Tombstone makes the list of must-rewatch movies where almost every character on screen is someone you instantly recognize. For instance, you have John Locke, who played the villain from Titanic and Bad Santa, Val Kilmer, Charlton Heston, and of course, Jason Priestley. Regardless, the movie gained a 94% audience score from Rotten Tomatoes despite mixed reviews and grossed a staggering $56 million at the box office – a testament to the film’s resounding success and critical reception.
What is the movie Tombstone all about?
There have been many television shows and movies about the Old West icon Wyatt Earp alongside his brothers, but there are admittedly a few that are even on par with this Kurt Russell-led film. For over three decades, Tombstone has remained one of the most well-known westerns because of its intense gun battles, classic one-liners, and timeless storyline.
Released in 1993 during Christmas day, the film revisits the true-to-life story of a 30-second gunfight that took place in 1881 along the streets of Tombstone, Ariz. This gunfight involved a conflict between the Earp brothers against the McLaurys and Clantons.
It starts with the Earp brothers being retired lawmen, only looking to spend the rest of their time relaxing while making some money in a gambling-drinking establishment. However, the plot starts when a group of villains, the Cowboys, starts trouble. The Earp brothers initially made it clear that they wanted to stay away from it and not be involved. But as trouble keeps brewing and more chaos arises, they eventually come to a decision to do the right thing and finally fight against the Cowboys, with nothing short of vengeance.
The movie doesn’t hold back from its violent themes, depicting unapologetic displays of gun shooting, gushing blood, and killing, as well as some profanities, drugs, alcohol, and mild sexual scenarios. But besides the apparent bloodshed, the movie is also admired for its historical accuracy, as well as for portraying the friendship between Holliday (Val Kilmer) and Earp (Kurt Russell).
Jason Priestley as Billy Breakenridge
Tombstone is packed with quite a lot of well-known actors that it’s hard not to recognize anyone once they appear on your screen. Apart from the standout main characters, the audience has also felt a deep appreciation for the supporting roles, which, in this case, includes Billy Breakenridge.
Played by Jason Priestly, William Milton “Billy” Breakenridge is mostly known for being among the most modest and courteous peace officers that worked under the otherwise chaotic and lawless Tombstone town. But even so, Billy was someone you didn’t want to mess with.
According to history, Breakenridge (occasionally spelled Breckinridge) was born in 1846 and traveled to the Pike’s Peak mining area at only 15 years old. He joined Company B for service in the Civil War in 1864, fighting in the Battle of Sand Creek. He eventually headed for the Arizona Territory in 1876 and found himself in the town of Tombstone by 1880. He worked there as a U.S. Deputy Marshall, giving him authority that contributed to him being one of the most effective lawmen in Tombstone.
Priestley portrayed Breakenridge as someone who has a deep appreciation for the arts and is tough when needed to be. Breakenridge had put out many outlaws in the Boot Hill cemetery but would only ever use his gun as a last option. But even so, he would use this in an accurate and fast manner, earning him a reputation for being a lethal gunfighter. This event was to an extent where even the outlaws challenged him for duels.
Breakenridge was in Tombstone at the time the famous gunfight happened in O.K. Corral. During his seventies, he wrote memories about the events in Tombstone, accounts of outlaws, and the days he spent working for the railroad. He eventually died from cardiac failure in 1931 at the age of 84.
Who is Jason Priestley?
Jason Priestley is a Canadian television director and actor who starred in several popular shows like Beverly Hills, 90210, Private Eyes, Call Me Fitz, and Tombstone. He started his career in television, making commercials for different companies and then starring as a guest in the early episode of “A Piece of Cake,” which aired in early 1987.
His journey to fame started when he was picked as Brandon Walsh on the famous TV series Beverly Hills, 90210. The show obtained worldwide popularity and made him a teen idol, helping him bag two nominations for Golden Globes for his performance.
In the movie Tombstone, part of Priestley’s portrayal of Breakenridge is effeminate. One of his memorable lines in the film was “I think he’s wonderful,” as he gazes up at Mr. Fabian performing on stage. This sparked speculations and discourse about whether the real-life Breakenridge was homosexual, but there’s no concrete evidence about whether or not this is true.
In terms of accuracy, the Tombstone movie is fairly true to the real-life events that happened. In fact, some of the mind-blowing scenes from the film, like the one where Bill Brocius missed Wyatt three times from a point-blank range position before he gets cut in half with a shotgun, are actually backed up by actual documentation.
Billy Breakenridge was portrayed as effeminate by Priestley in the film, though there isn’t any evidence to prove this is true in real life. It does make for an interesting plot twist in the movie, contrasting with all these macho men with guns.
The film is based on real-life events which occurred during the 1880s in Tombstone, especially the Earp Vendetta Ride and the 30-second gunfight at the Corral. It also depicts Western lawmen and outlaws, primarily Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Johnny Ringo, and William Brocius.
The most famous phrase to come out from the Tombstone film is “I’m your Huckleberry.” This line was spoken as Doc comes on the scene, which means that he’s the person for the job, and has arrived to accept the challenge that Ringo has put out.
Tombstone is a movie that many people appreciate because of its commemoration of the events that happened along the streets of Tombstone and also because of the movie stars that played in it. If you are into Westerns, you’d definitely like the movie for its educational yet unapologetic way of retelling the famous incident. However, be warned that there are explicit themes in the film, especially bloodshed.