is a 1994 semi-biographical Western film
, written by
and Lawrence Kasdan
and directed by Kasdan. It
stars Kevin Costner
in the title role
as lawman Wyatt Earp
, and features an
that includes Dennis Quaid
, Mark Harmon
, Michael Madsen
, Joanna Going
, Bill Pullman
, JoBeth Williams
, Linden Ashby
, and Mare Winningham
The film opens with Wyatt Earp as a teenager living on the family
farm. His older brothers, Virgil
, are away at war serving with the
. 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
home to Missouri, Wyatt
marries a childhood sweetheart, Urilla Sutherland.
move into their own house, and he begins working as a policeman.
Months later, while pregnant
, his wife dies
. 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 and steals his horse, but is
captured a short time later. With Wyatt facing certain hanging, his father bails him
out of jail, telling him to leave and never return to Arkansas.
He begins working as a buffalo
hunter, where he meets Bat and Ed Masterson. The three become
friends and work together hunting buffalo, with the two brothers
working as Wyatt's skinners. Years pass, and he begins working as a Deputy
Marshal in Wichita,
Kansas, and builds a reputation as a good lawman.
recruited to work as a deputy in Dodge City, with a lower salary, but for extra money for each
arrest made, in the end making more than he would have in
In Dodge City he builds a hard reputation, and he
kills his first man, a shooting witnessed by actress Josie Marcus.
Wyatt becomes involved romantically with prostitute Mattie Blaylock
, and the Mastersons begin
working with him as deputies. Wyatt disagrees with Ed Masterson
working as a lawman, believing him to be too passive. However, the
Dodge City council decides that Ed is more acceptable than Wyatt
due to the latter's excessive force
and fire him, appointing Ed to take his place. Wyatt then begins
working for the railroad, capturing outlaws.
While pursuing outlaw Dave Rudabaugh
he is introduced to gunman and gambler Doc
, in Fort Griffin,
, and the two become friends. Holliday assists Earp in
locating Rudabaugh, whom he dislikes tremendously. Shortly
afterward, Wyatt receives word that Ed Masterson has been killed,
having shot and killed both his assailants before dying in the
street. Wyatt returns to Dodge City to help bring law and order.
working there for a while, he and his family move to Tombstone,
Arizona, under the protest of the Earp wives, and
Wyatt immediately finds himself at odds with the
"Cowboy" gang. He meets and becomes involved romantically with
popular actress Josie Marcus, which puts him at odds with her
boyfriend, Sheriff Behan. This relationship also causes stress in
his relationship with Mattie, and becomes the subject of rumor
Wyatt and his brothers Morgan
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
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 becoming very unpopular
Virgil is ambushed and wounded, and 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 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."
All compositions by James Newton Howard.
- "Main Title
- "Home From The War"
- "Going To Town"
- "The Wagon Chase"
- "Mattie Wants Children"
- "Nicholas Springs Wyatt"
- "Is That Your Hat?"
- "The Wedding"
- "Stillwell Makes Bail"
- "It All Ends Now"
- "Urilla Dies"
- "Tell Me About Missouri"
- "The Night Before"
- "O.K. Corral"
- "Down By The River"
- "Kill 'Em All"
- "Dodge City"
- "Leaving Dodge"
- "Indian Charlie"
- "We Stayed Too Long"
- "Winter To Spring "
- "It Happened That Way"
- In the film, two Earp brothers, Virgil
Earp and James Earp, are portrayed
returning home together following their service with the Union Army
in the Civil War. In fact, James was wounded in a Missouri battle early in the war, returning home shortly
thereafter. Virgil Earp actually returned home with another
brother, Newton Earp, who was not
mentioned in the film, but who, like Virgil, served until the war's
- Josie Marcus
was not a well-known actress, and in fact had been in Tombstone,
Arizona, for quite some time prior to Wyatt Earp's arrival,
having lived previously with a lawyer and with Sheriff
Earp is depicted as having shot and killed a man who shot into a
theater in Dodge City,
Kansas. The cowboy's name was George Hoy and, in
fact, both Earp and James Masterson
fired on the man, and it has been said that Masterson actually
killed the man. The presence of James Masterson was ignored in the
- Wyatt Earp is depicted as having met Bat and Ed Masterson while
working as a buffalo hunter out west. Historically, it is disputed
as to when and where he first met the brothers, but it is certain
that when he did meet them he came to know not only Bat and Ed, but
their brother James as well. James was ignored in the film
- Josie Marcus was not present during the George Hoy
- Ed Masterson replaced Marshal Larry Deger as town marshal of
Dodge City following Wyatt Earp's departure, not Earp.
- Wyatt Earp did return to Dodge City following Ed Masterson's
murder, but he did not return and become marshal. Instead, he
returned and began working under lawman Charlie Bassett, whose presence was ignored
in the film.
- Wyatt Earp was never the Marshal of Dodge City. He was
Assistant Marshal and Deputy Marshal.
- Tombstone Marshal Fred White was in fact well liked by the
outlaw "Cowboy" faction, and contrary to the film depiction, by his
own testimony prior to his death, the shooting by Bill Brocius that caused his death was
accidental. Brocius in fact showed remorse and regret over the
- Marshal Fred White was depicted as being an older man, but in
fact was either 31 or 32 at the time of his death.
- The film portrays both the assassination attempt of Virgil Earp and the assassination of Morgan Earp happening on the same night.
- The film also portrays that Virgil Earp lost the use of his
right arm when in reality he lost the use of his left arm.
- Outlaw Johnny Ringo was not shot
and killed during the shootout at "Stinking Springs". His death
happened later, and was "officially" ruled a suicide. Several men were implicated as having
murdered him, to include lawman Wyatt Earp, gunman and gambler Doc
Holliday, gambler Mike O'Rourke, and gunman "Buckskin" Frank Leslie, as well as little
known gunman Lou Cooley, one of the few
men alleged to have never feared Ringo despite his reputation.
Holliday were most certainly in Colorado at the time, and more likely than not the death was
in fact a suicide.
- Wyatt Earp was not involved in one hundred gunfights in his
lifetime. Though an exact figure is difficult to calculate, fewer
than ten would be more accurate.
Kevin Costner was originally involved with the film Tombstone
, another film about Wyatt
Earp written by Kevin Jarre
Costner disagreed with Jarre over the focus of the film (he
believed that the emphasis should have been on Wyatt Earp rather
than the many characters in Jarre's script) and left the project,
eventually teaming up with Kasdan to produce his own Wyatt Earp
project. Costner then used his then-considerable clout to convince
most of the major studios to refuse to distribute the competing
film, which affected casting on the rival project.
However, Wyatt Earp
, released six months after
, was the less successful of the two films,
taking in $25 million on a $63 million budget, compared to
s $56 million domestic gross.
The biopic was not a commercial success, although it was nominated
for an Academy
Award for Best Cinematography
in 1995 and writers Dan Gordon
and Lawrence Kasdan received the Spur Award from the Western
Writers of America for Best Drama Script. The film was also
nominated for five Golden
including Worst Picture, Worst Director and
Worst Screen Couple (for Kevin Costner and "any of his three wives"
played by Annabeth Gish
, Joanna Going
and Mare Winningham
) with Costner winning Worst
Actor and the film being named Worst Remake or Sequel.