Wild Bill Hickok attempts to stop an Indian uprising that was started by white gun-runners.Wild Bill Hickok attempts to stop an Indian uprising that was started by white gun-runners.Wild Bill Hickok attempts to stop an Indian uprising that was started by white gun-runners.
To be clear, I don't mind that it takes so many liberties with historical facts. When I watch a movie I don't necessarily need a history lesson, and I can forgive a movie taking liberties in order to tell a good story.
However, there is little subtlety and emotional weight in the storytelling. In the first half, things happen to move the story along, without necessarily making much sense.
Gary Cooper, not my favorite among the western genre's big stars, is aloof as Wild Bill Hickok. No one can deny his cinematic presence, though. Jean Arthur brings some fun to her role as Calamity Jane. I have seen some reviewers praising her performance, but the problem is, she never seems convincing. Lead actresses of this era were expected to be beautiful, romantic and sensitive, and that's fine when they play a beautiful, romantic and sensitive woman, which is most of the time. But Calamity Jane? Can we buy Jane Arthur as dissolute, unconventional and wild? The script gives her more to do in this movie than most actresses get in westerns of this period, but she still has to spend the movie mooning after a disdainful Gary Cooper to provide the conventional romance.
I feel like I'm being more negative than the movie deserves. It's just the it doesn't always live up to its ambition. Once you accept that you can't take the story too seriously, you can enjoy it as harmless entertainment. In fact, it finds more focus in the second half of the movie, which is quite fine.
- Dec 1, 2020