Hour of the Gun is a 1967 Western film depicting Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday during their 1881 battles against Ike Clanton and his brothers in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and the gunfight's aftermath in and around Tombstone, Arizona.
The film is based on the non-fiction book Tombstone's Epitaph by Douglas D. Martin, with a screenplay by Edward Anhalt, and is directed by John Sturges. This film attempts more historical accuracy than most motion picture accounts of the events, in that Ike Clanton is shown, correctly, to have survived the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, whereas previous films had him killed at the gunfight. The film goes on to explore what happened after the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
Outnumbered but determined, Wyatt Earp (James Garner), his brothers Virgil (Frank Converse) and Morgan (Sam Melville) and ally Doc Holliday (Jason Robards) confront and clearly get the best of the Ike Clanton gang in a violent shootout at the O.K. Corral in the Arizona town of Tombstone.
Ike (Robert Ryan), a rustler, conspires to have the Earps charged with murder and tried in a court of law. When they are cleared, Virgil runs for Tombstone City Sheriff, but is ambushed and maimed by some of Clanton's hired guns. Morgan elects to take the job in his brother's place, but, unlike his brother who is injured, he is killed.
Doc Holliday, a gambler who has been on the wrong side of the law himself more than once, is terminally ill with tuberculosis and is admitted into a Colorado sanitarium. Earp intends to clear out of Tombstone with what's left of his family and move to California, but changes his mind upon being appointed a federal marshal for the territory.
Guns blazing, Earp and his posse ruthlessly hunt and kill various members of Clanton's gang. He rides to Mexico for a final showdown with Ike, shooting him dead. He makes one last trip to Holliday's death bed to say goodbye to his unlikely friend, then hangs up his badge and guns for good.
- James Garner as Wyatt Earp
- Jason Robards as Doc Holliday
- Robert Ryan as Ike Clanton
- Albert Salmi as Octavius Roy (prosecuting attorney)
- Charles Aidman as Horace Sullivan (defense attorney)
- Steve Ihnat as Andy Warshaw (Clanton man)
- Michael Tolan as Pete Spence (new Tombstone city Sheriff)
- William Windom as Texas Jack Vermillion
- Lonny Chapman as Turkey Creek Johnson
- Larry Gates as John P. Clum
- William Schallert as Herman Spicer (judge)
- Bill Fletcher as Jimmy Bryan (Cochise County Sheriff)
- Karl Swenson as Dr. Charles Goodfellow
- Austin Willis as Anson Safford
- Monte Markham as Sherman McMasters (Tucson Sheriff)
- Richard Bull as Thomas Fitch (attorney)
- Sam Melville as Morgan Earp
- Jon Voight as Curly Bill Brocius (Clanton man)
- Robert Phillips as Frank Stilwell
- Frank Converse as Marshal Virgil Earp
The movie can be seen as a sequel of sorts to John Sturges's fictionalized film from ten years earlier, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which had featured Burt Lancaster as Earp and Kirk Douglas as Holliday. However, it cannot be considered a direct sequel as Ike Clanton is killed at the end of the earlier film (during the Gunfight at the Ok Corral itself). In Hour of the Gun, Clanton not only survives the gunfight, but is a major protagonist thereafter. Where Gunfight at the O.K. Corral is more about the main gun battle, this film begins with the gunfight and moves forward from there. Because Hal B. Wallis had scripted everything in the earlier Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Sturges was disappointed with that film. Hour of the Gun is more of a psychological "melancholy character study".
Garner also played the lead as Wyatt Earp in a different movie filmed twenty-one years later, Blake Edwards's Sunset (1988), a comedy thriller based on the 1920s period during which Earp was a technical adviser for silent films. The film's music is composed by Jerry Goldsmith.
Hour of the Gun was filmed in the state of Durango, Mexico; at Estudios Churubusco Azteca (studio) in Mexico City, México D.F., Mexico; San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico; and in Torreón, Coahuíla, Mexico.
Bruce Elder, at Allmovie, calls Garner's portrayal of Earp as "taciturn, emotionally repressed, deeply troubled and torn", but criticizes Edward Anhalt's script as being too strict to historical facts and confining the actors, especially Garner. Eleanor Quin at Turner Classic Movies (TCM) calls it "Sturges' finest film"; and says that it is a "conflict between moral righteousness and the temptation of personal revenge". Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times, says: "Garner turns in one of his best performances."