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Buffalo Bill And The Indians
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  • Misunderstood
    Robert Altman's "Buffalo Bill and the Indians (or Sitting Bull's History Lession)" has largely been forgotten while his other films from this period have been rediscovered as classics. While maybe its time for this one too.

    The "Why" of why this film such a critical bomb is not hard to decipher, Altman is continuing his critique of the West that started with "McCabe and Mrs. Miller". Yet this film is even more scathing. Bufflo Bill is an illiterate buffoon and President Cleveland works as a reminder that there were politicians back then. What I think really worked against Altman here, wasn't his treatment of this historical period but the changing of his own. In 1976, audiences were getting tired of these self-conscious films that were popular just five years eariler. "Buffalo Bill" stuck between "Jaws" (in '75) and then "Star Wars" (in '77) was a hard sell as the country was getting more conservative.

    Beside this, "Buffalo Bill" like a lot Altman films is a great film. He continues his pioneering use of overlapping dialogue and widescreen cinematography. And oh, did I mention it was funny, a second viewing really helps catch all of Altman's wry wit. Newman fooling around with ballet dancers is hilarious. And you can't tell me that the extra "Or Sitting Bull's History Lession" isn't a homage to Kubrick....more info

  • Burying The Heart at The Wild West Show
    Altman's comedies aren't always that funny. With a radiant Paul Newman, supported by Burt Lancaster's bemused Ned Buntline of the dime novel, we have a script delivering a steady drumroll of putdowns about the creation of the West. Buntline exits stage door left, deeply uncertain about the transformation of his own commodity into a newer, more spectacular, but thinner variant. Whatever resonance the film may be attempting to strike with 1880s values, Altman's film has plenty to say about 1970s liberal values. The buffoonery proceeds apace while Bill connives to con Sitting Bull to headline his Wild West Show. The Sioux lads (Sitting Bull has an interpreter, the aptly dubbed and granite-like, William Sampson)don't budge a grain of gravel in contracting to participate. They comply merely to facilitate the course of Sitting Bull's dream. The camera frequently withdraws to encompass the immensity of the eternal mountain range behind the ephemerality of the carnival. Bill is foiled. His grog-addled arrogance and vanity are no match for the sombre indigenies who stake their land claim,to no avail, before an supremely ignorant President Cleveland. The whites are the dills in Altman's bigger picture which has Bull's demise promptly trivialised when re-enacted in the pitiful stage death by his stoic interpreter.Hadn't he said not long before something like,'History is just disrespect for dead people'?...more info
  • Best movie about Indians I've ever seen
    well, all I can tell you is having grown up in western oklahoma with lots of real indians this is the best movie about INDIANS i have ever seen. Not only do real Indians play Indians (as opposed to Italians playing Indians) but they actually sound and feel like real Indians. I saw this movie over twenty years ago and it has haunted me ever since. Although I really don't think Buffalo Bill was as big a fraud as he is portrayed here (in fact the Indians in his Wild West show LIKED him and remarked on his generosity and compassion) I think of him (in this movie) as a symbol of how we (whites) view ourselves and of our tendency towards superficiality and phoniness.

    But above all, I think this movie made a powerful statement about Native American spirituality that rings true. Sitting Bull WAS a profoundly spiritual person. He WAS mistreated and murdered by greedy and shallow people who couldn't appreciate his profound depth.

    To me, this was a movie about Sitting Bull and the greatness of Native American spirituality and I hope it haunts you the way it has me.

    I can't believe it's not more well known....more info

  • Intriguing Idea But A Bit Shallow
    Paul Newman stars as Buffalo Bill, the showman of the wild west, with his circus act of performers. Robert Altman is famous for movings that expose how easily people fall for myths and stories, and this is no exception. Bill and his crew are all larger than life, believing in the stories written about themselves. They decide to put Geronimo into their act, thinking that they can stir up their audience into a blood lust against the "evil Indians".

    To their surprise, people actually respect the native Americans, and even the president comes out to meet Geronimo for himself. In the end it's only Geronimo that speaks honestly, and he is ignored. He leaves the white men to their problems.

    There are a number of famous actors and actresses here - Joel Grey, Harvey Keitel, Burt Lancaster, Geraldine Chaplin. Undoubtedly all signed on to make a movie that had social significance, especially with it coming out in 1976 - America's 200th year of independence. However, they are in essence satiring people who in fact were "heroes" in many ways. Buffalo Bill did in fact do some impressive things in his life. By all accounts Geronimo liked him and enjoyed being with him. For many of the city slickers, these shows were their only glimpse into what the wild west was all about, even in a general portrayal.

    Also, the native americans are treated as being supernatural Gods. They get across rivers that are uncrossable, they set up lodgings where they should not be able to. There isn't any relating to them as people, as a culture. I would really have liked to see more of the cross-cultural issues - the different ways in which they related to women, to minorities, to performing in public. ...more info
    Failure to give this a ZERO STAR Rating this gets one...It seems it is more popular to bash
    the lives of American Heroes, than give an honest portrayal. With the excuse of filming these
    as "Comedies", these type of films have been churned-out since the late '60's, such as "Little
    Big Man" and the portrayal of General George Custer. Those of us who actually KNOW about
    American History and the contribution made by these men will find this one another waste of
    time!...more info
  • interesting
    I was filmed in my home town and a very good friend of mine was a extra in the movie and we looked at it to see if we could pick her out. Unfortunatly we did not find her. o-well...more info
  • A stunning blast against the fraudulence of America.......
    While not approaching the level of "Nashville" or "McCabe & Mrs. Miller," this film employs all of the Altman tricks (overlapping dialogue, a cast of thousands) to bring forth a scathing attack on America's reliance on myth and the need to rewrite the past with lies and hypocrisy. At every turn, Altman gives us images of a culture so immersed in show business and deception that it is no longer able to distinguish between reality and fantasy. While that in itself is hardly an original concept (especially for Altman, one of our greatest satirists), it works here because the film was released in 1976, the very year America was congratulating itself for a job well done. The best image remains the last, a reinforcement of America's need to dominate and win at all cost, even though such victories might be tainted by cheap shots and blatant unfairness....more info
  • Be Careful What You Believe
    "Buffalo Bill and the Indians" was a riveting movie. Bored? Hardly. Joel Gray came close to stealing this picture, as he has many times, as Bill's business partner. While the historical Cody wasn't anywhere near the charlatan Paul Newman and Altman have made him, his portrayal reminds us all not to believe our own press.

    Cody and many of the other men of that era -- James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok springs to mind -- had lived eventful lives, lives that fascinated Easterners, reading the Dime Novels and Penny Dreadfuls or seeing one of the Wild West Shows or plays about the west. Cody and Hickok were prone to give the people what they wanted, playing their characters pretty near to the hilt. They had a sense that their time was passing and the things which had made them famous, the exploits that had made their lives seem adventutous, were coming to an end. You get this sense of approaching, inevitable obsolescence in Newman's portrayal, especially as the film nears it's end.

    I have waited for this film to be available in a decent version and I wasn't dsiappointed.

    See the film. Make your own decisions. There are several fine performances and Newman and Altman don't quite let Joel Gray steal the picture. They allow fine performances from many actors, especially Geraldine Chaplin as Annie Oakley, to shine through.

    Jamie Fraser-Paige...more info