Wyatt Earp

  • Directors: Lawrence Kasdan
  • Producers: Kevin Costner, Jim Wilson, Lawrence Kasdan
  • Writers: Dan Gordon, Lawrence Kasdan
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Biography, Romance, Western
  • Actors: Kevin Costner, Dennis Quaid, Gene Hackman, David Andrews, Linden Ashby, Jeff Fahey, Joanna Going

The film opens with Wyatt Earp as a teenager living on the family farm. His older brothers, Virgil and James, are away at war serving with the Union Army. Wyatt dreams of war, and packs some belongings, bids his younger siblings goodbye, and attempts to run away, intending to lie about his age and join the Union Army. He doesn’t make it off the farm before his father catches him and forces him to return home. A short while later, both brothers return home at the war’s end, with James gravely wounded. Shortly afterwards, the family moves west. It is during this move that Wyatt first sees a man killed, shot during a gunfight. He gets sick at the sight, and vomits.

Years pass, finding him working out west as a wagon driver. During his time there, he works also as a referee for fights, and finds himself at odds with a bully. Wyatt and the bully eventually come to the point of fighting, with the bully intending to shoot Wyatt. Wyatt disarms him and defeats him, taking his gun as a trophy.

Returning home to Missouri, Wyatt marries a childhood sweetheart, Urilla Sutherland. The two move into their own house, and he begins working as a policeman. Months later, while pregnant, his wife dies from typhus. He stays by her side throughout the illness, becoming deeply depressed afterward. He burns their home and all they own, begins drinking, and drifting from town to town, eventually landing in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He robs a man for money and steals his horse, but is captured only a short time later. Facing certain hanging, his father bails him out of jail, telling him to leave and never return to Arkansas.

Wyatt and his brothers Morgan and Virgil arrest several Cowboys, and Virgil takes over as marshal following the murder of town marshal Fred White. The brothers find themselves at odds with the “Cowboys” often, and tension builds. Wyatt breaks up several altercations involving the “Cowboys”, particularly Ike Clanton, and Doc Holliday swears his loyalty to Wyatt, whom he considers his only real friend. Eventually the Gunfight at the OK Corral occurs, with the brothers being looked upon by much of the population as villains, and the rest as heroes. Virgil is ambushed and wounded, then his brother Morgan is killed. The film then shows only a glimpse of the Vendetta Ride with Wyatt and his friends taking out revenge on the remaining “Cowboys”, then skips to many years later with he and Josie mining for gold in Alaska. While enroute by boat, a young man on the same boat recognizes Wyatt, and recounts a story in which Wyatt had saved the life of the boy’s uncle, “Tommy behind the deuce”. The film ends with Wyatt saying to Josie “A lot of people say it didn’t happen that way”, to which she responds “Never mind them Wyatt. It happened that way”.

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