"May the sun never set on this great nation, unless it comes up again in the mornin'."
- Buffalo Bill (Paul Newman)
Total Film - 09/01/2000
"...Worth seeking out..."
Uncut - 10/01/2004
"An enjoyable indictment of Hollywood."
Sight and Sound - 11/01/2004
"Newman is impressive..."
Robert Altman revisits American history--following the critical smash NASHVILLE--with this scathing indictment of celebrity and politics in the Wild West. Paul Newman (BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID) stars as Buffalo Bill Cody, a man who has parlayed his legend into a grand moneymaking scheme. Employing a group of talented gunslingers and horseback riders, Bill's carnival show promotes an exaggerated view of American history. However, when the company recruits equally legendary Native American Chief Sitting Bull (Frank Kaquitts) and his interpreter, William Halsey (Will Sampson) to appear as defeated victims in the show, the lies begin to catch up with Buffalo Bill. While the appearance of President Grover Cleveland (Pat McCormick) further helps carve Bill's name in history, it is revealed that Sitting Bull is not completely done with Bill. Altman's adaptation of Arthur Kopit's play contains his signature roaming camera and sprawling cast, as well as conveys a sarcastic, cynical tone that aims to debunk myths created by the real-life legends on which the film is based. As the manipulative Buffalo Bill, a man whose conscience finally catches up with him, Newman delivers a comical and impassioned performance, adding yet another memorable character to his, and director Altman's, oeuvre.
In this Robert Altman view of western Americana, based on a stage play by Arthur Kopit, Paul Newman portrays Buffalo Bill as a boisterous, eccentric charlatan who has learned to exploit his name for celebrity and wealth. His ridiculous interpretation of American history, featuring an eclectic group of individuals, is challenged by the arrival of Chief Sitting Bull, a quiet Native American whose mere presence begins to challenge Buffalo Bill's mental state. Altman's comedy presents a lighthearted yet biting critique of American historical and cultural myths.
Essential Cinema |
Native Americans |
Old West |
Theatrical Release: June 24, 1976.
The film was shot on location on an Indian reservation in Alberta, Canada.