Somewhat belated but here’s our first completely edited video! It was really exciting putting this together and we really learned a lot about video production. It’s probably a little rough at the edges but we’re just getting started. Enjoy! 😁
Our trip to Tombstone was too short but we made the most of it while we were there and actually managed to take a break from the fast pace of LA- believe it or not, as COVID restrictions lift, things are beginning to pick up again and that means more work for us. 😉 We have some plans for later this year and going into 2022 that will involve Tombstone and the American Southwest and while we’re not quite ready to divulge details, we will say that it will be exciting. 🙂
For many years we used to attend a Cowboy Poetry festival that was held at Melody Ranch in Newhall, California. Melody Ranch was/is a movie ranch where a lot of Western TV series and movies were made (we worked on a few these ourselves) and it has quite a bit of history. 🙂 You may recognize it from one of the more recent productions, Deadwood. Here’s a few pictures: 🙂
As we’re leaving No. 11 today, the movie Tombstone hasn’t been far from our thoughts so in honor of the movie, we thought we’d re-post our take on some of the costuming aspects of the movie, so enjoy!
On a costuming level, the movie Tombstone never fails to excite interest and invariably, the question will arise: “How historically accurate are the costumes?” The short answer is “Somewhat…” Yes, much of the costuming is fairly accurate although one may quibble on the specific details. One of my favorites is the much-maligned Johnny Behan:
Behan’s is wearing a well-tailored sack suit proper for someone in his position. Unlike the usual image of the scruffy frontier marshal or sheriff, Behan was more of a politician and his primary job was collecting enough tax revenue to keep the Cochise County government financially afloat. The actual work of dealing with criminals was tasked to several deputies.
That said, let’s take a look at the central focus of the movie, Wyatt Earp:
This is the iconic Wyatt Earp outfit, one that has been widely imitated over the years by those recreating the Earp persona, usually for reenactments of the gunfight at the OK Corral. Now, as for historical accuracy, the coat itself is wrong. There were no ankle-length frock coats. Anything this long would be some sort of greatcoat. The frock coat of the later 19th Century tended to come down to just above the knee.
OK, so it rates a boo and a hiss…or does it? Bear in mind that this is a movie and a movie’s primary goal it to tell a story. Costuming supports this story-telling process and it’s often subject to conscious design changes in order to increase the dramatic effect. In this case, it’s pretty successful, judging from how much it’s imitated and let’s face it, it does increase the dramatic effect, especially when done in black (both the length and color choice were deliberate choices made the director). The effects of black color, coat length, and pictures of it flapping open in the breeze all suggest a superhero figure. So in the end, it’s all about telling a story.
Now just for a little equal time, here’s the Earps and Doc Holliday off to the OK Corral gunfight in the movie Wyatt Earp:
Compared to the top picture from Tombstone, the look in the above picture from Wyatt Earp is bit more gritty and less heroic (in fact, the actual gunfight scene itself is a bit anticlimactic in the movie). One is not more “correct” than the other, both go for a specific dramatic effect. Whether one is more effective than the other is subjective, in the eye of the viewer (we have our favorite, too).
So Gentle Readers, where does this leave us? Well, it goes to show that one must be mindful of the historically correct while at the same time being mindful that a movie’s objective differs from simply a recitation of historical events in that it also seeks to entertain. As a rule, costume designers go to great lengths to school themselves on what is historically appropriate for the period being depicted and they know exactly where departures are made.
If one thinks that this is a recent development, it is not. A good example of this in an earlier era is from the movie Gone with the Wind which was released in 1939. in which the costuming of the background and supporting characters is historically correct but the costumes for the lead actors were not. In closing, we view movies with an open mind and believe that costuming for film is an art form all itself and we like that.