Tombstone was the first shot fired in a double-barreled blast of Wyatt Earp movies in 1993 and 1994. While Lawrence Kasdan and Kevin Costner’s Wyatt Earp was too long, plodding and ponderous, George Pan Cosmato’s entry in the O.K. Corral sweepstakes was violent and operatic, a noisy revenge tale told at a fever pitch. It was also the better movie, even if its fidelity to the facts of Earp’s life was less than letter perfect. Movie audiences have never been that picky about historical accuracy in their westerns. Young Guns did all right and it was hardly a scholarly work on the life of Billy the Kid.
Often imitated, this movie practically drew the blueprint for the World War IIsubmarine movie. This lean, efficient story of the hunter and the hunted rises above the pack, courtesy of a pair of superb performances in the roles of two crisply drawn antagonists. Some elements of the film seem conspicuously dated, especially the scenes aboard the American destroyer that don’t involve Robert Mitchum hunting the submarine, but when the action is joined, the forced, stilted dialog disappears like it never existed.
Despite being produced explicitly as a propaganda film during World War II, this adaptation of Ted W. Lawson’s account of his own experiences as a pilot during the famous Doolittle raid on Tokyo is a remarkably authentic account of the daring air attack on April 18, 1942. Still, some elements of this are sufficiently dated that this is one classic film that could stand a modern remake.
Darryl Zanuck’s multi-national epic occasionally plays like an academic lecture on the events of June 5 and 6, 1944, albeit an interesting lecture with some really cool film. The Longest Day covers the first twenty-four hours of the invasion of France from American, British, French and German perspectives, employing separate directors for each nationality and shooting in the native languages of those involved. This gives the film a level of authenticity that was fairly atypical of war movies of the time.