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The Plainsman [DVD] [1936]


Price: £9.80 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur, James Ellison, Charles Bickford, Helen Burgess
  • Directors: Cecil B. de Mille
  • Producers: Cecil B. de Mille
  • Format: PAL, Black & White, Full Screen, Mono
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Universal Pictures UK
  • DVD Release Date: 6 Feb. 2006
  • Run Time: 118 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000C4ETGA
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 98,627 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

Classic western starring Gary Cooper and directed by Cecil B. DeMille. Cooper plays legendary gunman Wild Bill Hickok, battling to prevent an Indian uprising that has been fomented by unscrupulous white gun-runners in a period of immense change for the Old West. Teaming up with his lover Calamity Jane (Jean Arthur), as well as Buffalo Bill Cody (James Ellison), Hickok helps to pacify the frontier. At the same time, behind the scenes, we see the political decisions undertaken by President Lincoln (Frank McGlynn Snr) that gradually shape the American frontier in the period after the Civil War.

From Amazon.co.uk

Just 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 Cody, and Calamity Jane, all cutting up in the 1870s, with George Armstrong Custer and Abraham Lincoln thrown in for good measure. (Wait a minute, Lincoln was assassinated in 1865--oh, never mind.) Truth to tell, Buffalo Bill doesn't really pull his weight, since (1) he is hopelessly distracted by virtue of having recently married and (2) he's played by James Ellison, an eternal juvenile normally relegated to second-banana duty in Paramount's Hopalong Cassidy series. However, Gary Cooper's Wild Bill and Jean Arthur's Calamity supply enough star power to light up the Dakotas and parts of Missouri.

Every once in a while, DeMille and his small army of writers stumble upon an actual historical fact. Bill Cody did fight to the death with an Indian chief named Yellow Hand. George Custer and James Butler Hickok did both buy the farm in the summer of 1876. (Custer's Last Stand is handled imaginatively, if cheaply, as a vision narrated by a wandering Cheyenne warrior--none other than C.B.'s son-in-law Anthony Quinn in one of his earliest screen appearances.) Jack McCall (veteran weasel Porter Hall) did find himself in Deadwood, South Dakota, at the same time Wild Bill was drawing aces and eights in a poker game ... though McCall was not necessarily affiliated with DeMille's favourite villain, Charles Bickford, in the business of running guns to the Indians. --Richard T. Jameson

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Spike Owen TOP 500 REVIEWER on 1 May 2012
Format: DVD
The Plainsman is directed by Cecil B. DeMille and written by Courtney Ryler Cooper & Frank J. Wilstach. It stars Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur, James Ellison, Charles Bickford, Helen Burgess and Paul Harvey. Music is by George Antheil and cinematography by Victor Milner. Film is a fictionalised account of the relationships involving Wild Bill Hickok (Cooper), Calamity Jane (Arthur), Buffalo Bill (Ellison) and George Custer (John Miljan).

Master of the epic DeMille crafts a big and bold Western that's finely acted, interesting in its telling and big on idealism. You obviously have to forget real time lines, this is a splicer as DeMille and Co take some of the Wild West's most famous characters and stir them into one Oater stew! Friendships and affairs of the heart form the basis of thematics, with the war against the redskin giving the characters reason for being. Gun running and politico musings drift in and out of the narrative but leave a mark, while DeMille proves classy in action construction as a number of warfare sequences raise the pulse considerably.

The flip-side...

There are no bad apples in the cast (Cooper wonderfully macho, Arthur whip-crackingly gorgeous and Bickford suitably weasel like), though Burgess doesn't quite grasp the dramatic thrust of being Buffalo Bill's good woman. The running time is a touch too long, with several passages of dialogue serving only as time filling exercises, while the back screen projection work is irritable if a little understandable given the time of production. Ultimately there are flaws that make this only a comfortable recommendation to classic era Western fans who can accept it as a 1930s dressed up bit of frontier malarkey. Casual observers, mind, are unlikely to get past the historical hodge-podge and hooray idealism. 7/10
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By BUBS. on 2 Mar. 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
i suppose at the time 1936 this western would have been one on the top films of the genre and the benchmark upon which to improve . the storyline entwines the great characters and events of the wild west but not in a historically acurate order , the portrayal of the characters is done well and all the main events from the leading characters are covered , but with far less action {indian wars} than the cover leads you to expect . the film is also in black and white not coloured like the region 1 version states on the internet and the cover again leads you to believe .
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By GlynLuke TOP 100 REVIEWER on 5 Jun. 2014
Format: DVD
Cecil B. DeMille has was the acme of the booted whip-wielding director whose word was law. He could also, on this showing, direct with a clear eye and a visual sense which turns this early western from mere hokum into something much more.
Sadly but predictably, many American Indians are killed during the film`s 110 minutes` running time, and there are several scenes early on in which a few of them are shown pow-wowing with Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane (Gary Cooper & Jean Arthur, both superb) which strain one`s patience.
Most of this engrossing film rests on the shoulders of its two effervescent leads, as well as the rather colourless but nonetheless effective James Ellison as Buffalo Bill Cody - there are two Bills in the story, each adressing the other as Bill, something you`d think they would have got round at script stage. (Couldn`t Hickok have been Bill, and Buffalo referred to as Cody, perhaps?)
Coop has seldom been so winning or so cheerful - remember those pained performances in later years? Jean Arthur is so full of inventiveness and energy as Calamity that I wanted to cheer. She`s one of my favourite actress, here are plenty of reasons why. She balances cheeky flirtatiousness with tough stoicism, not to mention a petite sexiness all her own, and made me believe she was the well-named Calamity Jane of legend. She and Hickok`s bantering, fractious relationship is beautifully acted out, and their scenes glow.
The opening sequence involving Lincoln and his congressmen is a bit hard to take (especially the woman playing Mrs Lincoln, who simply couldn`t act) but when the film gets going, you`re in for a thoroughly enjoyable time.
Well worth seeing more than once, if only for Jean & Coop. He was her favourite leading man, and it shows.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael Bo on 30 Aug. 2004
Format: DVD
The new handful of Westerns that Universal has just released on DVD are not among the most well-known of their genre, but it is a joyful occasion all the same, all the more actually. Three out of the seven titles that I have seen are great, 'The Spoilers', 'No Name on the Bullet' and 'The Plainsman'. Not a bad average. The only really bad one is 'When the Daltons Rode'.
Veteran epic director Cecil B. CeMille's 'The Plainsman' is a hugely mounted, dramatic and blazing Western with Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill, Calamity Jane, Lincoln and Custer in one and the same movie! And add numberless scores of exotically feathered Indians and cavalry men.
In this universe violence equals heroism, but the Sioux chief is given time to defend his people, and Jean Arthur's loveable Calamity has her own way of prevailing against the man she is seen chasing all through the film! Gary Cooper's Hickok is shy and awkward, and he is never quite made to kiss her.
The action scenes are riveting, the sets are beautiful, the humanity in the picture is convincing, and in the end, as we see Hickok place himself with his villanous hostages with his back to the saloon door, everybody with even a feeble grasp of Western mythology know what is up ...
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