Sunday, December 22, 2013

Tombstone: the Shetterly cut of the director's cut, aka the Doc cut

Tombstone is one of my favorite movies, despite its many flaws. As a Christmas present for two people who love it as much as I do, I'm doing a simple edit of the director's cut. For anyone who wants to do something similar, here's what I advise:

1. Cut the opening scenes, the newsreel, the cowboys in Mexico, and the Earps getting off the train in Tucson, so the movie starts with the camera panning up to Doc. (Time deleted: a little over ten minutes.)

2. In the scene where Wyatt meets Josie in the woods, cut just after the shot in which Wyatt says, "Yeah, I'm an oak, all right" to the scene that opens with Mattie drinking laudanum. I'm especially proud of this cut. It eliminates bits where Dana Delany really needed a director who would've helped her sound less like a conventional woman of the 1990s and more like an unconventional woman of the 1880s, and it heightens the Wyatt-Josie-Mattie storyline. (Time deleted: four minutes, but for some of us, it feels like hours.)

3. Cut from Doc's death to the credits. Amusingly to me, this cut deletes George P. Cosmatos's director's credit, which, given the troubled history of the movie, may be appropriate. (Time deleted: not quite three minutes of saccharine romance and boring voiceover about what happened to some of the characters after the story was over. Really, when you get to the end of a story, stop.)

I used the director's cut because it has a couple of useful scenes that were cut from the theatrical version, including Doc's farewell to Kate. So the Shetterly cut gives you more plot, more Doc, less Josie, and less dawdling. It loses one action scene, the opening scene that's gratuitous, unoriginal, not true to history, and arguably racist in that it makes the Mexican police look incompetent. Since the Shetterly cut gets rid of more time without action, I'd like to think the most avid action fan would be comfortable with the trade.

Length of director's cut: 134 minutes
Length of theatrical cut: 130 minutes
Length of Shetterly cut: 116 minutes