Join us Thursday as we offer running commentary while watching westerns on Turner Classic Movies.
Turner Classic Movies has rounded up a passel of fine westerns for viewing Thursday, March 19 — many of them featuring legendary lawman Wyatt Earp as a lead or supporting character — and we’d like you to join us as we Live Tweet three of them starting at 8 pm ET.
Specifically: We’ll be providing running commentary on My Darling Clementine (a particular favorite of Hell on Wheels star Anson Mount), Wichita and Winchester ’73. Look for the hashtag #ciTCMwestern on Twitter, and don’t be shy about sharing your own thoughts and observations in real time.
Later in the evening, and on into early morning, you can see the TCM premiere of Doc, starring Stacy Keach and Faye Dunaway, followed by Dodge City, with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, and Badman’s Country, featuring George Montgomery and Buster Crabbe.
Here is a detailed guide to the March 19 TCM western marathon.
My Darling Clementine (1946)
With all due respect to admirers of Tombstone and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, John Ford’s unforgettable drama remains in a class by itself as a cinematic account of the legendary shootout involving Wyatt Earp (Henry Fonda), Doc Holliday (Victor Mature), and the Clanton clan (led by a startlingly vicious Walter Brennan). Of course, as Roger Ebert noted in his respectful appraisal of the movie, Ford takes a unique approach to that showdown: “Usually the gunfight is the centerpiece of the film. Here it plays more like the dispatch of unfinished business; Ford doesn't linger over the violence.” Indeed, Ebert adds, “My Darling Clementine must be one of the sweetest and most good-hearted of all westerns. The giveaway is the title, which is not about Wyatt or Doc or the gunfight, but about Clementine [played by Cathy Downs], certainly the most important thing to happen to Marshal Earp during the story.” (8 pm ET)
Joel McCrea stakes an authoritative claim on the role of Wyatt Earp in this Golden Globe-winning drama directed by cult-favorite filmmaker Jacques Tourneur (Cat People, Out of the Past), which has Earp keeping the peace in the titular Kansas cattle down during the years before his fateful gunfight in Tombstone. The unusually strong supporting cast includes Vera Miles as Wyatt’s sweetheart Laurie McCoy, Peter Graves as Morgan Earp, John Smith (of TV’s Cimarron City and Laramie) as Jim Earp, Lloyd Bridges as raucous cowboy Gyp Clements, Edgar Buchanan as Doc Black, Wallace Ford as newspaper publisher Arthur Whiteside, and Keith Larsen (of the 1958-59 TV series Northwest Passage) as Bat Masterson. Look closely, and you’ll also see Jack Elam and Sam Peckinpah (before he started writing and directing his own westers) in supporting roles. (10 pm ET)
Winchester ’73 (1950)
The first of five notable westerns that paired James Stewart with director Anthony Mann, this hard-edged 1950 drama focuses on Lin McAdam (Stewart), a steely-eyed sharpshooter who traverses the Wild West of 1876 while obsessively pursuing outlaw Dutch Henry Brown (Stephen McNally) — who just happens to be his brother. At one point, the two antagonists compete in a Dodge City shooting contest for a prized Winchester rifle under the watchful eye of Wyatt Earp (Will Geer). McAdam wins, but Dutch Henry is a poor loser — he steals the rifle from his brother, setting into motion a chain of violent events as the Winchester continues to change hands, moving from a tinhorn gunrunner (John McIntire) to a renegade Indian warrior (Rock Hudson) to a cruelly cunning bandit (Dan Duryea). (11:30 pm)
Maverick filmmaker Frank Perry, whose credits range from the groundbreaking indie drama David and Lisa (1992) to the Thomas McGuane-scripted cattle-rustling comedy Rancho Deluxe (1975), directed this gritty revisionist western that takes a brutally cynical approach to dramatizing events leading up to the 1881 gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Stacy Keach is Doc Holliday, who’s depicted as addicted to Katie Elder (Faye Dunaway) a prostitute he wins in a poker game, and opium, which he requires to self-medicate his tuberculosis. And Harris Yulin is Wyatt Earp, seen here as an amoral wheeler-dealer with political ambitions. (1:15 am)
Dodge City (1939)
Errol Flynn earned his spurs in director Michael Curtiz’s enduringly popular western — the actor’s first appearance in a sagebrush saga — as straight-shooting Wade Hatton, a free-spirited soldier of fortune who assumes the job of sheriff to bring law to the lawless town of the title. Olivia de Havilland, Flynn’s frequent co-star, provides the romantic interest as Abbie Irving, the lovely niece of the local doctor, and Bruce Cabot (King Kong) portrays the villain of the piece, corrupt cattle baron Jeff Surrett. (3:15 am ET)
Badman’s County (1958)
Buster Crabbe — the Olympic champion swimmer who found big-screen fame as Tarzan, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers — does the honors as Wyatt Earp in this low-budget oater directed by journeyman filmmaker Fred F. Sears (Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, Don’t Knock the Rock). But George Montgomery is the one who receives top billing as legendary lawman Pat Garrett, who has his hands full dealing with Butch Cassidy (Neville Brand), The Sundance Kid (Russell Johnson – later “The Professor” on Gilligan’s Island), and various other outlaws until he gets help from Earp, Bat Masterson (Gregory Walcott) and Buffalo Bill Cody (Malcom Atterbury). (5 am ET)