A fictionalized account of the life of William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody. A hunter and Army Scout in the early part of his life, he rescues a US Senator and his beautiful daughter, Louisa Frederici. Cody is portrayed as someone who admires and respects the Indians and is a good friend of Yellow Hand who will eventually become Chief of the Cheyenne. Everyone else, including the military, politicians and businessmen on the other hand hate the Indians and are perfectly prepared to trample on their lands and destroy their buffalo hunting grounds. He's eventually forced to fight the Cheyenne however. He's also met a writer, Ned Buntline, who writes about Cody's exploits and he becomes a sensation when he travels East. His career is not assured however, particularly when he attacks those in positions of authority over their maltreatment of the Native American population. He eventually establishes his wild west show that becomes an international sensation. Written by
Early production charts had Vincent Price in the role of "Murdo Carvell," but he was replaced by Frank Fenton when the role was severely cut. Many of the uncredited cast had more lines and screen time than Fenton, who was credited on screen. See more »
After Kit Carson Cody dies (in 1876) the attending doctor describes diphtheria as being caused by "a germ in the water system and sewerage." However, the first recorded instance of this disease being linked to unclean drinking wells was first published in the British Medical Journal in 1880. In the 1870s, in the USA, the real cause of the disease was still unknown. See more »
If William F. Cody had lived until 1944 he would have loved this film. Most of all he would have approved of the casting of Hollywood's most straight arrow hero Joel McCrea as himself. That's the image Cody liked to convey even if it wasn't exactly the truth.
The real Cody was a brave enough hero all right and this film does mention some of the highlights of his real life, the buffalo hunt with Grand Duke Alexei of Russia, the hand to hand fight with Yellow Hand at War Bonnet Gorge, and the formation of his wild west show.
The trouble was the real Cody got into show business and he was ballyhooed out of all proportion to his real accomplishments. And Cody was lent himself admirably to exploitation.
The movie is the kind of ballyhoo that Cody would have approved. Cody's chief publicist in real life was Ned Buntline who is faithfully portrayed here by Thomas Mitchell. Maureen O'Hara is Louisa Frederici Cody and she's the faithful, but eastern bred wife. No hint of the real marriage problems that plagued the Codys.
Linda Darnell and Edgar Buchanan are in this film and I don't really know why. Darnell is an Indian school mistress and Buchanan is a grizzled old army trooper. No real reason for either of them in the film. Darnell is killed at War Bonnet Gorge and she must have been the first squaw who rode into battle. Buchanan's character is also left hanging in the air. Anthony Quinn is Cheyenne chief Yellow Hand and is Cody's worthy adversary on the screen.
Buffalo Bill Cody's real contribution was the wild west show. Cody had many imitators, but he was the original. Until Hollywood took over with the making of the first silent westerns, these shows created the myths surrounding the winning of the west. Sadly that part of Cody's life is given short shrift.
But Buffalo Bill would have loved this film. Whether today's audience would is open to speculation.
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