Sound Feature: The Plainsman


Studio: A Cecil B. DeMille Production
Paramount Pictures
Premiered: January 1, 1937

Featured Cast: Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur, James Ellison

Producer-director: Cecil B. DeMille
Screenwriters: Harold Lamb, Lynn Riggs, Waldemar Young
Source: the Frank Wilstach novel Wild Bill Hickock and stories by Courtney Ryley Cooper
Additional writers: Stuart Anthony, Grover Jones, Jeanie Macpherson, Wallace Smith, Virginia Van Upp
Cinematographer: J. Peverell Marley
Art directors: Hans Dreier, Roland Anderson
Costumers: Joe De Yong, Dwight Franklin, Natalie Visart
Music: George Antheil, Boris Morros
Editor: Anne Bauchens


Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and Buffalo Bill join forces against a gun runner.

Production Quote

“Five acres of sets, some of them with a history dating to pre-sound days, were demolished to make room for The Plainsman. Where the gates of Jerusalem have stood for a year, a street in Deadwood City was constructed. The walled city of Acre is now the docks of Leavenworth after the War Between the States. Windsor Castle has become the riverboat docks of St. Louis.”

– Katherine Coughlin, “Producing The Plainsman,” Movie Classic, January 1937


“Played with spirit and intelligent understanding by principals and entire supporting cast, with class individual performances sticking out all over and directed in the same style, all the substantiating features—locales, photography and particularly the musical accompaniment— have a definite place in the general scheme. All of them have been applied by DeMille to produce quality thrill and action entertainment, the exploitation values of which are limited only by how intensely showmen want to work and how much money they have to spend.”

– Motion Picture Herald, November 28, 1936

Letters From Regional Theater Owners

“A real smash hit in every sense of the word. Pleased everyone.”

– Warren L.A. Weber, Deluxe Theatre, St. John, Kansas, Motion Picture Herald, April 10, 1937

Artist Comment

“One of the most touching love scenes in any picture I have made is the brief, laconic, almost inarticulate exchange between Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, when they are awaiting probable death as captives of the hostile Indians.”

– Cecil B. DeMille, Autobiography


The Plainsman cost $974,084.85 and grossed $2,278,533.33.
(These figures have not been adjusted for inflation nor do they include the considerable profits realized from reissues, television syndication, and home entertainment formats.)