5.0 1
Director: Cecil B. DeMille

Cast: Cecil B. DeMille, Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur, James Ellison


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One is immediately aware that The Plainsman is a Cecil B. DeMille production in the opening scene, wherein President Abraham Lincoln (Frank McGlynn Sr.), on the verge of signing crucial legislation which will determine the future of the American West, is dragged away from his Cabinet by a scolding Mrs. Lincoln (Leila McIntyre), who informs her husband that…  See more details below


One is immediately aware that The Plainsman is a Cecil B. DeMille production in the opening scene, wherein President Abraham Lincoln (Frank McGlynn Sr.), on the verge of signing crucial legislation which will determine the future of the American West, is dragged away from his Cabinet by a scolding Mrs. Lincoln (Leila McIntyre), who informs her husband that he'll be late for the theater! The story proper picks up in the years just following the Civil War, as crooked arms dealer John Lattimer (Charles Bickford) schemes to sell a huge shipment of repeating rifles to the Indians. Constantly thwarting Lattimer's schemes is lawman Wild Bill Hickok (Gary Cooper), who soon forms a strong alliance with Indian scout Buffalo Bill Cody (James Ellison). Rambunctious Calamity Jane (Jean Arthur) is crazy about Wild Bill, but he refuses to have anything to do with her, contemptuously wiping his mouth whenever he kisses her. He prefers the company of winsome Louisa (Dorothy Burgess), but gallantly steps aside when Louisa marries Buffalo Bill. Upon learning that a band of Indians armed with Lattimer's rifles have attacked a military garrison, Wild Bill tells General Custer (John Miljan), who in turn sends Buffalo Bill to the garrison with a consignment of weapons. Wild Bill then tries to arrange a peace conference with Indian chief Yellow Hand (Paul Harvey), but is sidetracked when he sees Calamity Jane being captured by two Indian braves. Riding to her rescue, Wild Bill is himself captured and tortured in the hope that he'll reveal the whereabouts of Buffalo Bill and his weapons. He refuses to talk, but Calamity, horrified at the agony endured by Wild Bill, tells all. Her breach of confidence leads indirectly to Custer's death at the Little Big Horn (not seen, but described by a young Indian played by DeMille's then son-in-law Anthony Quinn), whereupon Wild Bill disgustedly breaks off all communication with her. Hoping to make up for her past sins, Calamity warns Wild Bill that Lattimer has come to town a-gunning for him. Wild Bill makes short work of Lattimer, only to be shot in the back by the villain's snivelling confederate Jack McCall (Porter Hall). As he breathes his last, Wild Bill forgives Calamity for revealing the whereabouts of the ammunition; with tears in her eyes, Calamity plants a kiss on Wild Bill's lips that he'll never wipe off. As can be seen, accuracy is not the strong suit of The Plainsman; DeMille, like Buffalo Bill before him, was more interested in putting on a helluva good show than offering a dry history lesson. Unfortunately, the film often promises more than it can deliver, thanks to DeMille's insistence upon filming more of his big scenes indoors and relying far too heavily on grainy process screens. Still, the DeMille version of The Plainsman is infinitely more entertaining than the 1966 remake with Don Murray and Abby Dalton.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Universal Studios

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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Gary Cooper Wild Bill Hickok
Jean Arthur Calamity Jane
James Ellison Buffalo Bill Cody
Charles Bickford John Latimer
Helen Burgess Louisa Cody
Porter Hall Jack McCall
Paul Harvey Chief Yellow Hand
Victor Varconi Painted Horse
John Miljan Gen. George Armstrong Custer
Frank Albertson Young Trooper
Frank McGlynn Abraham Lincoln
Granville Bates Van Ellyn
Purnell Pratt Capt. Wood
Fred Kohler Jake
George "Gabby" Hayes Breezy
Charles Judels Tony, the barber
Tex Driscoll Actor
Franklin Farnum Actor
Charles Herzinger William H. Seward
William Humphrey Hugh McCulloch
Noble Johnson Actor
Jane Keckley Actor
Fred Kohler Jack
Wilbur Mack Actor
James Mason Actor
Ted Oliver Actor
Bud Osborne Actor
Francis Sayles Actor
Charles Stevens Injun Charlie
Blackjack Ward Actor
Stanhope Wheatcroft Actor
Cora Shumway Actor
Pat Moriarity Sgt. McGinnis
Harry Woods Quartermaster Sergeant
Anthony Quinn Cheyenne Warrior
Francis McDonald River Gambler
George Ernest An Urchin
George MacQuarrie Gen. Merritt
Fuzzy Knight Miner Dave
Irving Bacon Hysterical Trooper
George Cleveland Van Ellyn's Assistant
Francis Ford Veteran
Lona Andre Southern Belle
Arthur Aylesworth Van Ellyn Assistant
Hank Bell Bit part
Lane Chandler Bit part
Davison Clark James Speed
Edgar Dearing Custer's Messenger
Wadsworth Harris William Dennison
John Hyams Schuyler Colfax
Sidney Jarvis Gideon Welles
Edwin Maxwell Stanton
Leila McIntyre Mary Todd Lincoln
Gail Sheridan Bit part
Mark Strong Wells Fargo Agent
Harry Stubbs John F. Usher
Bruce Warren Captain of the Lizzie Gill
Douglas Wood Van Ellyn Assistant
Hank Worden Deadwood Townsman
Dennis O'Keefe Bit part

Technical Credits
Cecil B. DeMille Director,Producer
Roland Anderson Art Director
George Antheil Score Composer
Anne Bauchens Editor
Courtney Riley Cooper Original Story
Joe de Young Costumes/Costume Designer
Hans Dreier Art Director
Farciot Edouart Special Effects
Dwight Franklin Costumes/Costume Designer
A.E. Freudeman Set Decoration/Design
Gordon Jennings Special Effects
Grover Jones Original Story
Harold Lamb Screenwriter
Harry Lindgren Sound/Sound Designer
Jeannie Macpherson Screenwriter
Victor Milner Cinematographer
Boris Morros Musical Direction/Supervision
William Pine Producer
Lynn Riggs Screenwriter
George Robinson Cinematographer
Natalie Visart Costumes/Costume Designer
Dewey Wrigley Special Effects
Waldemar Young Screenwriter

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The Plainsman 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
With the advent of the HBO series Deadwood, many of you by your own means have discovered this American western classic, directed by Cecil B. Demile and starring one of the greatest westerners ever Gary Cooper. The Plainsman will hold you in its' hand from start to finish. How can you say that this is Cooper's finest performance yet I say that if you have not seen his performance in The Plainsman then I say that your Gary Cooper experince is incomplete. Just try to forget that this is a Cecil B. Demille movie and naturally historical accuracy goes out the window. Try if you can to ignore the list of western legends that pass through this movie, James Butler Hickok{Wild Bill}, Buffalo Bill Cody, G. A. Custer, Calamity Jane, Jack McCall, and Custers' scout Gabby Hayes{Breezy}. Somehow the glory and essence of all these characters are captured by the great manipulator Demille. See the marvelous story telling skill of Cooper while trapped with the cavalry on the river. And wonder out loud about Coopers'lighning fast draw of two pistols and maintaining that tight killer grin with his lips. Great quotes from Hickoks' life are caught if you know where to look but don't miss the quote 'you're not leaving town Latimer unless dead men can walk' for anything, a direct quote from young Hickok in Springfield, Mo. Jean Arthurs' Calamity Jane is marvelous in her lose/lose situation with Coopers' Hickok. This is the movie that contains the classic scene where Coop is held over the fire pit to make Calamity tell the chief where the soldiers take many, many bullets. In the end, Hickok is pensive and reflective as he surely must have been in real life, 'Mrs, Cody was right, what right do I have to say who is to live and who is to die' also is captured. So we have a wonderful movie that reminds the young and old alike that at one time all at once, all of these legends really did co-exist together as only Demille could present