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CHARLES BRONSON JAWS-LIKE WESTERN 'THE WHITE BUFFALO'

Charles Bronson ducks for cover in The White Buffalo YEAR: 1976
A Charles Bronson cult film that, without the hilariously dated and contrived title creature, is a surprisingly decent Western in its own right...

Haunted by nightmares of THE WHITE BUFFALO, Bronson, as a retired, inconspicuous Wild Bill Hickok, wakes up with guns blazing, all his own — first on a train and then inside a gold mining town's hotel run by a gracious Kim Novak...

In-between we learn of the giant beast through the frantic, personal rage of the most sympathetic character, Will Sampson's Crazy Horse, who must go by the name 'Worm' until he avenges his family's death and, by the end, a stretch of terrain that resembles a neatly cut, treeless landing strip provides a showdown location for the killer Buff's three hunters — so let's cover the main JAWS similarities through the main characters...

The White Buffalo Score: ***1/2
Bronson's Wild Bill,is the Roy Scheider, while both Jack Warden's scruffy old miner (who tells a Buffalo backstory) and Sampson are a combination of Robert Shaw; and the latter's meticulous knowledge provides some Richard Dreyfuss while the eclectic trio — despite the two white men being initially reluctant to accept help from an Indian — bond while fighting the land-antagonist played by a bearded, menacing Clint Walker, who had followed Hickok from a rowdy barroom into a craggy mountainside, perfect for a Western duck-and-cover shootout in two of the best scenes: both involving blood and guns, sans the dated monster...

Lobby Card w/ Warden, Bronson and Sampson
Which comes soon enough — and like JAWS could override the fake-looking shark through terrific acting, editing and overall direction (being one of the greatest movies ever made helps too), Spielberg actually didn't expose the deadly fish very much. Here, the Buffalo's shown a quite a bit, despite an ironic attempt to cover up its entirety, ambling in a rocking-horse fashion, only the head shown clearly...

One that refuses to hang from a wall like its weaker, less evolutionary brethren in this wonderfully flawed seventies curio that works despite itself, and almost seems like intentional camp. So if centering more on the eclectic road (including a bizarre stage coach scene with a ridiculously doomed/conveniently sexist and racist Stuart Whitman) and less on its inevitable, titular destination, THE WHITE BUFFALO — perhaps both the film and the monster — may just grow on you. If you let it.  
Clint Walker is edgier and more... awake than ever in THE WHITE BUFFALO
Kim Novac gives Wild Bill vertigo played by Charles Bronson in THE WHITE BUFFALO
You've heard the "boneyard" mentioned but here it is literally... along with the shades Tarantino would steal
If only THE WHITE BUFFALO were titled BILY BIZON all around the world
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