Primarily escapist fare, Buffalo Bill is a super-western and often a tear-jerker. Filming it in colorful outdoor panorama, Harry A. Sherman has made it a magnificent production.
Those familiar with the story of William F. Cody may wonder why this cinema version [based on a story by Frank Winch] does not lay more stress on his career as a showman and less on his romance and wedded life. But few residents of Cody, Wyo, Council Bluffs or the Platte river country will find fault with the sweep of the redskin-white man struggle done so skillfully by director William A. Wellman.
Head-on battle between US cavalry and Cheyenne tribe at War Bonnet Gorge is the story’s focal point, with Buffalo Bill, famed scout and friend of the Indian, becoming the yarn’s hero in man-to-man combat with his former redskin pal.
Joel McCrea makes a realistic Buffalo Bill. Maureen O’Hara, as the daughter of a senator who goes west to push through a railroad line, and later weds McCrea, is satisfying. Linda Darnell, the Indian schoolteacher who loves Cody, has too little to do but does that little with charm. Thomas Mitchell is the eastern newspaperman who authors books about Buffalo Bill’s fame in the west and acts as his promoter when he visits the east. Per usual, a shipshape characterization.