Buffalo Girls (1995)
In my mind, Larry McMurtry is one of America's great novelists. He has an uncanny ability to craft very personal stories about the things that make us human while placing those intimate stories within a vast, sprawling setting, offering a new and different perspective on familiar places or events. His novel Lonesome Dove --as well as its subsequent television miniseries adaptation--sits near the top of my favorite westerns. A common theme in the author's work is surviving amid transition. Like The Last of the Mohicans, his characters are often out of time, feeling a sense of nostalgia for a way of life that won't soon exist. Buffalo Girls is no exception.
Plot is rarely the focus of the stories penned by Larry McMurtry. The driving force behind Buffalo Girls is relationships: romantic relationships are represented through Jane's attraction to Wild Bill Hickock (Sam Elliott) or Dora's conflict with her lover (Gabriel Byrne). There's also a huge focus on friendship, represented by two beaver trappers (Jack Palance and Tracy Walter) who have witnessed the near extinction of the animal that once provided their livelihood. There's a relationship between white men and the Native Americans, as represented by a dignified character called "No Ears." The relationship between Calamity Jane and Dora--two women with very different backgrounds and lives, but a deep affection and understanding of each other--is the real focus of the story.