Wyatt Earp (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Lawrence Kasdan|
|Music by||James Newton Howard|
|Edited by||Carol Littleton|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Box office||$25.1 million|
Wyatt Earp is a 1994 American biographical Western film directed, produced, and co-written by Lawrence Kasdan, with Dan Gordon. It stars Kevin Costner in the title role as the lawman of the same name, and features an ensemble cast that includes Gene Hackman, Mark Harmon, Michael Madsen, Bill Pullman, Dennis Quaid, Isabella Rossellini, Tom Sizemore, JoBeth Williams, Mare Winningham and Jim Caviezel in one of his earliest roles.
During the American Civil War, teenaged Wyatt Earp lives on his family farm in Pella, Iowa, while his older brothers Virgil and James serve with the Union Army. Wyatt attempts to run away, intending to lie about his age and join the war, but his father catches him. His brothers return home at the war's end, with James gravely wounded, and the family moves west. Wyatt sees a man killed during a gunfight, and vomits at the sight.
Years later, Wyatt works out west as a wagon driver, also serving as a referee for fights, and finds himself at odds with a bully. Wyatt and the bully come to the point of fighting, with the bully intending to shoot him, but Wyatt disarms and defeats him, taking his gun.
Returning home to Missouri, Wyatt marries his childhood sweetheart, Urilla Sutherland. They move into their own house, and he begins working as a policeman. Months later, his pregnant wife dies from typhoid fever. After staying by her side through the illness, Wyatt becomes deeply depressed. Burning their home and possessions, he begins drinking and drifts from town to town, landing in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He robs a man and steals his horse, but is captured. With Wyatt facing certain hanging, his father bails him out of jail, telling him to never return to Arkansas.
Working as a buffalo hunter, Wyatt befriends Bat Masterson and his brother Ed Masterson. Years pass, and Wyatt becomes a deputy marshal in Wichita, Kansas, building a reputation as a good lawman. He is recruited to work as a deputy in Dodge City, with a lower salary but earning extra money for every arrest. In Dodge City, Wyatt kills his first man, witnessed by actress Josie Marcus. Wyatt becomes romantically involved with a prostitute, Mattie Blaylock, and the Mastersons join him as deputies. Wyatt believes Ed is too passive, but the Dodge City council fires Wyatt for his excessive force, appointing Ed to take his place. Wyatt begins working for the railroad, capturing outlaws.
Pursuing outlaw Dave Rudabaugh, Wyatt is introduced to gunman and gambler Doc Holliday in Fort Griffin, Texas, and the two become friends. Holliday assists Earp in locating Rudabaugh, whom he dislikes tremendously. Wyatt receives word that Ed has been killed, having shot and killed both his assailants before dying in the street. Wyatt returns to Dodge City to help bring law and order, before moving his family to Tombstone, Arizona, despite the wives’ and Mattie's protests. Wyatt immediately finds himself at odds with the outlaw Cowboy gang. He becomes romantically involved with Josie Marcus, angering her boyfriend Sheriff Behan and stressing his relationship with Mattie, and becomes the subject of rumor about town.
Wyatt and his brothers Morgan and Virgil arrest several Cowboys, and Virgil takes over as marshal following the murder of Fred White. Tension builds between the brothers and the gang as Wyatt breaks up several altercations involving the Cowboys, particularly Ike Clanton, and Holliday swears his loyalty to Wyatt, whom he considers his only real friend. The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral makes the brothers very unpopular in town. Virgil is ambushed and wounded, and Morgan is killed. In the Vendetta Ride, Wyatt and his friends take revenge against the remaining Cowboys.
Many years later, Wyatt and Josie mine for gold in Alaska. A young man on the same boat recognizes Wyatt, and recounts a story in which Wyatt had saved the boy's uncle, "Tommy Behind-The-Deuce". Wyatt says to Josie, "Some people say it didn't happen that way", to which she responds, "Never mind them, Wyatt. It happened that way."
An epilogue states that Holliday died six years later in a hospital in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Members of the Clanton gang continued to die mysteriously for years after Morgan's murder. Josie and Wyatt's marriage lasted 47 years until Wyatt died at age 80 in Los Angeles.
Costner was originally involved with the film Tombstone, another film about Wyatt Earp, written by Kevin Jarre of Glory. However, Costner disagreed with Jarre over the focus of the film (he believed that the emphasis should have been on Wyatt Earp rather than the many characters in Jarre's script) and left the project, eventually teaming up with Kasdan to produce his own Wyatt Earp project. The film was also originally meant to be a six-hour miniseries until Kevin Costner joined the cast. Costner proceeded to use his then-considerable clout to convince most of the major studios to refuse to distribute the competing film, which affected casting on the rival project.
|Soundtrack album by|
|Label||Warner Bros. Records|
The score was composed by James Newton Howard, conducted by Marty Paich with The Hollywood Recording Musicians Orchestra and released by Warner Bros. Records in 1994. It was later re-released in 2013in an expanded edition by La-La Land.
- "Main Title"
- "Home from the War"
- "Going to Town"
- "The Wagon Chase"
- "Mattie Wants Children"
- "Nicholas Springs Wyatt"
- "Is That Your Hat?"
- "The Wedding"
- "Stillwell Makes Bail"
- "It All Ends Now"
- "Urilla Dies"
- "Tell Me About Missouri"
- "The Night Before"
- "O.K. Corral"
- "Down by the River"
- "Kill 'Em All"
- "Dodge City"
- "Leaving Dodge"
- "Indian Charlie"
- "We Stayed Too Long"
- "Winter to Spring"
- "It Happened That Way"
Wyatt Earp, released six months after Tombstone, was the less successful of the two films, taking in $25 million on a $63 million budget, compared to Tombstone's $56 million domestic gross on a $25 million budget. The film opened at No. 4 at the box office, grossing $7.5 million in its first week.
Wyatt Earp received mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a "rotten" score of 44%, based on 27 reviews, with an average rating of 5.3/10. The site's consensus states: "Easy to admire yet difficult to love, Wyatt Earp buries eye-catching direction and an impressive cast in an undisciplined and overlong story." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 2 out of 4 stars, saying "Wyatt Earp plays as if they took Tombstone and pumped it full of hot air. It involves many of the same characters and much of the same story, but little of the tension and drama. It's a rambling, unfocused biography of Wyatt Earp (Kevin Costner), starting when he's a kid and following his development from an awkward would-be lawyer into a slick gunslinger. This is a long journey, in a three-hour film that needs better pacing."
Todd McCarthy of Variety praised the cast and production values, but remarked, "If you're going to ask an audience to sit through a three-hour, nine-minute rendition of an oft-told story, it would help to have a strong point of view on your material and an urgent reason to relate it. Such is not the case with Wyatt Earp." Similarly, Caryn James of The New York Times complimented the film's ambition and effort to portray a more human Wyatt, but still felt that "the film's literal-minded approach to the hero's dark soul is one of its terrible problems. 'Wyatt Earp' labors to turn this mythic figure into a complex man; instead it makes him a cardboard cutout and his story a creepingly slow one."
Year-end worst-of lists
- 2nd – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
- 2nd – Dan Craft, The Pantagraph
- 4th – Glenn Lovell, San Jose Mercury News
- 7th – Robert Denerstein, Rocky Mountain News
- 8th – John Hurley, Staten Island Advance
- Top 12 (Alphabetically ordered, not ranked) – David Elliott, The San Diego Union-Tribune
Wyatt Earp was nominated for five Razzie Awards including Worst Picture, Worst Director and Worst Screen Couple (Costner and "any of his three wives"), winning two for Worst Remake or Sequel and Worst Actor (Costner). However, it was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography in 1995 and writers Dan Gordon and Lawrence Kasdan received the Spur Award from the Western Writers of America for Best Drama Script.
- Tombstone - starring Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp, released around the same time.
- Frontier Marshal - starring Randolph Scott as Wyatt Earp, released in 1939.
- My Darling Clementine – directed by John Ford, about the lead up to and battle of the OK Corral, released in 1946.
- Gunfight at the O.K. Corral – directed by John Sturges, about the same events, released in 1957.
- Hour of the Gun - starring James Garner as Wyatt Earp, released in 1967.
- "WYATT EARP (12)". British Board of Film Classification. July 11, 1994. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
- "Fresh Ideas Pay Off at Box Office : Movies: Strong openings boost concept films such as 'Speed,' 'The Shadow' and other original ideas, while star vehicles stall". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
- "Wyatt Earp". Box Office Mojo. IMDB.
- "HOLLYWOOD HABITS : Leave 'Wyatt Earp' Off His Tombstone : Movies: Scripter Dan Gordon wants critics to know that the film is different from what he and Kevin Costner wrote and from his book". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 5, 2010.
- "Wyatt Earp". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved November 9, 2017.
- Beck, Henry Cabot. "The "Western" Godfather". True West Magazine. October 2006.
- "Wyatt Earp (James Newton Howard)". Filmtracks. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
- "Tombstone". Box Office Mojo. IMDb.
- "Weekend Box Office". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
- "Wyatt Earp". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved November 9, 2017.
- Ebert, Roger (June 24, 1994). "Wyatt Earp Movie Review & Film Summary (1994)". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
- McCarthy, Todd (June 20, 1994). "Wyatt Earp". Variety. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
- James, Caryn (June 24, 1994). "Review/Film: Wyatt Earp; Into the Heart And Soul Of Darkness". NYTimes.com. The New York Times Company. Archived from the original on November 21, 2015. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
- "Cinemascore". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
- Travers, Peter (December 29, 1994). "The Best and Worst Movies of 1994". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
- Craft, Dan (December 30, 1994). "Success, Failure and a Lot of In-between; Movies '94". The Pantagraph. p. B1.
- Lovell, Glenn (December 25, 1994). "The Past Picture Show the Good, the Bad and the Ugly -- a Year Worth's of Movie Memories". San Jose Mercury News (Morning Final ed.). p. 3.
- Denerstein, Robert (January 1, 1995). "Perhaps It Was Best to Simply Fade to Black". Rocky Mountain News (Final ed.). p. 61A.
- Hurley, John (December 30, 1994). "Movie Industry Hit Highs and Lows in '94". Staten Island Advance. p. D11.
- Elliott, David (December 25, 1994). "On the big screen, color it a satisfying time". The San Diego Union-Tribune (1, 2 ed.). p. E=8.
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