MovieChat Forums > The Plainsman (1936) Discussion > Cooper is always good, but...

Cooper is always good, but...

Gary Cooper has always been one of the best actors, but I've always wondered why he/the director made absolutely no attempt to look like Wild Bill Hickok in the film?


This film was not attempting to be realistic or accurate with the precise details so I doubt Gary Cooper or Cecil B. DeMille felt that Wild Bill Hickok in the film had to look actually like the real Wild Bill.

"I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not".


Many events in The Plainsman (1936) are based on events which happened between April 1865 and September 1876 in real history, or over a span of 11 years and 5 months. But the movie seems to cover only 2 or 3 months of fictional time.

See my posts here:

In fact, the beginning of The Plainsman (1936) has a title card that say: “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 our west.”

So according to the movie itself, not everything which happens in The Plainsman (1936) actually happened exactly as in the movie or all happened to the characters in the movie, even in the fictional universe of The Plainsman (1936).

So I imagine that some of the events in The Plainsman (1936) happened to James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok, some to other men not named William, and some to other men named William, including perhaps a fictional "Wild Will Wilcox".

And of course there are many contradictions between The Plainsman (1936) and other western movies involving one or more of the historical persons in it.

So if someone wants to watch The Plainsman (1936) along with other movies featuring the same historical persons, like Buffalo Bill (1944), for example, the opening credit will help a lot in resolving contradictions.

And this may be a reason why they didn't make Gary Cooper look more like Wild Bill. And Hickok is said to have just got out of the army and so probably had his hair cut relatively short for Wild Bill.