Wednesday, 14 November 2018

DVD Review - Buffalo Girls

Mill Creek Entertainment * Amazon

Do remember when CBS cranked out one Larry McMurtry miniseries after another?

While I do recall the Lonesome Dove miniseries and its sequels/prequels, I have never seen any of them. And I have never read any of the books they are adapted from. The only Larry McMurtry novels I have ever read are the four books in The Berrybender Narratives.

Mill Creek Entertainment recently released Buffalo Girls (NR; 182 minutes; $14.98) to DVD + Digital, which is a 1995 two-part miniseries based on the 1990 novel of the same name by Larry McMurtry. Directed by Rod Hardy, the miniseries starred Anjelica Houston, Melanie Griffith, Sam Elliott, Gabriel Byrne, and Reba McEntire.

Buffalo Girls is the fictionalized story based on the real-life Calamity Jane (played by Anjelica Houston), a woman who dressed, talked, and acted liked a cowboy. She's most famous for being "linked" to Wild Bill Hickok (played by Sam Elliott in the miniseries). In McMurtry's version, Calamity gave birth to a daughter after Hickok was murdered and later gave the child to a British couple.

Part One of the miniseries centers around Calamity, who regrets giving up her daughter, and Dora DuFran (played by Melanie Griffith), a madam of a brothel/hotel in Deadwood, who has an on-again off-again relationship with Ted Blue (played by Gabriel Byrne). Part Two mostly centers around Calamity joining  Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, which takes her, along with her friends Bartle Bone (played by Jack Palance) and Jim Ragg (played by Tracey Walter), to England, where she gets to visit her young daughter.

Final Thoughts

If you're looking for a historically accurate film about Calamity Jane, then look elsewhere, as this miniseries incorporates many of the Calamity "rumors" as facts in the miniseries, such as Calamity's daughter with Hickok. Historians say Calamity gave birth to two children, but the identities of the fathers were never unknown.

Anjelica Huston gives a great performance as Calamity, but I still prefer Robin Weigert's Calamity from the short-lived HBO series Deadwood. Huston's version seems to be more watered down for broadcast television.

The subplot involving Dora DuFran, which is also historically inaccurate, is utterly boring; many thanks to Melanie Griffith's wooden acting.

The picture and sound quality isn't the best. I would compare it to VHS standards. There are no special features or bonus extras.

Overall, if you ignore all the historical issues with the story, Buffalo Girls is somewhat entertaining at times. Strong performances from Anjelica Huston and Jack Palance were the most intriguing parts of the two-part miniseries. 

* Note - I received a review copy from Mill Creek Entertainment.
All opinions are my own.

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