Like 1969’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 1993’s Tombstone is a movie that appeals to audiences inside and outside the Westerns fan base. Also like Butch and Sundance the primary reason is the amazing chemistry between the two leads, in this case, Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) and Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer). It doesn’t hurt that the picture also has a crackerjack script, more than a few great scenes, a busload of fantastic character actors at their best and a lot of solid slam-bang action.
So it’s great news that Tombstone is finally being given the blu-ray treatment. Except for one thing.
Movie fans in general and Tombstone fans in particular raved when the 2002 “Director’s Cut” edition of Tombstone was not only given the deluxe bells-and-whistles treatment—with improved sound and picture and a slew of extras—but also contained four minutes of additional footage.
The problem is, the blu-ray edition returns us to the earlier 130-minute length. This is a shame because the extra material in the film actually makes a difference. Among other things it shows us a couple of key moments in Doc Holliday’s private life. Kilmer’s Holliday may be the most important single element of the entire picture. Take Kilmer out of this film, and it would deflate by more than half.
In other words, this is what added footage ought to be and rarely is in new DVD releases. Anyone who has peeked at Kevin Jarre’s legendary script, or followed the history of the bumpy, troubled production, knows that where this picture is concerned, more is way better. Tombstone fans remain convinced that quite a bit of material is in locked vaults just begging to be reintegrated into the film, although it’s also understood that a lot of Jarre’s script never saw a Klieg light.
I suppose until such time as the powers-that-be decide to invest in a full-on reconstruction of this terrifically entertaining and beloved movie—one that involves the participation of key players, the studio and a chunk of crucial financing—we’ll have to be happy with what we get.