DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
HD DVD / Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Sponsored Links
Search: For:
Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Cattle Annie and Little Britches (Blu-ray)
Cattle Annie and Little Britches (Blu-ray)
Kl Studio Classics // PG // April 14, 2020 // Region A
List Price: $16.59 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Stuart Galbraith IV | posted May 29, 2020 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly
Made at a point when the Western genre seemed to have run its course*, Cattle Annie and Little Britches (1981) is a curiosity. Based on Robert Ward's same-named book (he co-wrote the screenplay), the movie is populated by many historical outlaws, including Bill Dalton (Scott Glenn), Bill Doolin (Burt Lancaster), and Cattle Annie (Amanda Plummer) herself, played by an intriguing mix of veteran and emerging film talent. The film is rife with interesting concepts, similar to though not directly culled from earlier films, including The Wild Bunch and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but it never quite coalesces. The art direction, costumes, and cinematography are all good, but director Lamont Johnson doesn't really have a feel for the form. And while Kino's new Blu-ray offers the complete, 98-minute cut of the film, it plays like important character development and story material is missing, material perhaps shot but cut prior to release. Indeed, at times the picture seems almost schematic.


Penniless Anna Emmaline McDoulet (Plummer, in her film debut) and Jennie Stevens (Diane Lane, just 14 years old at the time), riding the rails, are hiding in a boxcar when their train is robbed by last remnants of the Doolin-Dalton gang (also known as the Wild Bunch). Once again, however, they've erred badly in their strike: the train is only ferrying passengers and hogs. Anna and Jennie find work at a restaurant but the cruel owner drives them away. Anna, having read of Doolin's exaggerated and romanticized exploits, is eager to join his gang.

At a saloon, the gang offers these seeming kids root beer and candy but Annie insists on straight whiskey and cigarettes, bravely swigging her dram and amusing (if not quite impressing) the boys. But later Annie is instrumental in helping the gang evade capture from Marshal Bill Tilghman (Rod Steiger), while newly-christened "Little Britches" begins to look upon Bill Doolin as a father figure.

Though little is known about the historical Little Britches, Cattle Annie was eventually captured in 1895 at the age of thirteen (Plummer was around 20, and plays Annie as a girl of around 14-15). Amazingly, she lived until the ripe old age of 95, dying in 1978, surely making her the last of the old-time Western outlaws. Plummer's performance impressively pulls no punches: she plays Annie almost dementedly determined to find excitement and meaning in a life that seems predestined for drudgery and boredom. Her raggedy, liberated if unkempt young woman is unique in Western cinema, though the movie never really digs very deep into her psyche; what's there is largely Plummer's doing rather than the script's. Lane's Little Britches is even less defined, though her brief scenes alone with Lancaster's rascally, wistful, and sympathetic Doolin are charming.

This lack of character depth pervades the film and all its characters, really. Doolin is weary like William Holden's Pike Bishop in The Wild Bunch, albeit with a dash of Lancaster's roguish Crimson Pirate. Like Pike, Doolin's tired and aimless but without Wild Bunch's three-dimensional characterizations for the rest of the gang, it's also without that earlier film's sense of comradeship. John Savage, as Bittercreek Newcomb, is chosen by Annie as the man to take her virginity, but after that their relationship goes nowhere. Scott Glenn, looking just right as Bill Dalton, likewise has no character to play, he more skittish than other, more carefree members of the Bunch, but that's about the extent of his character.

On the other hand, David Eyre and Robert Ward's screenplay captures the coarse, flowery language of the period nicely, and the costumes and art direction all seem authentically period. Though heavily fictionalized, it deglamorizes the Western outlaw in interesting, if infrequently original ways, and aspects of the characters rings true.

Video & Audio

Though theatrically released by Universal in the U.S., Cattle Annie and Little Britches seems to have drifted over to the Orion catalog. In any case, the new, 1.85:1 widescreen 1080p transfer is excellent, with Larry Pizer's (Phantom of the Paradise) cinematography coming off well, as does the DTS-HD Master Audio (mono) soundtrack. Optional English subtitles are provided for this Region "A" disc.

Extra Features

Supplements include a misguided trailer, that aims to sell the film as a rollicking family film along the lines of The Apple Dumpling Gang. Better is an all-too-brief video interview with producer Rupert Hitzig, who points to myriad connections to the cast and crew (he and Scott Glen were in the same platoon!) and the pleasant shoot.

Parting Thoughts

Though it falls way short of greatness, Cattle Annie and Little Britches has enough "good stuff" to keep it interesting throughout. It's not a lost classic Western, but it is unusual and involving. Recommended.



• Significantly, John Wayne, who'd been offered Lancaster's role, died during production, then shooting on land Wayne himself owned.

Stuart Galbraith IV is the Kyoto-based film historian currently restoring a 200-year-old Japanese farmhouse.

Find the lowest price for 'Cattle Annie and Little Britches (Blu-ray)'
Popular Reviews
1. Soldier Blue
2. Clueless Anniversary Limited Edition Steelbook (Blu-ray + Digital)
3. Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits
4. Black Rainbow
5. The Lady Eve: Criterion Collection
6. The War of the Worlds (1953)
7. Sukiyaki Western Django (MVD)
8. Return to Savage Beach
9. Beanpole
10. Deanna Durbin Collection (100 Men and a Girl / Three Smart Girls Grow Up / It Started with Eve)


Sponsored Links
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Sponsored Links
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use