Picks and Pans Review: Buffalo Girls
This distaff western is built around the fictionalized escapades of Calamity Jane in the waning days of the Wild West. Let's take care of the marquee casting first, since that is the major selling point. Anjelica Huston portrays the raw-boned, buckskinned Calamity, the biggest tomboy of all time. On a rare occasion when she gets all gussied up and goes into a saloon, several men ask her to dance. "That ain't dancin'," Huston splutters. "That's grizzly wrasslin'." Melanie Griffith plays Huston's friend Dora, and Irish actor Gabriel Byrne, exhibiting a very credible American accent, plays Dora's cowboy love, Blue. Other big names: Reba McEntire as Annie Oakley, Sam Elliott as Wild Bill Hickok and Peter Coyote as Buffalo Bill Cody.
Stealing the show (a matter of petty theft, I assure you) are Jack Palance and Tracey Walter as squabbling but inseparable trappers adrift in a world where the beavers they hunt are nearly extinct.
The miniseries, which concludes the following night, is aimless and indulgent despite Huston's ample, sometimes touching performance. Though visually appealing, the film completely fails to capture the elegiac tone of the Larry McMurtry novel on which it is based.