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Ultra HD : Highly Recommended
Ranking:
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Release Date: February 27th, 2024 Movie Release Year: 1957

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Overview -

The legendary friendship between lawman Wyatt Earp and gentleman gambler Doc Holiday blasts onto the big screen in John Sturges’ The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas in the second of their seven screen partnerships, the film is an over-simplified and highly romanticized telling of events lending more to myth and legend than facts, but rousing performances and great direction set the stage for an iconic classic Western. KLSC gives the film the gorgeous 4K Dolby Vision release it’s long deserved with great audio and a nice commentary track. Highly Recommended

OVERALL:
Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray
Video Resolution/Codec:
2160p HEVC/H.265 - Dolby Vision HDR / HDR10
Length:
122
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.85:1
Audio Formats:
English: DTS-HD MA 5.1/2.0
Subtitles/Captions:
English SDH
Release Date:
February 27th, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

Given Wyatt Earp’s residence in Los Angeles and his close personal friendships with rising stars in Hollywood, his exploits as a famed lawman have become the modern equivalency of  American legend. Since 1932’s Law and Order starring Walter Huston, the story of Wyatt Earp, his lawman brothers Virgil and Morgan, and his best friend Doc Holliday have graced theater screens and television sets again and again for decades. And with each telling the facts get a little more distorted and the tales get a little taller and a little more mythical. John Sturges’ The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral wasn’t the first to tell the story of Earp’s famous gunfight, but it is possibly the one that cemented the overly romanticized version of events into the cultural lexicon. Most certainly loose with the facts, nonetheless the film is a tribute to classic stories of endearing friendship and true good versus absolute evil.

This telling of the story finds Burt Lancaster as Dodge City lawman Wyatt Earp on the trail of outlaw Ike Clanton (Lyle Bettger) and his brother Billy (Dennis Hopper). The only man with possibly any clues to their whereabouts is gentleman gambler and killer Doc Holliday (Kirk Douglas) who travels from town to town with his lady companion Kate (Jo Van Fleet). But when Doc turns out to be a dead end for Wyatt, the two strike up an unlikely friendship. This friendship will carry them through numerous scrapes from Dodge City to Tombstone where Wyatt and his brothers with Doc’s help will have one final standoff to settle all scores with Ike Clanton’s gang at a rundown livery.

It’s probably unnecessary to state this, but you shouldn’t rely on films to give you the straight facts about historical events. Even when a film is trying to be as factual as possible, say something like 1993’s double dose of Wyatt Earp or Tombstone, time, events, and characters are often condensed, altered, and changed to fulfill a cinematically pleasing narrative. An audience may want to be informed but they want to be entertained even more. In truth, no film about Wyatt Earp and his exploits has been factually accurate, but they’re all pretty damned entertaining! 

Whether by the condensed retelling of events or by the more fantastical accounts published in the early years after Wyatt’s death, the story of the Earps and their stand against the evil Clantons and McLaurys has become modern legend. And these legends are ripe material for big-screen storytelling. By the time John Sturges was pulling The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral together, four films and a television series about the Earps had already captured the titular 30-second event. But that didn’t keep the director from giving it a go with plenty of cinematic moxy. 

For newcomers who have yet to kick back to this romanticized retelling of events, you may come away feeling a bit cheated. At just over two hours long, the titular event doesn’t arrive until the final act. In between we see a very loose history of the friendship between Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday and their early brushes with cowboy outlaws Johnny Ringo (John Ireland) and Ed Bailey (Lee Van Cleef). As their friendship grows, Wyatt finds an unexpected love and pathway to a peaceful life with the lady gambler Laura Denbow (a lovely but criminally underused Rhonda Fleming) while Doc steadily loses Kate to his rival Ringo. When the two friends travel to Tombstone, they partner up with Wyatt’s brothers Virgil (John Hudson of The Screaming Skull fame), Morgan (Night of the Lepus’ DeForest Kelly), and James (Adam-12’s Martin Milner). As Wyatt and Doc settle into their new lives in the desert, the rivalry between the Earps and the Clantons and McLaurys will come to a bloody conclusion. 

The main draw of this film is the incredible on-screen chemistry between Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. They’d previously worked together in Byron Haskin’s 1947 noir classic I Walk Alone, but it was Gunfight at the O.K. Corral that brought the stars together as friends. The pair would make five more films together, the best of the pack is the terrifying and thrilling Seven Days in May. As the film’s best assets, Sturges wisely made sure that neither actor spent as little time as possible without the other. While Lancaster and Douglas are the main draw, you have to give credit where it’s due to the rest of the cast. John Ireland is especially great playing to type as the sneering heavy and Lyle Bettger digs in for a nice hot-headed Ike Clanton. Dennis Hopper is equally impressive as Billy Clanton in one of his earliest roles. Jo Van Fleet gives the often one-dimensional character of Kate a firm hook as a tragic character living in Doc Holliday’s wake. Earl Holliman drops by as Wyatt’s Dodge City deputy, it’s fun to see him have some pleasant screentime with Kirk Douglas considering their time together in Last Train from Gun Hill. Keep an eye out for greats like Jack Elam, Whit Bissel, Kenneth Tobey, and Bing Russell. 

In the end, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral may not be the most historically accurate account, but it’s a damned entertaining film. As far as Wyatt Earp/Doc Holliday films go it might not be the best of the pack but it’s one of my favorites. It’s a true Classic-style Western made a decade before the genre would enter its gritty revisionist phase of the 1960s and ‘70s. And it’s not the only time Sturges would work with these characters. In 1967 he’d roll out the very entertaining Hour of the Gun starring James Garner and Jason Robards as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday respectively. That’s a great film, but I still lean towards Gunfight at the O.K. Corral as the better of the two. 

Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
rides the dusty trail towards 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a new two-disc release from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. The 4K is pressed on a BD-100 disc with a BD-50 offering up the 1080p. Both discs are housed in a sturdy standard two-disc case with identical slipcover art. The discs load to static image main menus with standard navigation options.

NOTE: We haven't been able to pull images from the 4K disc yet, all images are from the new Blu-ray included with this 4K disc.

Video Review

Ranking:

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral makes an often spectacular first stand on 4K Dolby Vision thanks to Kino Lober Studio Classics. Reportedly sourced from a new scan of the original 35mm negative, the film is simply magnificent looking. Right from the start, details are crystal clear, colors are more robust and healthy, and the sense of image depth and dimension is notable. It’s something as that Frankie Laine title song plays out that the opening credits now look perfect vivid red instead of the light-pink of the old 2014 Blu-ray. And that’s pretty much how the rest of the film plays out. Primaries, skin tones, whites, and shadows all see much-needed refinement and improvements. Details are crystal clear with nice clean fine lines. Facial features, clothing textures, and little details in the set design are all on display with nice cinematically appealing film grain. The image doesn’t feature any signs of overly aggressive smoothing, bitrate modulation, or unnatural sharpening. The Dolby Vision grade does wonders for all aspects of this transfer letting those highlights in color, black level, and contrast breathe. To be fair to that old 2014 disc, I always thought it was pretty good, but when I started doing the disc flippies it was easy to see how much better this film looks now on both the 4K and included Blu-ray.

Audio Review

Ranking:

On the audio side we have DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 tracks to chose from. Listening to the 5.1 mix, it sounded very similar if not the same as what came with the 2014 disc - which isn’t bad at all. It’s a nice track, lively with plenty of atmosphere. That said, sampling through the 2.0 track, I was really impressed with how well that one works. If it’s a fold-down, it’s a good one as it didn’t sound like there were any missing elements. Both tracks exhibit clean clear dialog, active sound effects for plenty of imaging and dimension, and the Dimitri Tiomkin score is just as rousing as ever!

Special Features

Ranking:

Bonus features for this round aren’t exactly plentiful, but considering the last disc didn’t have any, anything is an improvement in that arena. What we do pick up is a solid and informative audio commentary from C. Courtney Joyner and Henry Parke. The pair offer a lot of thoughts and insights into the film while keeping the experience engaging without long pauses or dead air. After that, we have the tried and true gallery of trailers for other KLSC titles.

  • Audio Commentary featuring C. Courtney Joyner and Henry Parke
  • Trailer
  • KLSC Trailer Gallery:
    • The Devil’s Disciple
    • Vera Cruz
    • The Train
    • Valdez is Coming
    • The Indian Fighter
    • Paths of Glory
    • Lonely Are the Brave
    • Backlash
    • The Great Escape
    • The Satan Bug
    • Joe Kidd

The story of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday and their famous stand has been told numerous times over the decades, but it was John Sturges’ The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral that undoubtedly cemented it as a legendary piece of the American West. True Good versus Absolute Evil; Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas headline this rousing Western. Light on actual historical facts, the film plays up a romanticized version of events with terrific performances from the key players. And now thanks to Kino Lorber Studio Classics, we can enjoy it in full 4K Dolby Vision glory. A terrific transfer is buttressed with two equally respectable audio tracks and a nice new audio commentary holds up the bonus features side of the show. A great film gets a terrific 4K release. Highly Recommended