The White Buffalo

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The White Buffalo
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJ. Lee Thompson
Produced byDino De Laurentiis
Written byRichard Sale
Based onnovel by Richard Sale
StarringCharles Bronson
Jack Warden
Will Sampson
Kim Novak
Music byJohn Barry
CinematographyPaul Lohmann
Edited byMichael F. Anderson
Distributed byUnited Artists
Village Roadshow Pictures (Australia)
Release date
  • May 6, 1977 (1977-05-06)
Running time
97 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$6 million[1]

The White Buffalo is a 1977 western film directed by J. Lee Thompson and starring Charles Bronson, Kim Novak, Jack Warden, Slim Pickens and Will Sampson.[2]


Wild Bill Hickok is haunted by his dreams of a giant white buffalo. So much that he travels the West to find the beast. Along the way, Hickok meets Crazy Horse, who is also searching the plains for the giant white buffalo, who has killed Crazy Horse's daughter. Hickok and Crazy Horse team up to kill the elusive buffalo.

Main cast[edit]


The film was based on a novel by Richard Sale published in 1975. Reviewing the novel, Larry McMurtry said Sale "chose a topic with great possibilities, turned it into a sharpened stake and proceeded to impale himself on it."[3]

Film rights were bought by Dino De Laurentiis, who signed Sale to adapt the novel. Sale said De Laurentiis was, along with Daryl Zanuck, one of the finest producers he ever worked with.[4]

Bronson signed to make the film in July 1975.[5]

"It's a Moby Dick of the west," said director J. Lee Thompson. "It's a film we hope will work on many levels. On the first it is a wonderful, sensitive story between Wild Bill Hickok and the great Indian chief Crazy Horse. On the second it talks of a man having to find himself, seek his destiny, rid himself of fears and become more human."[1]

Much of the film was shot on a soundstage in Los Angeles, with location shots in Colorado and New Mexico. For the buffalo scenes, producer Laurentiis hired Carlo Rambaldi to design an animatronic full-size bison that would slide around on tracks. This was based on his larger-scale work on their previous collaboration King Kong (1976).[6]

Actors Ed Lauter and David Roya were similarly involved in King Kong, along with composer John Barry.

Additional notes[edit]

In the film, Wild Bill Hickok often wears dark glasses. There is a factual basis to this characterization. In 1876, Hickok was diagnosed by a doctor in Kansas City, Missouri, with glaucoma and "ophthalmia". Actually, he was probably afflicted with trachoma, a common vision disorder of the time.

The film screened on TV under the title Hunt to Kill.[7]


  1. ^ a b "An Intrepid Gunfighter Meets Fear" Gallo, William. Los Angeles Times 25 July 1976: c1.
  2. ^ "The White Buffalo". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Two Not Quite Historic Books: Book World NIGHT OF THE SILENT DRUMS. THE WHITE BUFFALO. By John L. Anderson (Seribner's. 406 pp. $9.95) By Richard Sale (Simon & Schuster. 253 pp. $7.95) Reviewed by Larry McMurtry The Washington Post 22 Sept. 1975: B5.
  4. ^ "Looking Up to De Laurentiis" Sale, Richard. Los Angeles Times 12 Dec. 1976: t2.
  5. ^ "A Tribute to a Good Shepherd" Murphy, Mary. Los Angeles Times 15 Nov 1975: a8.
  6. ^ "'Mad as Hell' in Beverly Hills" Lee, Grant. Los Angeles Times 17 Nov. 1976: f17.
  7. ^ HE REJECTS PEEPING-TOM COMEDIES Ryan, Desmond. Philadelphia Inquirer 14 Aug. 1983: H.4.

External links[edit]