John Sturges’ rousing “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” could never be confused with an historical study aid; the film is structured as an illustrative compliment to the ballad form, here colorfully vocalized by Frankie Laine, and commensurate with the said form, the story is related as an inflated tale of mythic heroics. However, as an unashamed piece of pure Hollywood hokum, there is much to recommend. Burt Lancaster portrays frontier legend Wyatt Earp as a puritanical figure of almost demonically possessed dimensions; his unwavering morality seems to exaggerate the actor’s signature physical rigidity (no one moved as gracefully while remaining as physically robotic as Lancaster) to the point where the lawman gives the impression of being unequipped with knees and elbows.
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