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The Plainsman

56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Screen legends Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur star in Cecil B. DeMille's sweeping classic. This stylish Western skillfully interweaves classic real-life Old West legends like Wild Bill Hickok (Cooper), Calamity Jane (Arthur), Buffalo Bill Cody, George Armstrong Custer and Abraham Lincoln into a stunning tale as vast as the wild frontier itself. Packed with thrilling action, powerful drama and spectacular set pieces, The Plainsman set the standard by which other western extravaganzas would be forever measured.

Special Features

  • Theatrical Trailer

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur
    • Directors: Cecil B. DeMille
    • Producers: Cecil B. DeMille
    • Format: Black & White, NTSC
    • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
    • Subtitles: French, Spanish
    • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
    • Studio: Universal Studios
    • DVD Release Date: June 1, 2004
    • Run Time: 114 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B0001FVDWS
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,644 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "The Plainsman" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 27, 2000
    Format: VHS Tape
    This epic western condenses "many years into an hourglass". In 1936 when it was made, it used available information & speculation, added a big dose of romance, & created a masterpiece. More recent research has rendered some of the plot devices obsolete, but for the lovers of great film, who cares? The friendship of Hickok & Cody was true enough, & the rest is good fun. Cooper & Arthur are superb, & the supporting cast is terrific. This is a must-see film for anyone.
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    29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Nix Pix on March 5, 2005
    Format: DVD
    "The Plainsman" represents the directorial prowess of Cecil B. DeMille at its most inaccurate and un-factual. It sets up parallel plots for no less stellar an entourage than Wild Bill Hickok (Gary Cooper), Buffalo Bill Cody (James Ellison), Calamity Jane (Jean Arthur), George Armstrong Custer and Abraham Lincoln to interact, even though in reality Lincoln was already dead at the time the story takes place. Every once in a while DeMille floats dangerously close toward the truth, but just as easily veers away from it into unabashed spectacle and showmanship. The film is an attempt to buttress Custer's last stand with a heap of fiction that is only loosely based on the lives of people, who were already the product of manufactured stuffs and legends.
    TRANSFER: Considering the vintage of the film, this is a moderately appealing transfer, with often clean whites and extremely solid blacks. There's a considerable amount of film grain in some scenes and an absence of it at other moments. All in all, the image quality is therefore somewhat inconsistent, but it is never all bad or all good - just a bit better than middle of the road. Age related artifacts are kept to a minimum and digital anomalies do not distract. The audio is mono but nicely balanced.
    EXTRAS: Forget it. It's Universal!
    BOTTOM LINE: As pseudo-history painted on celluloid, this western is compelling and fun. Just take its characters and story with a grain of salt - in some cases - a whole box seems more appropriate!
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    19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By John on March 13, 2000
    Format: VHS Tape
    THE PLAINSMAN is probably all the things its champions and its detractors say it is. Graham Greene felt it was the best western ever made when he reviewed it in 1936. Others point to the clumsy plotting and awkward pacing. However, there are things in it which are just wonderful! Take the opening sequence, with the illegal gun runners plotting how to get around government laws. It is tightly written, bitterly ironic and flawlessly acted. Indeed, it is as up-to-date as John Le Carre's fine novel about illegal gun runners of today -- THE NIGHT MANAGER. There are beautifully handled set-pieces, especially the shoot-out on a dusty, deserted street, shot in one long take, in which Cooper kills three villains. No MTV-style editing here, no tight close-ups of guns exploding, bodies flying, etc. You aren't asking yourself after the scene is over, how did he kill all those guys? And then there is Cooper's performance -- since he knew from the beginiing that his character was to die at the end, he played throughout as if his Hickok was doomed and well knew it. The weary fatalism in the way he utters his lines, the bleak look in his eyes for most of the film, it is a very, very fine performance. A performance which isn't given its due, perhaps because it is a DeMille film. For all its flaws, this is a movie with a great deal recommending it. Try it.
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    5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 15, 2000
    Format: VHS Tape
    Although the dialogue leaves a lot to be desired, this is a very entertaining film. The story moves in such a way that there is never a dull moment. Gary Cooper is good with gentle sarcastic wit. If Jean Arthur as Calamity Jane would slow down a little, her character might be more appealing. She seems to rush through her lines. But the story is good, albeit a little unbelievable at times - just too many big-name American historical characters interacting. (Did they really all cross paths like this?) Definitely worth watching. You'll get caught up in the story.
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    3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Phoebe Stogstill on December 26, 2008
    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    . . . But Mr. DeMille knew plenty about biology. Though terribly historically inaccurate, this is a lovable and entertaining movie. It tells the story of Wild Bill Hickok (about fighting Indians with guns--"Keep the barrels hot, this next one's mine!"), Buffalo Bill Cody, Calamity Jane Canary, and the taming of the West. The sparks really fly between Wild Bill (Gary Cooper) and Calamity Jane (Jean Arthur)--such on-screen chemistry. You don't really want to pay much attention to the story line or plot because you are so hypnotized by Jean's wisecracks directed at Bill and her hard to disguise tomboyishy love for him--very funny and you wish you could be there in person so you could see ol' Coop turn red in the face at her attempts to get his attention. Aw shucks, ma'am.
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    12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By "scotsladdie" on November 2, 2001
    Format: VHS Tape
    On September 17, 1868, while fording the south fork of the Republican River in what is now Colorado, General "Sandy" Forsyth was ambushed by 600 Cheyennes and Arapahoes. Outnumbered ten to one, Forsyth and his troops took refuge on a brushy island in the middle of the river and for nine days stood off one of the fierest charges in the history of Indian wars. The ten years which followed this gallant episode saw the final defeat of the Indians on the Northern half of the Great Plains. Some 300 battles were fought, chiefly against the Sioux and Cheyennes. In 1876, the two nations rallied to wipe out General Custer's regiment on the Little Big Horn. By 1880, Indians were no longer a power on the plains. Cecil B. DeMille, the producer of super-colassal spectacles of the thirties and forties goes the American West for THE PLAINSMAN. The film opens with a prologue shot of President Lincoln and his Cabinet, from then on compresses many actual events in the history of the Great Plains. Its hero and heroine are two of the most famous characters of the West "Wild" Bill Hickok and "Calamity Jane" ably portrayed by Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur (whose Calamity is decidedly more glamourous - with rouge and mascara applied - than was the real Martha Jane Canary!) In one segment, the Cheyennes ambush Buffalo Bill for twelve minutes ; it was considered quite an exciting climax to 1937 audiences.
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