The Plainsman

1936

Biography / History / Romance / War / Western

34
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 100%
IMDb Rating 6.9 10 1,915

Synopsis


Downloaded times
October 12, 2020

Cast

Anthony Quinn as A Cheyenne Indian
Charles Bickford as John Lattimer
Gary Cooper as Alvin C. York
Hank Worden as Deadwood Townsman
720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
1.02 GB
1280*720
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
113 min
P/S N/A / N/A
1.89 GB
1920×1080
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
113 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Steffi_P 6 / 10 / 10

"Crookeder than a rattlesnake"

There were not a lot of Westerns in the 1930s, at least not in the A-budget bracket. So why would that canny marketeer and bandwagon-hopper Cecil B. DeMille decide to make one in 1936? The answer is simple. After the failure of his few dramas in the early talkie period, he vowed to make only "big" pictures, and the Old West was simply another historical arena for grand heroic exploits, just like the crusades or the high seas. This being DeMille, the idea seems to have been to do a kind of definitive take on the setting. Waldemar Young and Harold Lamb, DeMille's current hacks-du-jour, along with "Oklahoma" playwright Lynn Riggs have created a screenplay that is not so much a cliché-fest as a cosy, sanitised and highly anachronistic snapshot of Western mythology. So we get Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Buffalo Bill and General Custer all cheerfully rubbing shoulders like an Old West version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and banding together against the common enemy (the injuns, of course). DeMille's penchant for historical accuracy may give the sets and costumes a look of authenticity, but does not extend as far as actually portraying Calamity as a drunken prostitute, and Hickok as a kind of 19th-century Lemmy from Motorhead. The two leads may not look like their historical counterparts, but at least Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur have the rugged demeanour of frontierspeople. They are also good enough performers to do a decent job despite a lack of coaching from DeMille. But as is often the case, the most interesting players are the villains. Charles Bickford looks as if he was chiselled from the buttes of the plains themselves, and gives a performance comparable to Walter Huston's Trampas in the 1929 version of The Virginian. Victor Varconi, once a handsome lead man in the silents, now thanks to his accent and looks reduced to playing all manner of swarthy baddies, is compellingly menacing as Painted Horse. And finally a young Anthony Quinn makes a short but impressive appearance as a Cheyenne warrior, lending a degree of dignity to the natives that is woefully absent in the rest of the picture. DeMille himself though does not appear to have "got" the genre. Despite the title, we don't really get to see those plains, and there is none of the romance of the outdoor lifestyle that makes classic Westerns what they are. But looking at DeMille's style you can see he is not a fan of empty spaces. Bigness for him means fullness. He really goes to town on the steamboat boarding scene, conjuring up an image of lively bustle with people moving across the frame in layers receding in depth. This is a very effective way of making a place look crowded without having to place the camera too far back or hire out every extra on the books. In other scenes, such as the one where the townspeople threaten to tar and feather Jean Arthur he uses extras to build walls around the action, filling every spare space with people. Even in simpler scenes there tends to be a degree of complexity to the shot, like a classical painting that tries to cram every aspect of an idea onto the canvas. And DeMille's images are often beautiful in a painterly way, but still the lack of "west" on display stops this from feeling like a Western. Think of this then more as an adventure yarn than a horse opera. It may be silly as silly can be (my favourite daft moment is in the opening scene, when Abe Lincoln's wife bursts into a meeting to remind him he's going to be late for the theatre, followed by a doom-laden chord in the background score), but it is not bad as far as no-brainer entertainment goes. The action scenes are exciting and punchy, largely thanks to the dynamic editing of Anne Bauchens. This is by no means essential DeMille, and certainly not essential Cooper, but is good fun if you happen to catch it.

Reviewed by robert-temple-1 8 / 10 / 10

Trails cross sometimes

This Cecil B. DeMille epic of the old West contains what may be Jean Arthur's finest performance, as a hysterical, eccentric, incurably amoral, but devotedly doting Calamity Jane. She really pulled it off! Gary Cooper is at his most taciturn, but manages some occasional pithy sayings: 'The plains are big, but trails cross ... sometimes.' The story is a pastiche to end all pastiches. All the cowboy heroes of Western lore seem to be in there somehow except for Jesse James. Even Abraham Lincoln opens the story in person (or at least, DeMille would have us believe so). There is no room for anything so evanescent as subtlety, this is a 'stomp 'em in the face' tale for the masses. A remarkable thing about this film however is that it is a very early full frontal attack on what Eisenhower was eventually to name 'the military industrial complex'. It isn't just a story about gun-runners, but about arming anyone for money, and doing so from the heart of Washington. But let's not get into politics, let's leave that to DeMille, who can be guaranteed to be superficial. The chief interest of this film all these years later is that it uses the first film score composed by George Antheil, who has a lot to say about the job in his autobiography, 'Bad Boy of Music'. Antheil seems to have originated 'the big sound' adopted by all subsequent Westerns, whereby the plains sing out with the voices and sounds of countless cowboys in the sky, celebrating the open spaces and interweaving common melodies. That is why it does not sound at all unusual, because we have heard it a thousand times. But he seems to have been the first to summon up the combined rustlings of all the sage brush into this symphony of the open skies which has entered into American mythic lore, and given it a soundtrack which has never varied since then, corny as it may be, but doubtless appropriate. It is amusing to see Anthony Quinn in an early appearance as a Cheyenne Indian. Gabby Hayes is in there somewhere, but you miss him in the crowd. Gary Cooper overtops them all, looming large, - but when did he ever loom small?

Reviewed by tmwest 8 / 10 / 10

Wild Bill, Calamity Jane, Buffalo Bill, Custer, all are here

The Plainsman is an entertaining western, no doubt a classic, which is actual even today. Gary Cooper is Wild Bill Hickok, ideal for the role, together with John Wayne and James Stewart, they were the best actors that played western heroes in their generation. Jean Arthur is great as Calamity Jane, nobody that I know played it better than her. Even if might not be historically accurate, the film manages to capture the most important about Hickok and about the time it takes place. Sometimes you have to sacrifice History to make your point and that is what DeMille does here. The friendship of Hickok with Buffalo Bill, the selling of rifles to the Indians by a great manufacturer to compensate for the losses he would have because of the end of the civil war, Custer and Little Big Horn, the uneasy relationship between Buffalo Bill's wife, a religious woman, with Hickok a man who had killed plenty, also the unusual love affair between Hickok and Calamity all this makes 'The Plainsman' a non conventional and interesting film. Anthony Quinn has a very short appearance, that already shows what a great actor he was going to become. A lot of care was taken to show the original guns of that time.

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