The Plainsman (1936) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Plainsman (1936)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Plainsman Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

This lavish epic tells the story of how Wild Bill Hickok stopped John Latimir from selling weapons to the Cheyenne. Help and hindrance arrives in the form of Lincoln, Calamity Jane, George Custer, and Buffalo Bill.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Western, Drama, Romance, Classics
Directed By: ,
Written By: Jeanie Macpherson, Jeannie Macpherson, Harold Lamb, Waldemar Young, Lynn Riggs
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 1, 2004
MCA Universal Home Video


Gary Cooper
as Wild Bill Hickok
Jean Arthur
as Calamity Jane
James Ellison
as Buffalo Bill
Helen Burgess
as Louisa Cody
Paul Harvey
as Yellow Hand
Victor Varconi
as Painted Horse
John Miljan
as Gen. George Armstron...
Frank McGlynn Sr.
as Abraham Lincoln
Granville Bates
as Van Ellyn
Purnell Pratt
as Capt. Wood
Pat Moriarity
as Sgt. McGinnis
Charles Judels
as Tony the barber
Anthony Quinn
as Cheyenne Warrior
George MacQuarrie
as Gen. Merritt
George Ernest
as An Urchin
Frank Albertson
as Young Soldier
Harry Woods
as Quartermaster Sergea...
Francis McDonald
as Boat Gambler
Francis Ford
as Veteran
Irving Bacon
as Soldier
Edgar Dearing
as Custer's Messenger
John Hyams
as Schuyler Colfax
Bruce Warren
as Captain of the 'Lizz...
Mark Strong (II)
as Wells Fargo Agent
Charles Stevens
as Injun Charlie
Arthur Ayleswofth
as Van Ellyn's Assistan...
Douglas Wood
as Van Ellyn's Assistan...
George Cleveland
as Van Ellyn's Assistan...
Lona Andre
as Southern Belle
Leila McIntyre
as Mary Todd Lincoln
Harry Stubbs
as John F. Usher
Davison Clark
as James Speed
Charles Herzinger
as William H. Seward
William Humphrey
as Hugh McCulloch
Sidney Jarvis
as Gideon Welles
Wadsworth Harris
as William Dennison
Gail Sheridan
as Girl on Dock
Lane Chandler
as Capt. Wood's Trooper
Noble Johnson
as Native American #1
Ted Oliver
as Lattimer's Teamster ...
Jim Mason
as Lattimer's Teamster ...
Bud Osborne
as Lattimer's Cavalry P...
Franklyn Farnum
as Man on Deadwood Stre...
Louise Stuart
as Girl on Dock
Jane Keckley
as Yelling Woman
Wilbur Mack
as Gambler #2
Francis Sayles
as Man on Deadwood Stre...
Hank Bell
as Capt. Wood's Medic
Hank Worden
as Deadwood Townsman
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News & Interviews for The Plainsman

Critic Reviews for The Plainsman

All Critics (4) | Top Critics (1)

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

There's good rapport between Cooper as Wild Bill and Jean Arthur as Calamity Jane in DeMille's lavish historical spectacle.

Full Review… | September 14, 2012

Plays fast and loose with history.

Full Review… | June 2, 2011
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Boxoffice Magazine

Audience Reviews for The Plainsman


DeMille attempts his standard epic story. Like the opening text states, which scrolls by similarly to Star Wars' opening, the story plays loosely with history in order to condense events and characters that "conquered" the west. It is full of themes of Manifest Destiny, "wild" white men who decimate supposedly savage Native Americans to make the west safe for fragile homemaking women, or even the tom-boyish types like Calamity Jane. The stars Cooper as Wild Bill Hickok and Arthur as Calamity Jane are both likeable, but have had better roles elsewhere. Ellison as Buffalo Bill Cody (let me tell you, it is confusing with two characters named Bill!) was an unknown to me. He does an acceptable job standing eye to eye with the 6' 3" Cooper. Bickford as a John Latimer pulls off a somewhat menacing villain. I didn't like the racist portrayal of the Native Americans. I liked how both frontiersmen, both Bills, had the skills for tracking and killing because they were veterans of the Civil War and yet they were "long-hairs" who couldn't fit in in civilization. Yet, I don't think this movie explored those themes enough.

Byron Brubaker

Super Reviewer

The film starts soon after the Civil War with Lincoln conversing with his cabinet members. On his way out for the night he mentions he's going to the theatre. (lol) After he departs, some big-nose guy says he can make money by selling the excess guns from the war to the Injuns. Wild Bill Hickok on his way back West bumps into Buffalo Bill Cody and Calamity Jane. (A lot of jokes about Calamity Jane's slutiness.) Once out West the Natives have become restless with their new found firepower, and go on the warpath. They capture Calamity & Wild Bill and tell them they are mad because Whites are in their area (and want a race war). General George Custer saves them. They decide to seek out the source of the Indian's guns which takes them to Deadwood. There the story ends (as any student of history would expect, even with all the Hollywood liberties with the truth). A really good film through and through.


ust maybe the most shamelessly enjoyable of Cecil B. DeMille's pseudo-historical epics, this rumbustious frontier saga offers a three-for-one Western legends combo--Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill

Andre Vaser

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