Every Western About the infamous Wyatt Earp, Ranked


Easily among the most famous “cowboys” to ever live, the real-life Wyatt Earp was a bit far off from his cinematic counterparts. He truly was a rough-and-tough lawman that lived up to the reputation of his name, though. And while he was undoubtedly there at the thirty-second-long Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, his brother Virgil was actually more of the head in that regard. Of course, there’s also a third brother named Morgan, but Wyatt is by far the most famous.

And within the realm of film, he’s also among the most famous characters to ever fall within the western genre. He’s arguably the single most renowned, in fact, as far as general fan appeal and name recognition goes. And there’s a reason for that, as will be shown here with every western about Wyatt Earp, ranked.



10 Wyatt Earp (1994)

Wyatt Earp
Warner Bros.

Although this features some of the most well-known actors out of any film featured on this list, not even the likes of Kevin Costner, Dennis Quaid, and Gene Hackman could save Wyatt Earp (1994) from its critical and commercial disasters. You know: $60 million garnered on a budget of $63 million in tandem with a “rotten” score of 31% on critical consensus website Rotten Tomatoes.

And although that’s pretty abysmal in the grand scheme of things, that very well might not be the worst review score you’ll read about today. In other words: if you’re a fan of the western genre in general and are looking for a slightly more contemporary take on the story of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, then Wyatt Earp could very well be worth your time. Aside from that, though, it’s best to move onto the next.

Related: Tombstone or Wyatt Earp: Which Was the Better ’90s Western?

9 Doc (1971)

United Artists

It holds a mediocre 50% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with a similar audience score of 49%. But it’s worth shining light on as the only film on the list to focus as a main character on Doc Holliday, a prominent member of Wyatt Earp’s story of the O.K. Corral and beyond. But it’s also relevant because of the name value held by its two stars.

Although the popularity of Stacy Keach would come after the release of Doc (1971), it’s still a fun revisit for fans of the famous actor. And then, there’s Faye Dunaway. She had already established a massive name for herself in the industry thanks to films like Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and The Thomas Crown Affair (1968). And although the film as a whole was nothing to write home about, it does land here at number ten.

8 Frontier Marshal (1934)

Frontier Marshal
Fox Film

There will undoubtedly be entries on this list that will only be familiar to more hardcore (or antiquated, frankly) fans of the western genre, or even the film medium itself. Frontier Marshal (1934) is a great example of that as the oldest film on the list. It was adapted from Stuart N. Lake’s biography of the outlaw at hand, titled Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal.

There isn’t a whole lot worth writing home about here from a qualitative perspective, but it was a solid project nonetheless. It’s mostly recognized by name, however, thanks to the next entry on the list. But it’s also worth noting that the aforementioned biography along with each adaptation — yes, this is just the first — are largely fictionalized. That shouldn’t be too surprising, though.

7 Frontier Marshal (1939)

Frontier Marshal
20th Century Fox

Going right into the second adaptation of Lake’s biography — there isn’t much known about the critical reception or box office success of either of these films, not even this the slightly more recent version of Frontier Marshal (1939). Both films are perhaps the most prominent in a contemporary landscape due to their inspiration of a remake by a particular, famous director of the western genre. But, more on that later.

This could very well be the most well-known film of these first three entries on the list, but even then, it’s pretty much unheard of from a modern perspective. It ultimately lands here at number two.

6 Tombstone, the Town Too Tough to Die (1942)

Tombstone, the Town Too Tough To Die
Paramount Pictures

Alright — this is the final instance of a relatively unfamiliar title appearing on the list. But the cast and crew behind the project of this retelling of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral hold a bit more name value than the actual film itself. Most prominent was Richard Dix, who played Wyatt Earp.

But as was the case with the last two films on the list, Tombstone, the Town Too Tough to Die (1942) doesn’t have much information out there with regard to its overall success. It’s also difficult to find a version of it online, but it’s worth noting nonetheless.

5 Hour of the Gun (1967)

Hour of the Gun
United Artists

Directed by John Sturges — an absolute powerhouse of western cinemaHour of the Gun (1967) is definitely revered from a modern perspective for more hardcore fans of the genre. But its general popularity as far as “classic westerns” go shouldn’t be the biggest story hereof. Its cast performed to a brilliant degree across the board.

But most notable was of course James Garner, who portrayed the outlaw at hand. And, fun fact: it also features a minor performance from Jon Voight, in the second acting effort of his career. But the original retelling of Earp’s story by this very director is what audiences should truly home in on when binge-watching all of these films.

4 Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
Paramount Pictures

With Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), director John Sturges wasn’t just back at it again with another western, but also another project that revolves entirely around Wyatt Earp. These two entries truly could go either way when determining the one of higher quality, and aptly fall back-to-back on this list. But this holds a decent bit of name value from a contemporary perspective. And that’s largely because the titular shootout was the title given by historians with regard to the actual event with the real-life outlaws.

But the film even picked up a couple nominations at the Academy Awards — including one for Best Film Editing. This truly shined through in the overall product, resulting in one of the more seamless projects on the entire list with regard to general pacing. And as one of the more technical elements, that’s probably enough about continuity editing. But there’s so much more worth writing home about here, it’s best to check it out for yourself.

3 Wichita (1955)

Allied Artists

This is still less popular than several of the other titles on the list, but Wichita (1955) is also far more relevant. It was filmed with CinemaScope, firstly, and was also made by highly touted French filmmaker Jacques Tourneur. And perhaps most prominent is the fact that, alongside Joel McRea as Wyatt Earp, the film also stars Vera Miles.

For those who aren’t familiar, Miles played Lila Crane in Psycho (1960), directed by Alfred Hitchcock. And although the project at hand came out before that particular horror joint, Wichita did help kickstart her career in many respects. And overall, the project was highly revered by fans and critics alike. It ultimately lands here at number three.

2 Tombstone (1993)

Buena Vista Pictures

This is likely the single most iconic film on the list, which makes sense, as Tombstone (1993) surely had a star-studded cast that went down as a highlight of the film. Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp, Sam Elliott and Bill Paxton as his brothers Virgil and Morgan, respectively, along with Val Kilmer in a fan-favorite role as Doc Holliday — all of these stars propelled the product to heights it wouldn’t have reached with another cast. Kilmer shined especially brightly, as plenty of you may recall, even though Doc was almost portrayed by Willem Dafoe. That would’ve been interesting.

And although many fans expected this to come out on top, this spot at number two should instead shine light on the caliber of the number one pick. Of course, all that said, there’s still plenty left to write home about regarding Tombstone. It has a sleek, contemporary style as far as the western genre is concerned, and should without a doubt entertain from start to finish.

1 My Darling Clementine (1946)

Henry Fonda in My Darling Clementine
20th Century Fox

From a modern perspective, this is undoubtedly a western of prominence despite its age. It’s another adaptation of the aforementioned biography Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal that was directed by a juggernaut of the genre. And with regard to My Darling Clementine (1946), the filmmaker at hand was of course John Ford.

The film was widely revered upon release, and still currently holds a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Of course, a well-written script of this famous story would undoubtedly propel any project of this caliber to new heights. But the cast is worth writing home about, too: Ford and Henry Fonda were already a proven match made in heaven, as this was their fifth of eight total collaborations. But the film also featured the likes of Linda Darnell and Walter Brennan, among many prominent others. If you haven’t checked it out, just know that it’s the definitive film out of all that focus on Wyatt Earp.

Related: Underrated Westerns You Should Watch

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