Published on June 1, 2012 by Amy
Buffalo Girls is a 1990 novel written by American author Larry McMurtry about Calamity Jane (Martha Jane Cannary, 1852-1903). It is written in the novel prose style mixed with a series of letters from Calamity Jane to her daughter. In her letters, Calamity describes herself as being a drunken hellraiser but never an outlaw. Her letters also describe her larger-than-life cohorts.
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McMurtry’s ability for characterization and storytelling shines as he depicts gritty events and relationships in the life of fur trappers, cowboys, soldiers, prostitutes, and Indians as the Wild West fades away changing their way of life. The characters struggle, and many fail, to adapt to the settling of the West. In an effort to adapt and relive the Wild West, many of the characters, along with Calamity Jane, resort to performing in Bill Cody’s Wild West show. They exploit and are exploited by their frontier lifestyle, before being defeated by it in the end.
Buffalo Girls was later the basis for the 1995 CBS made-for-TV movie starring Anjelica Huston as Calamity Jane and Melanie Griffith as Dora DuFran. Wild Bill Hickock was played by Sam Elliott, Annie Oakley was played by Reba McEntire and Buffalo Bill Cody was played by Peter Coyote. The film also included Gabriel Byrne, Tracey Walter, Floyd Red Crow Westerman, Jack Palance, Russell Means as Sitting Bull, and John Diehl as George Armstrong Custer.
Some of the filming took place in Bristol Zoo and Bath.