Frontier Marshal


1h 11m 1939

Brief Synopsis

Earp agrees to become marshal and establish order in Tombstone in this very romanticized version of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral (e.g., Doc is killed by Curley before the actual battle and Earp must do the job alone).

Film Details

Also Known As
Wyatt Earp
Release Date
Jul 28, 1939
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Lone Pine, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the book Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal by Stuart N. Lake (New York, 1931).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 11m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,429ft (7 reels)

Synopsis

In the 1880s Western mining town of Tombstone, Ben Carter, owner of The Palace of Pleasure saloon, complains that his chief competitor, The Belle Union, has brought in Chicago saloon girls to take away his business. He gets Indian Charlie, one of his men, drunk, and Charlie in turn shoots up the place. When the town's marshal refuses to stop Charlie's rampage, Wyatt Earp, an ex-Army scout, steps forward and surprises everyone by beating Charlie to the draw. When offered the job of marshal, Earp refuses, until he is taken out on the mesa by Curly Bill and others in Carter's gang, and is beaten for being a "volunteer marshal." As the new marshal, Earp begins to clean up Tombstone, making an enemy of dance hall girl, Jerry, whom he catches cheating at poker. Gunslinger Doc Holliday arrives to defend Jerry's "honor," goading Earp to draw. When Holliday has a coughing attack, however, Earp comes to his defense, stopping Dan Blackmore, another gambler, from shooting him. Earp and Holliday become friends, much to Jerry's chagrin. Sarah Allen, Holliday's old fiancée, finds him in Tombstone after searching for him for two years. Holliday, a former physician, orders her to leave, telling her that he is not the man she knew in Illinois. Later, Eddie Foy, celebrated song and dance man, arrives in town to appear at The Belle Union. Just before he is about to perform, he is kidnapped by Buck Newton and forced to play at The Place of Pleasure instead. Earp and Holliday rescue Foy, with Holliday killing Newton. Later, drunk and out of control, Holliday is knocked unconscious by Earp, who takes him back to his room and finds a picture of Sarah in Holliday's wallet. Earp goes to Sarah, telling her not to leave, that Holliday does care about her and will die if she leaves. Jerry, learning that Earp will be riding shotgun on the next gold shipment, goes to Carter to help him and his gang hold up the stage and kill Earp. The hold-up is foiled, however, as Earp is joined on the stage by Holliday, who was leaving Tombstone to get away from Sarah. During the ensuing confrontation, Carter is killed and Holliday is wounded. Earp orders The Place of Pleasure closed, resulting in a gunfight. Earp escapes unhurt, but Pablo, a young Mexican boy, is accidentally shot. The town doctor is gone, so Holliday, with Sarah's assistance, is forced to operate and saves the boy's life. Leaving the bar, Holliday is ambushed and killed by Curly Bill and his men. Earp meets the gang at the O. K. Corral, killing all but Curly Bill, who escapes into town. When Curly Bill tries to shoot Earp in the back, Jerry kills him with Holliday's gun. Sarah decides to stay in the cleaned-up Tombstone, while Jerry chooses to leave. Before departing, however, Jerry stops at Holliday's tombstone, and reads its simple but poignant epitaph.

Film Details

Also Known As
Wyatt Earp
Release Date
Jul 28, 1939
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Lone Pine, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the book Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal by Stuart N. Lake (New York, 1931).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 11m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,429ft (7 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

The actor, 'Stevens, Charles' , who plays a drunken Indian, repeats the role in directory 'Ford, John' 's remake, My Darling Clementine (1946).

Notes

The working title for the film was Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal. According to information found in the Twentieth Century-Fox Legal Records at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, this title change was made due to legal threats by Josephine Earp, Wyatt Earp's widow, who threatened to sue the studio because of her dissatisfaction with the script for this film. In both the onscreen credits and the CBCS, Cesar Romero's character is identified as Doc "Halliday", not "Holliday" as he is referred to in the film. Holliday was the actual name of the historical character. For more information about Holliday, please consult the entry for the 1941 Universal film Badlands of Dakota. Numerous contemporary reviews cite Charles Stevens' role as "Indian Joe," though it is "Indian Charlie" in the film. The Film Daily review lists Robert Bischoff, not Fred Allen as the film editor. Allen, however, is credited onscreen as well as in other contemporary sources. Story material in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Script Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library indicates that Claire Trevor, Kay Francis, Ann Sothern, Frances Farmer, and Dorothy Lamour were all considered for the role of "Jerry," and that Bruce Cabot was considered for the role of "Curly Bill." Location filming was done in Lone Pine, California in early June 1939 for four days. While the film presents The Epitaph as the first newpaper published in Tombstone, The Nugget actually began publication one year earlier, in 1879. In 1934, Fox produced a film with the same title featuring a character based on Earp.