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USA 1936
Directed by
Cecil B. DeMille
113 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

The Plainsman

Cecil B. DeMille gives this synoptic historical adventure yarn the big screen treatment with Gary Cooper as Wild Bill Hickok, Jean Arthur as Calamity Jane. James Ellison as Buffalo Bill and John Miljan as General George A. Custer in a flag-waving tale of how the West was won (by the White Man and from the savage Indians).  

There are actual historical references here, notably the opening sequence with Lincoln’s assassination and the closing one with Hickok’s murder by Jack McCall in Deadwood but what comes between is largely Hollywood tosh. Arthur makes for an unlikely Calam but, as always, she is a spirited performer. The film however is Cooper’s. Already a seasoned performer and hot from Mr Deeds Goes to Town, released earlier in the year, he is supremely cool as the dashing Hickok and provides the only real reason to watch this for any non-hardcore Western fan.

FYI: Anthony Quinn in one of his earliest roles plays an Indian who fought at Little Big Horn




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