Today we return briefly to Tombstone through the medium of television and specifically the episode of the original Star Trek television series entitled “Spectre of the Gun.” First aired on October 25, 1968, the episode centered on the inhabitants of planet Theta Kiokis II using an episode out of earth history, the gunfight at the OK Corral, as a means of punishing Captain Kirk for attempting to establish contact with the Melkotians in spite of being warned away by them.
The sets are somewhat surreal with incomplete walls, clocks and pictures that hand in mid-air, etc. because the Melkotians are using Kirk’s thoughts as the basis for Tombstone and the gunfight to recreate them as an illusion. The premise is a cleaver one and one can see it reflective of the spirit of the late 1960s with references to Man’s tendencies towards violence and killing, often for little reason.
In terms of props and costumes, this was no doubt easy to put together since Paramount Studios still had a large collection of wardrobe and props suitable for Westerns (after all, this was the tail end of the heyday of the television Western). Also what is interesting is that while this was filmed on a soundstage, they actually have a live horse or two as background- nice touch that you probably would not see if it were filmed today.
Turning to the costumes, it’s pretty much television B-Western stuff but in context of this being a Star Trek episode, it works. Here are some shots of Ensign Chekhov with Sylvia, the love interest:
We first meet her in a saloon girl style dress that’s right out of B-Western Central Casting. Unfortunately, I could not get a good screen shot of the whole dress but it’s short and the color is appropriately bright and gaudy.
Here we see Sylvia in something more demure, a generic bustle dress. Once again, I was unable to secure a screen shot but it’s a pretty generic B-Western look for the 1870s or 80s. Like much of this costuming of this era, the actresses did not wear any period undergarments (like say, a corset) and it’s evident in this picture. The hat appears to be something from the 1930s or 1950s that’s been reconditioned.
Next we have the Enterprise landing party. No surprises here and they’re all wearing the stereotypical buscadero rigs for their guns, a look that was invented for Hollywood in the early 1920s. The web belt on Spock is interesting though- no doubt they all were simply dug out of the prop room with little thought except that they fit.
Now let’s take a look at some of the other characters:
And of course no gunfight at the OK Corral is complete without:
And we can’t forget:
Kind of a contrast to this: 🙂
And for a few more shots:
The above shot of Morgan Earp, framed by lightning is very effective in revealing his character, a manic individual who is bent on a gunfight no matter what.
From a costume perspective there’s not a lot going on here but as a Star Trek episode, it was imaginative and fresh for the time. In some respects it hits on themes that are still relevant in later film versions of the Gunfight at the OK Corral and the events leading up to it.