Buffalo Bill and the Indians 1976

director: Robert Altman  



United States

Alternative Titles

  • Or Sitting Bull's History Lesson
  • Buffalo Bill



Winner of the prestigious Golden Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival of 1976, Robert Altman's Buffalo Bill and the Indians is not a movie which gives up all its secrets at a first viewing. Although the subtitle "Sitting Bull's history lesson" hints that there's more to the film than meets the eye. The opening scene bears this out. In the glowing but unreal colours of the front covers of the Wild West paperbacks of almost a century ago, a marauding band of savage Indians is massacring a family of settlers. Then as the camera pulls back, the prairie and distant mountains prove to be just a painted backcloth; the dead pick themselves up; property men wheel away he log cabin. For the Indian wars are now over, and William F. Cody (Paul Newman) is re-staging history as mass entertainment in his Wild West Show and adding lustre to his own heroic image as the legendary Buffalo Bill. He shuts his ears to the sardonic comments of story writer Ned Buntline (Burt Lancaster), who knows that Cody is really a hero of fiction based on a smattering of fact . A tinsel star who has come to believe in his own publicity. A showman giving the public what it wants - like the sharp shooting of Annie Oakley (Geraldine Chaplin) and exciting re-enactments of battles on horseback in which the "treacherous" Indians invariably end up biting the dust. The whites are all goodies, the redskins all baddies. Surrounded by sycophants, Cody sees himself as a giant among pygmies until he meets his match in his old adversary Sitting Bull (Frank Kaquitts). Released from prison to appear as himself in Cody's latest audience puller, Custer's Last Stand, the Sioux chief refuses to play the white man's game. He remains aloof and inscrutable, speaking only through his wily interpreter (Will Sampson). The scene is now set for a battle of wits and wills in a slyly satirical comedy with a relevance to all history as it has been simplified and distorted to fit the needs of popular entertainment.


Available on VHSAvailable on Betamax

Average User Rating: 0 Vote(s)
Average User Rating
Average User Rating
Average User Rating
Average User Rating
Average User Rating
Average User Rating
Average User Rating
Average User Rating
Average User Rating
Average User Rating
Coverscan of Buffalo Bill and the Indians
Video Cover Thumbnail(s)

Distributor Thorn EMI
Catalogue Number TVB 900687 2
Release Series
Release Date April 1982
Printed Classification
User Reviews: