A Glance at the Western Film Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

This is predominantly an old western film based largely on historical events that really occurred. The movie focuses on the parties involved in the actual historical gunfight, building up backstory and character relationships. It is a 1957 production, so understandably it is quite dated viewed from today’s context, however was not half bad for its time.

In classic Hollywood representation, the film exaggerates the events of history to heighten viewer excitement and as such includes the aspects most fondly remembered like gunfights, gambling, egos and relationships. Gunfight at the O.K. Corral also features quite a star-studded cast, especially for the time, as well as an historic theme, making it a rather immersive portrayal.

Historical Gunfight at the O.K. Corral Movie

Movies based on real events often leave a lasting impact with the viewers because there is more tangibility to the entire experience, immersing the audience a little bit further. Additionally everyone likes watching the characters on TV and the big screen act and be relatable, which with an actual historical guideline makes it even easier as these events took place realistically to begin with.

Now whilst the actual event took place in 1881 and the film was released in 1957, plus the added exaggeration that Hollywood is renowned for, the events are not exactly one hundred per cent accurate. Reality however is not as exciting as fiction and so a few liberties, even today, are usually welcome.

The general storyline of Gunfight at the O.K. Corral the film are the events leading up to the gun battle in Fort Griffin, Texas, with the battle ultimately being the culminating event. It follows the families and individuals involved including Doc Holliday, Ed Bailey, Ike Clanton and Wyatt Earp.

There are scenes of other gun battles surrounding the penultimate one, with bank robbers and gamblers involved. The mainline of betting focus is on an attractive young female gambler, one Laura Denbow, who is arrested in the film for gambling as a woman, an illegal action at the time. This lends further historical connection to the movie as well as incorporates the trials and tribulations around this interesting industry.

The final fight in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral historically took around 30 seconds in reality, something rather extended for the film, with even the exact layout of the battle slightly different. But it’s easy to pick flaws in a production decades later, blessed with that much hindsight it would be hard not to in fact. The movie was still well received at the time and went about immersing viewers in the history of the world around them, even if somewhat bloated.

Casting and Additional Notes

As mentioned above, this movie had quite a star cast from those available in the 1950s, and this made bringing the characters to life that much easier for director John Sturges. The cast includes names like Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Rhonda Fleming and Jo Van Fleet, each adopting some pivotal roles in the movie. Gunfight at the O.K. Corral is essentially following the old west theme cliché, but by basing it on real events it makes it far more compelling emotionally as this is the aspects writers and directors can then focus on given a rough storyline.