of the film. The O.K. Carrol and the last gunfight also benefit from the high-resolution transfer.
The biggest instance where you will notice the English 5.1 DTS-HD MA (48 kHz/24-bit) soundtrack is during the O.K. Carrol shot out and all subsequent gun battles. Surround sound sequences do not happen all the time. but you will notice them during these scenes. For this to be present during the whole film would have taken a lot of audio attention. That costs money.
The Making of Tombstone
A three part behind-the-scenes featurette. The viewer finds out that there are eighty-five speaking parts in the film. Wyatt Earp direct descendant, Wyatt Earp III has a part in the film as Billy Clairborne. The cast and director talk about demystifying historical people. The viewer finds out Doc helped Wyatt find someone in the past and that is how they became friends. Val Kilmer talks about how Doc is a southern aristocrat, born 1851, son of a Mayor. Kurt Russell discusses how Wyatt is a cheater both in cards and with his wife. Director George P. Cosmatos says that to climb is easy, climbing a mountain is difficult.
The fact that it is an ensemble cast for the film is mentioned and that they were trying to make an authentic western. If that was the case, why do some six shooters in the film fire 8-11 times before being reloaded? The two location for the film’s shoot are discussed. Catherine Hardwicke, the production designer on the film, discusses how buildings were built from the floor up. A prop guy talks about how authentic/antique saddles from the period were used in the film as were the guns. Clothing was made in the same fashion as they were made during that time as well. Buckaroos volunteered to be extras in the film. They brought their own gear and lived in tents on set while 100 degrees outside. Thomas Haden Church talks about the importance of the O.K. Carrol gun fight, though it only lasts for under a minute. The director describes the the Earps and Doc as either looking like priests or undertakers while approaching the Carrol. Michael Rooker poses the question of whether a badge makes you the law, makes you right, as the Cowboys and the Earps are so similar.
Director’s Original Storyboards
The O.K. Corral Shootout. The storyboards are in brown and are pre-production drawings made to map out the O.K. Carrol sequence. This special feature is four minutes long.
Trailers and TV Spots
The Theatrical and Teaser Trailer for the film are present as well as the TV Spot “Friends”
A good presentation of an action western with memorable dialogue and battles. Unfortunately this disc does not contain the audio commentary by director George P. Cosmatos nor does it contain the extended edition of the film, only the theatrical version. What you see is what you get. For fans of this film looking for more in the same vein, check out HBO’s excellent western television series Deadwood.