138. Tombstone

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Movie: Tombstone

Release Date: December 25, 1993

Director: George P. Cosmatos

Starring: Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Michael Biehn, Powers Boothe, Robert Burke, Dana Delany, Sam Elliott, Stephen Lang, Joanna Pacula, Bill Paxton, Jason Priestly, Michael Rooker, Jon Tenney, Billy Zane, Charlton Heston.

Tag Lines: “I’m your huckleberry!”

“Justice Is Coming.”

“Every town has a story. Tombstone has a legend.”

Relevance: My two roommates in Graduate school wanted to take a trip before our second semester classes began. They chose Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as neither of them had been there before. I had been many times but was eager to go on a trip before jumping back into the books. We had decided to meet up at our apartment at school and venture off from there. The night before we left for our big adventure, we decided to head out to the movies. They chose ‘Tombstone.’ Western movies, to put it mildly, are not necessarily my favorite genre. In fact there are only two on my list of most influential movies of all time (see 288. Unforgiven for the other). However, I begrudgingly went, not knowing the huge impact the movie would have on that weekend trip and my life.

As soon as ‘Tombstone’ began, I was instantly drawn in to the artistic aspects of the film. I was taken by its sets, costumes, hair and make-up. I mean, the authentic facial hair on most of the male actors was quite impressive. I am pretty sure Kurt Russell’s mustache had its own zip code. Then Val Kilmer entered the picture. As soon as he spoke his first words, I was hooked. His performance was mesmerizing. The story then became exciting, intriguing and extremely entertaining. I was swept away by the mostly factual historical tale of Wyatt Earp and the gunfight at the OK Corral. Immediately after the movie ended, the critiques were unanimous. Six enthusiastic thumbs up.

The entire weekend trip that followed was glittered with references to ‘Tombstone.’ Mostly, “I’m your huckleberry.” It was said incessantly. The western theme sort of stayed with us on the trip. One of the bars we went to while in Pittsburgh was a “country line dancing” bar, the last place on earth I ever thought I would be. But I went. Although I didn’t join in on the dancing festivities (I just drank a lot), I watched my one roommate line dance all night long. There were also discussions of boots, hats and the revelation that my other non-dancing friend didn’t know cows actually had hair. He thought they were made of leather. And that was before any alcohol consumption.

When we made it back safe and sound from our trip to Pittsburgh, I told my mom and dad to be on the lookout for ‘Tombstone’ when it was released for rental. I knew my dad and my grandfather (his dad) would absolutely love it. And they did. When I visited them later that year, my mom and dad already owned the VHS of the movie. So did my grandfather. Apparently it was a big hit with the entire family and one that was viewed quite frequently. One night during that visit we watched the film together. It was now my second time watching it, but it was just as exciting as the first time and I was even more impressed by Mr. Kilmer. Even my mom got in on the action and watched a bit of the film with us. Her attraction to the film was its love story, not the gun slinging. She was a sucker for a good love story.

When my grandfather moved out of his home and eventually passed away, I was told to go through his movie collection and take what I wanted. I chuckled and thought, I am sure there isn’t anything that would catch my eye, but I did so anyway. And there was ‘Tombstone.’ Since my parents already owned a copy, I snatched it. It stayed in my movie collection until a few years ago when I upgraded and bought the DVD. The movie regardless of its format will always be a part of my collection. I can honestly say without hesitation that it is my favorite western movie of all time. Not only that, it always reminds me of my grandfather and that one weekend trip to Pittsburgh.

Today’s Thoughts: “Maybe poker’s just not your game, Ike. I know, let’s have a spelling contest.”

I haven’t watched ‘Tombstone’ in at least ten years and was excited to sit down today and indulge again in the western motif. It is not often that I do so. For the most part I watched the movie alone while my son slept and my husband mowed the lawn. However, at one point my husband walked through the living room, looked at the screen and said “I’m your huckleberry.” Obviously, a universally known quote.

The movie was fun to watch again. I was still very impressed with everyone’s facial hair as well as Val Kilmer’s performance. He really is quite spectacular in the role of Doc Holliday. With that said, the rest of the large ensemble including Kurt Russell, Michael Biehn, Powers Boothe, Robert Burke, Dana Delany, Sam Elliott, Stephen Lang, Joanna Pacula, Jason Priestly, Michael Rooker, Jon Tenney and Billy Zane are all equally effective. I have to give a special shout-out to the late great Bill Paxton. He was a very fine actor and was really great in this supporting role. He definitely left the acting world way too soon.

People that really know me might be surprised that ‘Tombstone’ makes my list of most influential movies. Frankly, I am too. But it is simply a great, entertaining movie and one that conjures up great personal memories for me. If you are in the mood for a real rootin’ tootin’ cowboy picture, definitely give ‘Tombstone’ a whirl. Who knows, it may be your huckleberry.

Ways to Watch: YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Prime, Vudu, DVD Availability.

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