Wednesday, 7 January 2009


This film has been a favourite of mine since its original release. While I was never a huge fan of director J. Lee Thompson he did turn out a few bona-fide classics (such as ICE COLD IN ALEX and the original version of CAPE FEAR) and while THE WHITE BUFFALO may not match those it does achieve a rather unique atmosphere with its tale of a nightmare ridden Wild Bill Hickok pursuing a mystical white buffalo. Charles Bronson gives one of his very best performances as Hickok, slowly loosing his sight and suffering from syphilis. The supporting cast is one to relish with Jack Warden, Will Sampson (as Crazy Horse), Slim Pickens, John Carradine, Kim Novak, Clint Walker and Ed Lauter. One of the strongest elements of the movie is the script by Richard Sale (from his own novel) which has the real feeling of people trapped by their fate and powers beyond their control - plus some wonderfully authentic period dialog (which provided me with one of my favourite words in "flummery"). The film has recieved criticism for the actual appearance of Carlo Rimbaldi's animatronic giant white buffalo (there is, to be sure, an unfortunate shot that reveals the tracks on which the beast runs) but generally I feel that the "not quite real" quality adds to atmosphere...and we must remember that this was in the days before CGI. Rating ***

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