Tall Tales and Legends: Annie Oakley (1985)






Director:     .

Starring:     Jamie Lee Curtis (Annie Oakley), Brian Dennehy (Buffalo Bill), Cliff De Young (Frank Butler), Nancy Lenehan (Lyda), Lu Leonard (Queen Victoria), Joyce Van Patten (Ma), Nick Ramus (Sitting Bull), Donovan Scott (Joe), Shelley Duvall (Narrator), David McCharen (Cowboy Pete), John Achorn (Thomas Edison), Apesanahkwat (Interpreter), Anne Marie McEvoy (Young Annie), Douglas Milbrand (Small Boy), Bill Turner (Reporter).

children's film from Shelly Duvall's Tall Tales and Legends

Time:  50 minutes. 



Spoiler Warning:

Little Annie is in her cradle.  Her mother is trying to rock her to sleep.  Getting tired, mother asks Lida to take over for her.  Early on the father got sick and died.  The family was very poor.  One day Annie shot a grouse and mother cooked it for supper.  From that day on Annie was out hunting for her family's supper and for food to sell to other families.

One day when Annie is older, her mother sends her to Cincinnati, Ohio, to stay with her sister Lida and her husband. Annie goes but she tells her mother that she will be back. 

Annie takes the train to Cincinnati.  Her sister lives in a fancy part of town, East Walnut Hills.  Sister is happy to see Annie.  She puts Annie's rifle in the umbrella rack with the umbrellas.  Then Lida introduces Joseph to Annie.  Joseph is happy to see her, because he has a love of shooting matches and he definitely wants to see her shoot.  He takes her over to a shooting gallery and she knocks one duck down after another.  Joseph thinks his sister-in-law is so good that she might even beat the professional sharp shooter Frank Butler. 

They go down to where Frank takes his target practice.  He says he's happy to show the trio his shooting skills.  Sister and Joseph says Annie can really shoot.  You should have seen her down at the shooting gallery.  They want Annie to challenge Frank, but Frank thinks they are joking around with him.  He tells Annie that what he does is not like what young girls do at shooting galleries.  He has a bunch of cans lined up on a board on the ground a ways from them.  Frank says he'll show her what he can do.  Annie, however, picks up a rifle and very quickly knocks down one can after the other.  Frank Butler is impressed and asks the young lady her name.  She's Phoebe Ann Mosey of Ohio.  Annie beat the pants off of Frank, but Mr. Butler didn't seem to mind one bit.   Annie becomes Mrs. Frank Butler. 

On the train, Frank tells Annie that she's going to be a star  --  a shooting star at that.  Annie wants to know what's his plan.  His plan is to join the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show.  One of the towns they go by is Oakley and so Annie Moses becomes Annie Oakley. 

Frank goes to Buffalo Bill. but he says he can't take on a woman.  He says what he needs is someone who can shoot something like this.  He throws a coin up in the air, and Annie shoots a bullet through it.  She then nicks his whiskey bottle causing it to fall flat.  The whiskey runs into a glass, and Annie tells Buffalo Bill to have a drink on her.  Cody is impressed by Annie Oakley.

Annie becomes a big star.   Buffalo Bill comes over to Annie and introduces her to none other than Sitting Bull.  The chief says he is very honored to see the greatest shooter he has ever seen.  Sitting Bull gives her an Indian name:  Little Miss Sure Shot.  Buffalo Bill tells the chief that he would pay him $20 dollars a week to be in the Wild West Show.  Sitting Bull ignores that and says he wants to make Annie his honorary daughter.  She says she lost her father when she was very young and she would be honored to have such a great man as her father.  Now Buffalo Bill offers $25 dollars.  Sitting Bull says he will do it for $50 dollars a week.  Buffalo Bill signs the chief at that rate. 

Now Bill Cody takes the show out on the road traveling by train. And now Annie starts getting 200 letters a day from her fans.  She doesn't like all this attention she has been getting.  And she's tired of having to act like Cody wants her to act, rather than be herself.  She says she's getting confused as to who she is.  Sitting Bull says he always gets booed when he comes out and he and the other Indians have to play the role of savages.  It used to really bother him but now he has learned to not listen to the boos.  He knows who he is, and that's good enough for him. 

On Staten Island Cody gives his first night performance. 

Annie's fame grows and she adjusts to it and starts enjoying it.  She even got a letter from Mark Twain and Thomas Edison came to see her. 

Next stops:  London, Paris and maybe Berlin. The Wild West Show was even a bigger hit in London than it had been in New York.  Queen Victoria visits her. 

Annie goes to Germany by herself.  Then Annie and Frank sail back to New York.  She leaves the show.

Bill Cody comes to see Annie.  She says she will come back if he will agree to put on the show in her hometown to show her act her mother and friends.  He agrees to her terms. 

Her mother sees the show and tells her how proud she is of Annie.  Buffalo Bill greets the whole family. 

In 1910 the Wild West folk went their own ways.  In 1917 Cody died.  In the 1920s Frank and Annie retired. 



Short and sweet story made for children, but still an entertaining show for adults too.  Jamie Lee Curtis (as Annie Oakley) and Brian Dennehy (as Buffalo Bill Cody) were very good. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.




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