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The Plainsman

The Plainsman(1937)

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The ending of the film following the poker game was missing from the viewed print. The conclusion of the plot summary was taken from the release dialogue script found in the Paramount Script Collection at the AMPAS Library. The film's opening narration states, "Among the men who thrust forward America's frontier were Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody. The story that follows compresses many years, many lives, and widely separated events into one narrative-in an attempt to do justice to the courage of the plainsman of the West." The closing narration states: "It shall be as it was in the past.../Not with dreams,/but with strength and with courage/Shall a nation be molded to last." Wild Bill Hickok's well-deserved reputation as a gunfighter was established in an interview with Colonel George Ward Nichols published in Harper's New Monthly Magazine in 1867. Hickok was a good shot and probably killed at least seven men. He was a scout in the Union Army during the Civil War and after the war, he became a marshal in Hays City, KS, and then in Abilene, KS. He appeared in a play with Buffalo Bill Cody in 1873, and in 1876, Hickok was shot in the back by Jack McCall during a poker game in Deadwood, Dakota Territory. For more biographical information about Buffalo Bill Cody, please see then entry above for Buffalo Bill, and for additional information on General George Armstrong Custer, please consult the entry below for They Died With Their Boots On.
       As reported in Daily Variety and Hollywood Reporter, shooting on a three-acre set of Deadwood City in 1865 built by Paramount began on July 21, 1936. While DeMille directed interiors, he gave instructions to second unit director Arthur Rosson, who was on location, via telephone. DeMille had with him a ten-foot model of Rosson's location scenes, as well as charts marked with every camera set-up. The cavalry sequences were shot with the Wyoming National Guard at Pole Mountain, Wyoming, twenty-one miles east of Laramie. On July 17, 1936, Hollywood Reporter reported that two guardsmen has been badly hurt the previous day while Rosson was shooting a charge scene. The scene of Custer's massacre was shot on the Cheyenne Indian Reservation at Lame Deer, Montana, where two thousand Indian actors were used as extras. Additional scenes were also shot in Birney, Montana. While location work continued in Montana, one production unit went on location at the Paramount ranch outside Los Angeles on July 24, 1936. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item on July 16, 1936, DeMille engaged actor Edwin Maxwell to serve temporarily as dialogue director. According to modern sources, Paramount studio executives wanted "Wild Bill" to survive the card game shoot-out at the end of the film, but DeMille resisted. Modern sources list the following character names: Edgar Dearing (A courier from Custer), Edwin Maxwell (Stanton, Secretary of War) and Bruce Warren (Purser of the "Lizzie Gill"). Modern sources also add the following names to the cast: Francis Ford, Irving Bacon, John Hyams, Charles Stevens, Arthur Aylesworth, Douglas Wood, George Cleveland, Lona Andre, Leila McIntyre, Harry Stubbs, Davison Clark, Charles W. Hertzinger, William Humphries, Sidney Jarvis, Wadsworth Harris, Tex Driscoll, and Stanhope Wheatcroft.