Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Film Review: TOMBSTONE (1993, "George Cosmatos")

Stars: 5 of 5.
Running Time: 134 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Kurt Russell, Terry O'Quinn, Val Kilmer, John Fasano, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, Jon Tenney (HOMECOMING), Charlton Heston, Sam Elliott, Dana Delaney, Thomas Haden Church, Michael Rooker (HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER), Harry Carey, Jr., Wyatt Earp (real relative), Robert John Burke (Hal Hartley alum, DUST DEVIL, and ROBOCOP mantle-taker-upper after Peter Weller left), John Corbett, Billy Zane, Billy Bob Thorton, Frank Stallone (Sly's brother and fabulous musician- STAYING ALIVE soundtrack), Robert Mitchum (just did the narration unfortunately), Stephen Lang (MANHUNTER), Christopher Mitchum (Robert's son).
Tag-line: "Every town has a story. Tombstone has a legend."
Best one-liner: "I'm you're huckleberry."

Five reasons why 1993's TOMBSTONE is the best telling of the Wyatt Earp legend (a tale that's been told by everyone from John Ford to a STAR TREK episode to Anthony Mann to a Kenny Rogers TV Movie to Lawrence Kasdan).

#1. 'Staches, 'staches, 'staches.

Every 'stache in this film is authentic, from Sam Elliott's dignified silvery behemoth to Kurt Russell's angry, in-command, lip carpet to Jon Tenney's slimy, roguish dandy.

#2. "I'm your huckleberry!"

Val Kilmer's gleeful, sickly, girlish, fey performance as Doc Holliday. Hands down, the oddest performance in a Western since Marlon Brando in THE MISSOURI BREAKS, and it's completely spot-on. "You're a daisy if you do!"

#3. The redunkulous cast of supporting players. From Powers Boothe to Michael Biehn to Bill Paxton to Michael Rooker to Terry O'Quinn to Billy Zane to Charlton Heston to Billy Bob Thornton to a Robert Mitchum narration, they're all here. And they're all brilliant.

#4. Co-written by John Fasano, director of the infamous ROCK N' ROLL NIGHTMARE (reviewed here). Damn! That's gotta get points for something!

#5. The fact that it's the only film Kurt Russell ever directed. (Everyone says that he usurped control from the ghost-directing George Cosmatos (who "directed" COBRA and RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II for Stallone) and refashioned the script, flow, and structure, even at the expense of his own screentime).

And the film's got all the energy, humility, dignity, sincerity, and intensity that one would expect from Russell, along with one of his best performances since THE THING (and this was his follow-up to CAPTAIN RON). "You tell 'em I'M coming... and hell's coming with me, you hear?... Hell's coming with me!"

-Sean Gill

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