Hour of the Gun, Marshal Wyatt Earp kills a couple of men of the Clanton gang in a fight. In revenge, Clanton’s thugs kill the Marshal’s brother. Thus, Wyatt starts to chase the killers together with his friend Doc Holliday.
One of the best tellings of the Earp-Clanton feud
The story of the showdown between the brothers Earp and the Clanton gang is certainly as much a part of American mythology as the Puritans on the first Thanksgiving or Lincoln at Gettysburg. Hollywood certainly loves to tell the tale over and over again. In fact this is director John Sturges’s second telling.
The Gunfight at the OK Corral done in 1956 by this director had as the climax the famous gunfight. Here in Hour of the Gun, Sturges starts his story with the gunfight and the results afterward.
Ike Clanton played by Robert Ryan in his usual grim fashion is not about to let Wyatt Earp triumph after killing some of his gang and his kin. He sets in motion a series of events that bring tragedy on the Earp family and a sinister turn in the character of Wyatt Earp.
The usual lackadaisical and quizzical James Garner is also pretty grim in this picture. He’s throwing away the law he’s sworn to uphold and the set of moral rules he lives by. And it’s tearing away his character which is something Doc Holiday is deeply concerned with.
James Garner ranks right up there with all the fine actors like Henry Fonda, Burt Lancaster, Randolph Scott, Kevin Costner and Kurt Russell who have played Earp. James Garner never turned a bad performance in on the screen and he even got to play Wyatt Earp again in Sunset for Blake Edwards.
And Jason Robards, Jr. goes every step of the way with Garner as Doc Holiday. Holiday is the usual cynical alcoholic who’s a jaded idealist and recognizes Earp as the real deal hero. His concern for Earp’s character disintegration registers well in his performance.
Watch for a young Jon Voight, pre-Midnight Cowboy, as Curly Bill Brocius, a Clanton gang member.
This is a real western classic. And except for Hugh O’Brian’s television series, the most accurate portrayal of the OK Corral events.