5 August 2012 | CoastalCruiser
Two Surprises in this telling of the Wyatt Earp Myth
I came into this movie with low expectations, and that is exactly what I would recommend to anyone viewing 'I Married Wyatt Earp'. Temper your expectations, and be prepared for some nice surprises.
You must know that this is a made-for-TV-movie, and thus is shot in a made-for-TV-movie frame (no Panavision here), and makes use of a made-for-TV-movie musical score. And, it stars Marie Osmond. But having said all that I was quite delighted to find the film has a fair amount if gravitas, and worth recommending.
In fact this version of story of Wyatt Earp might be a good entrée for men wishing to entice a wife or girlfriend to sit through a Western. There's something for both sexes here. Marie Osmond's version of performer Josie Marcus, who goes on to marry Wyatt Earp, is that of a strong woman. But not the I-can-karate-chop-your-head-off-even-though-I'm-half-your-weight strong woman of today's Hollywood. No, she's got moxy, and she's not afraid to grab the reigns of a team of horses or pick up a rifle to hold the bad guys at bay... even though she knows nothing of either. For the men there are a number of tense moments of drama between the good guys and the bad guys, not only with firearms but with up close and personal stare down confrontations that rank as some of the best I've seen in all the Earp movies (I' can't believe I'm actually saying this).
In terms of how accurate this movie was in portraying the actual events, I must confess that I have given up on that game. In going through the many Earp films I came to realize that the Wyatt Earp myth is just that... myth. It's become folklore. Sure, there were the original events in 1881, but that story soon became a legend, which evolved into a myth. Every telling of that myth is drawing from the 'template' or 'archetype' of the original circumstances, and each of these tellings in my view stands on its own. I watch a Wyatt Earp movie now for both entertainment as well as the lessons brought out. And believe me, each telling has its own lessons. It's great that all the Wyatt Earp movies are not the same.
Whereas some Earp movies focus on, say, the relationship between Wyatt and Doc Holiday (My Darling Clementine, 1946 or Gunfight at the OK Corral, 1957), or the relationship between Earp and Ike Clanton (Hour of the Gun, 1967), I Married Wyatt Earp focuses on Josie Marcus as she reacts to the very unfamiliar environment she has placed herself in, and the very different kind of men pursuing her (along with a sub-theme based on the conflict between Earp and Sheriff Behan).
The rendering of events in this movie leaves no ambiguity regarding the Earps. They are cast as solid good guys with few if any shades of gray. We watch as Josie iterates from bad-guy Behan, whom she somehow does not recognize his slimy character for some time, to good-guy Wyatt, who must contain his desire for Josie due to his married status (like I said, pure good guy).
As we approach the climax of the movie Josie attempts to be a voice of reason to the testosterone-fired men who see a gunfight to the death as the only viable solution. I liked they way they played this here because you get to see both sides of the coin. The idea of a group of men standing a few yards apart and shooting led into each other is arguably an insane act. It should be stopped! But on the other hand we're dealing with evil personified here, and the only way to be sure these bedeviled men won't hunt you and your family down however long it takes it to place each and every one of the bastards 6' below the surface of the earth.
In other respects we get a standard issue telling of the story with the obligatory walk down Main St. to the OK Corral, and once there the shootout is staged more accurately than other renderings. The shootout itself is placed about 3/4 of the way through the film (unlike some other versions where it occurs at the very beginning or very ending of the movie).
The ending of I Married Wyatt Earp is different form any version I've seen. This is actually great because here is where the second surprise is delivered (the first being a much higher caliber film then anticipated); it's a very satisfying ending! See for yourself.