No Escape from Kurt Russell: Tombstone

Siskoid Cinema presents... No Escape from Kurt Russell, the show that explores the filmography of one of American cinema's best leading men and tries to get a handle on his mystique. Why is it we'll watch anything so long as Kurt Russell,s name is attached to the project? On its inaugural episode, Siskoid and Chris Franklin discuss 1993's Tombstone. A western in the 90s?! The umpteenth retelling of the gunfight at the OK Coral?! Yeah, but Kurt Russell is in it. And hell's comin' with him!

Listen to the episode below, or subscribe to FW Team-Up on Apple or Spotify!

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Bonus clips: "Tombstone" by George P. Cosmatos, starring Kurt Russell and Powers Booth; and "Tombstone Theme" by Bruce Broughton.

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15 responses to “No Escape from Kurt Russell: Tombstone

  1. I’m five minutes in, but I already have things to say.

    1. I was so excited to see this on my podcast her feed that one of my daughters asked what I had gasped about.
    2. If it couldn’t be me, I’m glad it was Chris.
    3. The laudanum crack was hilarious.
    4. I don’t remember ever seeing or hearing the trailer before. This movie is so much better and so much richer as a story than that trailer would lead its viewer to believe!

    I have to go to work now, but I’ll see you soon…I’ll see you soon!

  2. What makes Kurt Russell so appealing?
    He’s got the classic tough Guy persona of Charles Bronson, the coolness of Steve McQueen, the quiet confidence of James Coburn, and the charisma of Harrison Ford. He somehow manages to be both an everyman and a badass action hero. Equally capable of comedy and action. He’s all that and more. Plus his track record of appearing in awesome movies helps.

  3. The thing with huge cast list movies like Tombtone, they can either be really really good or really really bad.

    Kurt Russell has an extremely varied catalogue. Comedy, drama, western, action, sci-fi. He was also a kid actor who made the successful transition to adult actor. The Jungle Kid on an episode of “Gilligan’s Island”, for pete’s sake! This will be an interesting and fun podcast.

  4. Did Tombstone really have Peter Gabriel’s “The Rhythm of the Heat” as the background music on the trailer?!?!? That’s an odd choice.

    Russell, in a lot of his performances, gives a film exactly what it needs, and like Chris pointed out with Tombstone, it sometimes means letting other actors chew the scenery while he stays the steady hand. And it makes the film so much more memorable because of it.

    It’s a classic film as far as I’m concerned, and while it isn’t flawless, it’s a solid piece of Kurt Russell’s filmography and Im glad you started with it, because it’s such a fun movie to indulge yourself with on a lazy afternoon.

    Off-topic: I feel like this is my 4th or 5th FW poscast in a row where Chris Franklin is the cohost, and now I’m going to have to start listening to the JLUCast and continue the Franklin-aissance.

  5. Kurt Russell-cast is an interesting angle. Russell’s an odd case where he’s definitely a long serving, inter-generational movie star, but he’s never been especially bankable at the box office. He’s kind of a beloved jobber? It took him eight years, mostly in the Disney mines, to finally get a starring role… as The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. And then another two years to play straight man to a monkey in The Barefoot Executive, then Now You See Him, Now You Don’t the following year. He doesn’t get a TV show until twelve years into his career, and it gets cancelled six episodes in seven unaired episodes, going right back to Disney slop with The Strongest Man in the World. Then a failed pilot turned movie of the week before finally getting positive notice in a serious role, another TV movie on the Charles Whitman spree killing. Fourteen years in, Russell finally gets a string of successful TV westerns and a single season of the follow-up TV series The Quest. It isn’t until 1979, nearly twenty years into his career, that he finally gets enough eyes on him to make a star turn in Elvis (still on TV.) Then Used Cars flopped, but Escape from New York was a hit with an iconic anti-hero role that finally established Russell in year 19, only for the notorious failure of The Thing to put him right back on thin ice. And that’s pretty much the rest of his career. A lot of supporting and third lead work, punctuated by the occasional hit, soon followed a another dud. The ’90s were his only period of sustained success, but even then people scratched their heads as to why Sylvester Stallone would share a billing with him, or get mad that they’d been bait & switched on what they thought was a Steven Seagal picture. It’s like, who doesn’t love Kurt Russell, but also, who will actually make a point of lining up for every one of his movies on opening (or often any) day? In JLA terms, he’s what, a Green Arrow? Does that make Goldie Hawn Black Canary? Is that more of an Aquaman/Mera thing?

    Last week was rough. I recorded a podcast doing my best Doc Holliday in his deathbed, and I took a lot of power naps in my car during lunch breaks. I have to confess that I wasn’t entirely conscious for all of this episode, but I think I caught the gist of it. I’m not confident that I can say different of Tombstone itself. Maybe once all the way through with the guys in the ’90s? I really like what I’ve seen, and it’s an awesome cast, but I was never motivated to revisit/complete it. I’d forgotten that the Powers Boothe “Well… bye” gif was from here rather than Deadwood. Now that, I need to revisit. Never forget the other Kurt Russell / Kevin Costner match-up, 3000 Miles to Graceland! If you thought this was a bad loss for Costner, imagine him trying to Elvis at the level of the first man to serve his (posthumous) biography.

    There’s a video of Michael Biehn circulating where he emphatically states that Tombstone was directed by committee, when the first month’s footage by Kevin Jarre was thrown out after his firing. George Cosmatos was still the director, but it was past the last minute, and he was mostly concerned with the visuals. It seems that Russell and Kilmer bonded on the set, and that they seemed to have a lot of input on their scenes, plus there were a lot of conflicts with Cosmatos over his abusive presence on set. But still, Cosmatos seems to be acknowledged as the overall director.

    Anyway, I like Russell a lot and have seen plenty of his movies, but not so passionately that I won’t skip most or bail on Monarch: Legacy of Monsters after three episodes. Here’s my top 5:

    Honorable Mentions: Sky High, Overboard, The Fox and the Hound, Silkwood, Stargate

    5) Death Proof: The first half is punishing, but it’s earned in the second. Over the years, I don’t feel as bad for Rose McGowan’s character. Wild that we’re very much seeing a Russell-type likable character on screen that is nonetheless a complete scumbag you root for dying badly in the end.

    4) Vanilla Sky: Just a supporting role, but you really feel for his father figure psychiatrist, certainly more than the disfigured delusional Scientologist.

    3) Backdraft: Less for the role, one of his many stiffs, and more for the overall film.

    2) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Support again, but another opportunity to take your innate affection for Russell and use it against you with a surgical precision.

    1) Big Trouble in Little China: One of my favorite of all the movies, and one of the very few in which I find no fault whatsoever.

    Hey, I got through the whole episode playing while I commented! There’s hope for Tombstone yet!

    1. Some things age like fine wine. While I don’t give, and never have given, a jot about box office, the fact that a movie like The Thing was a box office failure proves my point. No matter what he’s in, Kurt Russell brings value, HE’S watchable. At least, that’s what this subshow is aiming to prove.

      1. I think the important thing is that when I google “Kurt Russell tattoo,” I get a really nice selection of high quality inks of the man. If I do the same with Steven Seagal, it’s mostly mocking “Steven Seagulls.”

        As for the sign-off, I don’t see any need to look further than Jack Burton. And Ol’ Jack always says… what the hell? We really shook the pillars of heaven, didn’t we, Wang? Siskoid, are you ready for the next Kurt Russell film? “I was born ready.”

  6. It’s been two months, and I’ve listened to this podcast three times trying to think of everything I wanted to say about it. Is it too obvious to say I enjoyed the discussion? I know this is probably too late to be read on air, but I want to tell you both anyway.

    1. That trailer is really misleading. The film had themes of friendship, mortality, courage, loyalty, duty, and justice. The trailer makes Tombstone sound like a much simpler film.

    2. This may be the closest Kurt Russell came to playing Batman. It’s only natural that everyone else should be more colorful and have more lines.

    3. The scene where Wyatt kills Curly Bill is not singular in history. I think the Medal of Honor was the U.S. military’s only medal for valor for a while. Once other, lesser medals came along, the standard for a Medal of Honor became crazy high. I haven’t read of the World War I citations, but the ones from World War II onward include some verified stories so unbelievable you couldn’t put them on screen, and the supporting stories by the eyewitnesses and recipients are even better. One doctor in World War II kicked the rifle out of a Japanese soldier’s hands and used it to defend his patients. One pinned down scout in Korea heard an audible voice telling him to move out from behind the rock (he lived and saved his unit). An NCO in Vietnam simultaneously carried multiple wounded soldiers out of the jungle while continuing to fight the enemy. (To be fair, that guy was built like Charlie-27.). Most Medals of Honor are awarded posthumously for obvious reasons, but the craziest ones are the ones where they survived.

    4. The Costner film wasn’t bad, and Quaid’s Holliday was also interesting. I appreciated that it gave more of Wyatt’s background. I know you weren’t really denigrating it. I just wanted to speak in its defense anyway.

    5. I just loved all the performances and all the characters — or hated them, whichever way the movie makers intended. Even bit parts like Priestley’s or Turkey Creek Jack Johnson and Texas Jack (great names!) were memorable. They may have had three lines and four minutes of screen time, but you felt like you knew them.

    6. “I was only ever mixed up in one shootin'” — yeah, but you had the will to fight, and kill if necessary, and everybody looked at you and knew it. And that was the intimidation ability that Siskoid talked about.

    7. I’ve read (but who knows if it’s true) that “This is funny” really were Doc’s last words. It’s believed that he was reflecting on the fact that he was dying bootless in bed, when he had left Georgia with his tuberculosis diagnosis to die in action on his feet.

    That’s it. I’m sure I could more about this fine film. Call me when you get to…heck, almost anything that isn’t already spoken for.

    1. You’re right. The next episode is already in the can and comes out Tuesday, but I still wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your in-depth comments. So even if something isn’t read on air, is on an older episode, etc., we, the podcasters, still read them!

      1. Thank you very much, Siskoid! Glad to hear it. I’ll miss hearing your response (because I was slow), but maybe someday over a beverage. Keep up the great work, my friend.

  7. Well, since I recently found out about this — here’s my even-later-than-Captain-Entropy set of comments.

    Related to the observation that part of this movie’s collection of themes is “how to be a man”, I’d like to highlight the short exchange illuminating a key aspect of the relationship between Doc & Wyatt:

    Doc Holliday: “Wyatt Earp is my friend.”
    Turkey Creek Jack Johnson: “Hell, I got lots of friends.”
    Doc Holliday: “I don’t.”

    This short exchange really resonated with me and my father. For him, it was an observation and affirmation that sometimes relationships need not be as complicated as we make them out to be — especially things like friendship. For me, it summed up the often noble yet potentially destructive concept of the Filipino Barkada. Misunderstood in the U.S. as being in a gang, it has been translated to mean “a group of close friends”. However, the Tagalog word for friend is “kaibigan”, and the closeness of a friendship in American English varies with the people using that precious word.

    Traditionally, a Barkada is a group of fiercely loyal friends, perhaps even to the point of breaking laws, and maybe even to the point of death. Such a word may be rare in the languages of the world, but clearly the concept itself is not alien to the shores of the U.S. of A.

    It is in this light that I view that Tombstone showdown, Wyatt’s decision to go, Wyatt’s pursuit of vengeance (or a reckoning), and Doc’s dogged support of his friend. And with it the hope that have the good fortune to never be called on to the same, and the hope that I have courage to answer in like manner if ever that call comes.


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