Watch List: Tombstone, a love note to nostalgia and Doc Holliday

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*As always, a few spoilers below* I was raised on good stories. Whether stories in the forms of novels or movies, stories are what made up my childhood. My mother use to make up fairy tales on the spot every night before I went to bed, with me as the main character overcoming all obstacles. My uncle and I always use to run his Star Wars dvds on tv and we’d sit and marathon the original trilogy for hours on end with buckets of popcorn. (sidenote: Star Wars will always and forever remain my favorite fictional world of all time)

However, it’s Tombstone that holds a wonderful place in my heart. My father and I have a pretty solid relationship. He’s a pretty cool dude and he has even cooler film taste. The guy loves westerns. I think I’ve seen every single classic western movie. That’s how my father and I bonded, he would ramble about his favorite movies and we’d sit and watch them with a side of pizza. Westerns (and Star Wars) became the epitome of my childhood. But there was one western that ruled them all, and that Western was Tombstone.

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For me, there is absolutely no film that conquers Tombstone. This movie has everything, drama, heart-stopping action, romance, comedy, and a whole lot of heart.

My favorite part about Tombstone is the love story. Tombstone has the best love story of all time. No, not the love story between Josephine and Wyatt Earp (though that loveline is wonderful), I’m talking about the familial love between the Earp brothers and the infamous Doc Holliday. These four have such a soul-deep bond that they’d put their lives down for each other. You just don’t mess with them. They’re badass, and when you mess with one of them, you’re messing with all of them. Which leads me to my favorite character in Tombstone, and perhaps of all time, Doc Holliday.

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Val Kilmer was Doc Holliday. Kilmer bought Holliday to living, breathing life. I have never been as enraptured in a character as I was with Doc Holliday. His vulnerability tore at me, his baddass nonchalant, don’t give a damn attitude had me laughing in delight, yet it was his protectiveness, his fierce loyalty to his few friends that made him a childhood hero of mine.

Holliday was a binge drinking gambler who constantly hustled people out of their money and laughed in their faces about it. He just had nothing to lose…until he reunites with his good friends, the Earp Brothers. Holliday is constantly sweating and throughout the film, he grows paler and paler. We later find out Holliday is slowly dying from Tuberculosis. Which makes him even more dangerous. A man dying has nothing to fear.

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When a group of cowboys start threatening his friends, Doc Holliday steps in and induces fear in all of them. Everyone knows Doc Holliday is the best gunman in the country. He’s quick, with no remorse. The Earp Brothers were incredibly lucky to have Holliday on their side. Not just for his gun-toting abilities and infamous reputation, but because of his devotion to those he actually cares for.

In an incredibly intense scene, Holliday is coughing uncontrollably after a showdown between him and some outlaw cowboys. He’s been on a “reckoning” ride with Wyatt Earp, they’ve been hunting down and killing the cowboys that killed Morgan Earp. Holliday is visibly getting worse every second which prompts someone to ask him why he’s putting himself through all of this when he doesn’t have to.

Jack: “Doc, you oughta be in bed, what the hell you doin this for anyway?”

Holliday: “Wyatt Earp is my friend.”

Jack: “Hell, I got lots of friends.”

Holliday: “I don’t.”

This scene speaks volumes. Holliday is a con man. He’s killed countless of people. He’s either feared or looked down upon, sometimes both. But Wyatt Earp has treated him with nothing but respect and befriended him. Holliday doesn’t have many friends, but the ones he does have, you best believe he’s going to hold it down for them. If that means standing with his friends in gun fights, such as the notorious O.K. Corral fight, then he damn well will be there next to his friends ready to take you on.

In fact, throughout the whole movie nothing seems to phase Holliday. When someone threatens him, he laughs in their face. When someone threatens his friends, he palms his gun, ready to defend. Heck, one time a gun goes off making the Earp brothers, and me, jump in surprise yet Holliday doesn’t even flinch. The dude is just a badass. However, there is one, and only one time, you see Holliday awash with fear and worry. And it’s the scene where his friend Wyatt Earp goes crazy with grief over losing his brother and risks his life. Holliday’s fear, worry, and concern for his friend really hits you where it hurts.

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Doc Holliday is my favorite character ever written. I will never get over Val Kilmer’s incredible performance.

My dad’s an old school man. He’s taught me a lot of  lessons. Always hold your head up. Look people in the eye when you speak to them. Always say please and thank you. Have a firm handshake. Treat people with respect. Be a loyal person to those you love and care for. Be a kind and good friend. And Tombstone was one of his greatest lessons that he ever showed me. This is a film about friendship and family. Standing with them and defending them. Staying true to who you are and to those who love you.

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If you haven’t seem Tombstone, you should get on it. Tombstone is handsdown my favorite film. You’ll laugh, you might shed a tear or two, and you sure as heck will value your friends that much more.

“I’m your huckleberry.”

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