The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum
thevideovacuum

DOC (1971) ** ½

Hollywood has long held a fascination with Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Scores of movies have been made of their exploits. If you can’t already tell by the title, this one focuses more on Doc than Wyatt. It’s an interesting approach, but it ultimately doesn’t quite work.

Most of the film concentrates on the relationship between Doc (Stacy Keach) and his prostitute girlfriend Kate (Faye Dunaway). There are genuine sparks between the pair, and whenever they are front and center together, the flick is fun to watch. It’s when Wyatt Earp (Ghostbuster 2’s Harris Yulin) enters the picture that things begin to go sour, both for their relationship and the movie itself.

Since this is a ‘70s western, the filmmakers were out to do a little revisionist history. They portray Wyatt as a cold, calculating man full of pride and brimming with vengeance who may or not be using Doc for his own gain. Doc and Earp’s relationship is contentious at best and downright heated at worst. Heck, in some ways, Wyatt is almost like the villain of the piece. While I admire the fact that the filmmakers were trying to do something different, they pretty much shoot themselves in the foot by limiting the interaction between Doc and Wyatt.

When it comes time for the finale, the whole thing ends with a fizzle. The big showdown at the OK Corral should be a bombastic event that unites the two men. Instead, it just more or less happens because, well, it’s a Wyatt Earp movie. Even then, it doesn’t feel like an organic part of the story. It’s just shoehorned in there to appease western fans. I mean, one minute Doc and Wyatt are at each other’s throats and the next they’re fighting alongside one another. It just doesn’t ring true, even if it was inevitable.

Keach does a fine job as Doc, but it is Dunaway who steals the movie. She is simply stunning in this. She almost singlehandedly salvages the whole affair. She’s also sassy as hell. I liked the scene where Wyatt’s pious wife tries to make her go to church and she says, “You can make sure that when I’m on my knees, I won’t be praying.”

It’s Keach who gets the best line of the movie when he tells a gunfighter: “You can reach for it if you want to cowboy, but if you do you're gonna wind up with two assholes, and one of them is going to be right between your eyes!”

AKA: Doc Holliday.

Tags: d, western
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