IMDb > Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (1976)
Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson
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Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (1976) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

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6.1/10   2,724 votes »
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Director:
Writers:
Arthur Kopit (play)
Alan Rudolph (screen story and screenplay) ...
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
24 June 1976 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
A cynical Buffalo Bill hires Sitting Bull to exploit him and add his credibility to the distorted view of history presented in his Wild West Show. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Awards:
1 win See more »
User Reviews:
See it and make up your own mind. See more (33 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Paul Newman ... The Star (William 'Buffalo Bill' Cody)

Joel Grey ... The Producer (Nate Salisbury)

Kevin McCarthy ... The Publicist (Maj. John Burke)

Harvey Keitel ... The Relative (Ed Goodman)

Allan F. Nicholls ... The Journalist (Prentiss Ingraham) (as Allan Nicholls)

Geraldine Chaplin ... The Sure Shot (Annie Oakley)

John Considine ... The Sure Shot's Manager (Frank Butler)

Robert DoQui ... The Wrangler (Oswald Dart) (as Robert Doqui)
Mike Kaplan ... The Treasurer (Jules Keen)

Bert Remsen ... The Bartender (Crutch)
Bonnie Leaders ... The Mezzo-Contralto (Margaret)
Noelle Rogers ... The Lyric-Coloratura (Lucille DuCharme)

Evelyn Lear ... The Lyric-Soprano (Nina Cavallini)

Denver Pyle ... The Indian Agent (McLaughlin)
Frank Kaquitts ... The Indian (Sitting Bull)

Will Sampson ... The Interpreter (William Halsey)
Ken Krossa ... The Arenic Director (Johnny Baker)
Fred N. Larsen ... The King of the Cowboys (Buck Taylor)
Jerri Duce ... The Cowboy Trick Rider
Joy Duce ... The Cowboy Trick Rider

Alex Green ... The Mexican Whip and Fast Draw Act
Gary MacKenzie ... The Mexican Whip and Fast Draw Act
Humphrey Gratz ... The Old Soldier
Pat McCormick ... The President of the United States (Grover Cleveland)

Shelley Duvall ... The First Lady (Mrs. Grover Cleveland)

Burt Lancaster ... The Legend Maker (Ned Buntline)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Dennis Corrie ... Rancher (uncredited)
E.L. Doctorow ... Adviser to President Grover Cleveland (uncredited)

Patrick Reynolds ... President Cleveland's Aide (uncredited)

Directed by
Robert Altman 
 
Writing credits
Arthur Kopit (play "Indians")

Alan Rudolph (screen story and screenplay) &
Robert Altman (screen story and screenplay)

Produced by
Robert Altman .... producer
Scott Bushnell .... associate producer
Jac Cashin .... associate producer
Dino De Laurentiis .... executive producer
Robert Eggenweiler .... associate producer
David Susskind .... executive producer
 
Original Music by
Richard Baskin 
 
Cinematography by
Paul Lohmann (director of cinema photography)
 
Film Editing by
Peter Appleton 
Dennis M. Hill  (as Dennis Hill)
 
Production Design by
Anthony Masters  (as Tony Masters)
 
Art Direction by
Jack Maxsted 
 
Set Decoration by
Dennis J. Parrish 
 
Costume Design by
Anthony Powell 
 
Makeup Department
Monty Westmore .... makeup artist
 
Production Management
Les Kimber .... unit manager
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Rob Lockwood .... second assistant director
Tommy Thompson .... assistant director
 
Art Department
Rusty Cox .... scenic artist
Dennis J. Parrish .... property master
Graham Sumner .... assistant property master
Graham Sumner .... assistant set decorator
 
Sound Department
Chris McLaughlin .... sound
Richard Oswald .... sound editor
Richard Portman .... sound re-recording mixer
William A. Sawyer .... sound editor (as William Sawyer)
James E. Webb .... sound (as Jim Webb)
Rob Young .... sound (uncredited)
 
Special Effects by
Logan Frazee .... special effects
Terry D. Frazee .... special effects (as Terry Frazee)
John Thomas .... special effects
Bill Zomar .... special effects
Joe Zomar .... special effects
 
Stunts
John Forster .... stunts (uncredited)
Greg Walker .... stunts (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Arthur Brooker .... grip (as Art Brooker)
Edmond L. Koons .... camera operator (as Eddie Koons)
J. Michael Marlett .... gaffer
Jack L. Richards .... camera operator (as Jack Richards)
Robert Reed Altman .... second assistant camera (uncredited)
Peter Appleton .... featurette cinematographer (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
J. Allen Highfill .... costume assistant
Jules Melillo .... wardrobe
 
Editorial Department
Stephen Altman .... apprentice editor (as Steve Altman)
Mark Eggenweiler .... apprentice editor
Tony Lombardo .... assistant editor
Tom Walls .... assistant editor
 
Other crew
Lyn Austin .... Broadway stage producer
John Bianchi .... Buffalo Bill's gun belt by
John Binder .... script supervisor
Dino De Laurentiis .... presenter (as Dino DeLaurentiis)
Maysie Hoy .... researcher
Dan Perri .... title designer
John Scott .... head wrangler
Oliver Smith .... Broadway stage producer
Roger L. Stevens .... Broadway stage producer (as Roger Stevens)
Tommy Thompson .... production executive
Norman Walke .... operator: titan boom
Joe Thornton .... production assistant (uncredited)
 
Crew believed to be complete


Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
123 min | Finland:105 min (1979) | 135 min (video release)
Country:
Language:
Color:
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
One of seven films that actress Shelley Duvall made with director Robert Altman. The films include Popeye (1980), _Nashville_, 3 Women (1977), Brewster McCloud (1970), Thieves Like Us (1974), McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), and Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (1976).See more »
Goofs:
Anachronisms: Another flag with 48 stars is seen just prior to the Presidential scene. In the scene where Buffalo Bill plays for the President, the Presidential booth is adorned with 2 flags, each with 48 stars. The 48 star flag became the official flag in 1912.See more »
Quotes:
Ned Buntline:Bill, any youngster like yourself who figures to set the world on fire best not forget where he got the matches.See more »
Movie Connections:

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
16 out of 21 people found the following review useful.
See it and make up your own mind., 28 December 2003
Author: mockturtle from New York

I disagree with the general consensus that this film was a misstep. Albeit having a big star like Paul Newman in an Altman film unbalances things a bit, but it is the surety with which the thematic elements are juggled that distinguishes it. I can see this film being a companion piece to `The Candidate,' because as much as `Buffalo Bill' is about the onset of capricious celebrity and the occupation of `Superstar' where it is strongest is in its political parallels. That way we keep Butch and Sundance together. The most perfectly Altman scene in the picture occurs when President Grover Cleveland (played ineptly by the same actor who was terrible opposite Carol Burnett in `A Wedding' [sometimes a good reason not to cast non-actors is that many of them can't act!]) is told that Buffalo Bill coins all his own sayings, a shady character whispers in Cleveland's ear and he replies, `All great men do.' Despite everyone speaking more or less as though they were in an Altman picture from modern day the twists put on the script of Arthur Kopit's play `Indians' make it much more cinematic (even though the majority of the action takes place within the gates of Fort Ruth). I believe the change to Altmanspeak overcame the usual problems of stageplay-screenplay, and Altman's `Greatest Show On Earth' mentality provides us with excellent reenactments of acts from the show. I believe Newman gets better as it goes along, he and Altman reveal how much more he knows about Bill than Bill knows about himself without winking or indicating, just by letting it play out, especially in his last big aria to the `ghost' of Sitting Bull. Sitting Bull is as enigmatic as Cleveland is simple, you never can tell if he's just as dopey or if he really is a great spiritual leader, you never can tell for sure if his interpreter (the great Will Sampson, fresh off `One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest') is helping Sitting Bull, selling him out, just interpreting. The events seem to indicate that Sitting Bull's dreams of foresight are correct, and the final image of Bill tearing the feathered headdress away from Will Sampson's interpreter, who has a white name, then holding the scalp up with apparent joy in their acclaim and terror at the part he has played in it says it all. Annie Oakley, the white person who has the most genuine sympathy for Sitting Bull, never has a righteous speech about it, never gets preachy about treating Indians like humans; she just says she'll leave if Sitting Bull leaves, he asks to stand next to her in a picture and she cries when she hears he's been shot. This is a morally complex film, and part of what it asks us to consider is what happens when the livelihood and lives themselves of actual people can be controlled by a showman like Bill who cares nothing for them and has reached his present power without any greatness to recommend him, or a schill like Cleveland (apocryphal, I might add, there isn't much to support that Cleveland was a figurehead particularly, he was written that way for a reason). Notice how Bill and Cleveland often speak in aphorisms that sound deep but usually mean absolutely nothing. At one point Buffalo Bill parries an aphorism Sitting Bull is using to indicate the conditions under which he will stay with one that Bill immediately tells his crew was giving Bull back some of his own confusing mumbo-jumbo. The same style of sayings are used by Burt Lancaster's `Legend Maker,' the writer of 10-cent westerns that made William F. Cody a star, and when you're watching a movie about the first hero made entirely by myth, with no military or political background, just great accomplishments that were completely made up, made right around the bicentennial by a maverick such as Altman I think such things are worth more consideration than `dumb film!'

Performance-wise who knew that Harvey Keitel was in this movie at all? He gives a memorably tiny performance, low key and inconspicuously funny as heck. Joel Grey plays one of the parts that would be given to Bob Balaban in more recent years, not really adding much to it. Burt Lancaster gives rich character to essentially a narrator and commentator. Newman's performance doesn't unbalance this film nearly as much as it did Altman's `Quintet' (both genre-wise and scriptwise, it was almost a character study), but it does show why Altman is more successful with a giant cast of B actors, or one main character that is content to listen and react more than speak, than with superstars.

The stage play is much much different. It focuses much more explicitly on the atrocities and hypocrisies committed. Sitting Bull speaks, quite a bit, and believes Buffalo Bill to be his friend. Buffalo Bill is ineffectual, and the one person most responsible for the extinction of the Buffalos the Indians once hunted (it would have been nice if they'd at least mentioned how he got the name Buffalo Bill, he killed thousands and thousands). Of the two, I prefer the movie, but wish Altman had shown a little more responsibility toward historical record.

This is a confusing and complex movie, alternately very subtle and prone to brash sometimes annoying running gags (the mezzos singing in the background are particularly cloying) and it is no surprise that people didn't know what to think of it. I'm just glad it is out on DVD so people can see an excellent representation of it and make up their own minds.

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