The Plainsman (1936)


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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.

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



as Wild Bill Hickok

as Gunrunner

as Calamity Jane

as Buffalo Bill

as Louisa Cody

as McCall

as Yellow Hand

as Painted Horse

as Gen. George Armstron...

as Abraham Lincoln

as Van Ellyn

as Capt. Wood

as Sgt. McGinnis

as Tony the barber

as Cheyenne Warrior

as Gen. Merritt

as An Urchin

as Young Soldier

as Quartermaster Sergea...

as Boat Gambler

as Veteran

as Soldier

as Custer's Messenger

as Stanton

as Schuyler Colfax

as Captain of the 'Lizz...

as Wells Fargo Agent

as Injun Charlie

as Van Ellyn's Assistan...

as Van Ellyn's Assistan...

as Van Ellyn's Assistan...

as Southern Belle

as Mary Todd Lincoln

as John F. Usher

as James Speed

as William H. Seward

as Hugh McCulloch

as Gideon Welles

as William Dennison

as Girl on Dock

as Capt. Wood's Trooper

as Native American #1

as Lattimer's Teamster ...

as Lattimer's Teamster ...

as Lattimer's Cavalry P...

as Man on Deadwood Stre...

as Girl on Dock

as Yelling Woman

as Gambler #2

as Man on Deadwood Stre...

as Capt. Wood's Medic

as Deadwood Townsman
Show More Cast

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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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