With the end of the North American Civil War, the manufacturers of repeating rifles find a profitable means of making money selling the weapons to the North American Indians, using the front man John Lattimer to sell the rifles to the Cheyenne. While traveling in a stagecoach with Calamity Jane and William "Buffalo Bill" Cody and his young wife Louisa Cody that want to settle down in Hays City managing a hotel, Wild Bill Hickok finds the guide Breezy wounded by arrows and telling that the Indians are attacking a fort using repeating rifles. Hickok meets Gen. George A. Custer that assigns Buffalo Bill to guide a troop with ammunition to help the fort. Meanwhile the Cheyenne kidnap Calamity Jane, forcing Hickok to expose himself to rescue her.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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?
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