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Thursday, 22 January 2009


Got this book today - another impulse buy. Well I was in Borders browsing and I came across it and - well, I've not got a Holliday reference on my shelf and this one comes with some good quotes.

Doc Holliday
Gary l. Roberts
Wiley $18.95 £12.99

It was published in 2006 and looks a nice scholarly read. It's surprising how little is generally known about Holliday - sure everyone knows of his friendship with Wyatt Earp and his part in that infamous gunfight that has become known as, The Gunfight at the OK Corral. Gunfight at a vacant lot, may be more historically accurate but it doesn't have quite the same ring.

Still this book looks to cover Holliday's entire life so I'm looking forward to reading it and one day posting some of my new found knowledge in another Western Icons piece.

What I find interesting from looking at the pictures is that although, Val Kilmer's portrayal is generally considered the definitive Doc, Dennis Quaid's is much more physically near the mark. Mind you I've always thought so and think that Costner's Wyatt Earp should be better thought of than it is and in many ways I think it is better than the admittedly awesome Tombstone which was released around the same time.

Which leads me onto the other Earp/Holliday movies. John Sturges's 1957 Gunfight at the OK Corral had Kirk Douglas in the role of the doc and the follow up, Hour of the Gun boasted a rather excellent doc played by Jason Robards. And the far too hefty Victor Mature played the character alondside Henry Ford's lean, mean Earp in John Ford's My Darling Clementine.

None of the above films could claim to be historically accurate but they are all excellent movies in their own right. Course there have been many more films but the above are, in my opinion, the best of the bunch.

For my vote the all time worse Holliday was Walter Houston in The Outlaw, a western that is so bad it's bloody brilliant. Where else could you see Holliday teamed up with Billy the Kid and both on the run from Pat Garret?

Oh and of course Jane Russel's breasts are shown at every opportuniy.


C.K. Dexter Haven said...

Glad to see that there are actually scholarly books on Doc Holliday! My knowledge is limited to Time-Life's Old West series...which had a great ad campaign "John Wesley Hardin...who shot a man just for snorin'!" I think Jack Palance did the ads...

I've always preferred Wyatt Earp over Tombstone, despite how depressing some of it is.

Ever see 1967's Hour of the Gun? I'm big on film scores, and Jerry Goldsmith's music makes the film one I watch more than it deserves. I like Jason Robards' take on Doc, particularly the scenes when Holliday is dying.

David Cranmer said...

This would go well with my Inventing Wyatt Earp that is still one of my favorite reads on the subject... I never get tired of this story.

Joanne Walpole said...

I've always thought VK's Doc was absolutely brilliant. He made that film for me which is a big admission because Sam Elliott is possibly my favourite westerns actor and the ensemble cast was formidable. I wouldn't like to overlook Michael Biehn, Kurt Russell and even Jason Priestley who earned my attention in that film. Whoops, slightly off at a tangent there but I always start raving when someone mentions the film Tombstone. :-)


Jo - I love Tombestone too and Kilmer was great but I maintain Dennis Quaid was closer to the reality. Kurt Russel was an excellent Earp.

DAVID - A really good Earp book is Wyatt Earp the life and legend by CASEY TEFERTILLER

Charles Gramlich said...

Doc Holliday was always interesting to me. Far more than the Earps he hung out with.

Ray said...

And Jane Russell's breasts is what got 'The Outlaw' banned in the UK. Ages ago I meant to say how the poster is reminiscent of the covers of those hard boiled crime novels.
How could you forget 'Hour Of The Gun' with James Garner and Jason Robards?
'Doc' Holliday is one of those names - like Ben Thompson - you know who they are from a snippet of history but not who they were.