Where the Buffalo Roam

Where the Buffalo Roam

Infobox Film
name = Where the Buffalo Roam

caption = Cover of the Anchor Bay DVD.
director = Art Linson
producer = Art Linson
writer = John Kaye
starring = Bill Murray
Peter Boyle
Bruno Kirby
Rene Auberjonois
music = Neil Young
cinematography = Tak Fujimoto
editing = Christopher Greenbury
distributor = Universal Pictures
released = flagicon|United States April 25, 1980
runtime = 96 minutes
country = USA
awards =
language =
budget =
gross =
preceded_by =
followed_by =
amg_id = 1:54231
imdb_id = 0081748

"Where the Buffalo Roam" is a 1980 comedy film based on a number of semi-biographical stories written by author Hunter S. Thompson. The film loosely depicts Thompson's rise to fame in the 1970s and his relationship with Chicano attorney and activist Oscar Zeta Acosta. Art Linson directed the picture, while Bill Murray portrayed the author and Peter Boyle portrayed Acosta, who is referred to in the film as Carl Lazlo, Esq. A number of additional names, places, and other details of Thompson's biography are also changed in the film.

An obituary Thompson wrote for Acosta, "The Banshee Screams for Buffalo Meat", which appeared in an October 1977 issue "Rolling Stone" magazine, serves as the basis of the film, although screenplay writer John Kaye drew from several other Thompson works, including "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72", "The Great Shark Hunt" and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas". Thompson served as "executive consultant" on the film.


The film opens in the Rocky Mountains on the Colorado ranch of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, a journalist furiously trying to finish a story about his former attorney and friend, "Carl Lazlo, Esq."

Thompson then flashes back to a series of exploits involving the author and his attorney.

In 1968, Lazlo is fighting to stop a group of San Francisco youngsters from receiving harsh prison sentences for possession of marijuana. He convinces Thompson to write an article about it for "Blast Magazine". Thompson's editor, Marty Lewis, reminds Thompson that he has 19 hours to deadline. The judge hands out stiff sentences to everyone, and the last client is a young man who was caught with a pound of marijuana and receives a five-year sentence. Lazlo reacts by attacking the prosecuting attorney and is then jailed for contempt of court.

The magazine story about the trial is a sensation, but Thompson does not hear from Lazlo until four years later, when he is on assignment covering Super Bowl VI in Los Angeles. [Super Bowl VI was actually played in New Orleans, Louisiana.] Lazlo appears at Thompson's hotel and convinces him to abandon the Super Bowl story and join his band of freedom fighters, which involves smuggling weapons to an unnamed Latin American country. Thompson goes along with Lazlo and the revolutionaries to a remote airstrip where a small airplane is to be loaded with weapons, but when a police helicopter finds them, Lazlo and his henchmen escape on the plane while Thompson refuses to follow.

Thompson's fame and fortune continues. He is a hit on the college lecture circuit and covers the 1972 presidential election campaign. After being thrown off the journalist plane by The Candidate's press secretary, Thompson takes the crew plane and gives straight-laced journalist Harris from the "Post" a strong hallucinogenic drug and steals his clothes and press credentials. At the next campaign stop, in the airport bathroom, Thompson is able to use his disguise to engage The Candidate in a conversation about the "Screwheads" and the "Doomed". The Candidate tells Thompson to "fuck the doomed".

Thompson, still posing as Harris, returns to the journalist plane. Lazlo then appears, striding across the airport tarmac in a white suit. He boards the plane and tries to convince his old friend to join his socialist paradise somewhere in the desert. After causing a disturbance, Thompson and Lazlo are thrown off the plane and Lazlo's papers that describe the community are blown across the airport runway. Lazlo, presumably, is not heard from again.

The action then returns to Thompson's cabin, just as the writer puts the finishing touches on his story, explaining that he didn't go along with Lazlo because "it never got weird enough for me."


* Bill Murray as Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
* Peter Boyle as Carl Lazlo, Esq.
* Bruno Kirby as Marty Lewis
* Rene Auberjonois as Harris from the "Post"
* R.G. Armstrong as Judge Simpson
* Mark Metcalf as Dooley
* Craig T. Nelson as Cop on stand


In the late 1970s, movie producer Thom Mount paid US$100,000 for the film rights to the obituary of Chicano activist Oscar Zeta Acosta, "The Banshee Screams for Buffalo Meat", written by Hunter S. Thompson. At the time of casting, Bill Murray was a popular cast member of "Saturday Night Live". He was a friend of Thompson's and took the lead role, making the movie while he was on summer break from the show.

Thompson said when he sold the rights he figured the film would never get made, adding, "Then all of a sudden there was some moment of terrible horror when I realized they were going to make the movie."Felton, David, 1979. "Hunter Thompson Cashed His Check". "Rolling Stone's College Papers" # 2.] He was eventually brought aboard the film's production as "executive consultant". "I signed away editorial control from the beginning," he is quoted as saying to the "Rolling Stone College Papers". "I wandered around and fired machine guns on the set." The film was the directorial debut for producer-director Art Linson and was the fourth film he had produced.

During production, Murray and Thompson engaged in a series of dangerous one-upmanship contests. "One day at Thompson's Aspen, Colorado, home, after many drinks and after much arguing over who could out-Houdini whom, Thompson tied Billy to a chair and threw him into the swimming pool. Billy nearly drowned before Thompson pulled him out."cite news | last = Hill | first = Doug | coauthors = Jeff Weingrad | title = Saturday Night: A Backstage History of "Saturday Night Live" | work = | pages = | language = | publisher = William Morrow & Co | date = March 1989 | url = | accessdate = ]

Murray immersed himself in the character so deeply that when "Saturday Night Live" started its fifth season, Murray was still in character as Thompson. "In a classic case of the role overtaking the actor, Billy returned that fall to "Saturday Night" so immersed in playing Hunter Thompson he had virtually become Hunter Thompson, complete with long black cigarette holder, dark glasses, and nasty habits. 'Billy,' said one of the writers, echoing several others, 'was not Bill Murray, he was Hunter Thompson. You couldn't talk to him without talking to Hunter Thompson.'"

Ralph Steadman, who illustrated the original editions of "The Great Shark Hunt", "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and other of Thompson's works, also did the artwork for the movie poster of this film and drew the title cards for the movie.


The movie opened on April 25, 1980 in 464 theaters, earning $1,750,593 in its opening weekend and more than $6.6 million for a total lifetime gross. [cite news
last =
first =
coauthors =
title = "Where the Buffalo Roam"
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Box Office Mojo
date =
url = http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=wherethebuffaloroam.htm
accessdate = 2006-12-14

It has been panned critically for being a series of bizarre episodes strung together rather than having a cohesive central plot. Film critic Roger Ebert gave "Where the Buffalo Roam" two stars out of four and said that "The movie fails to deal convincingly with either Thompson's addictions or with his friendship with Lazlo". However, Ebert also noted that "this is the kind of bad movie that's almost worth seeing". [cite news
last = Ebert
first = Roger
coauthors =
title = "Where the Buffalo Roam"
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Chicago Sun-Times
date = April 29, 1980
url = http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19800429/REVIEWS/4290301/1023
accessdate = 2006-08-17
] In his review for the "Washington Post", Gary Arnold wrote, "Well, the actors haven't transcended their material. They're simply stuck with it. Murray and Boyle don't emerge as a swell comic team, and they aren't funny as individuals either." [cite news
last = Arnold
first = Gary
coauthors =
title = Mumbles & Bumbles
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Washington Post
date = May 1, 1980
url =
accessdate = 2007-11-15
] Jack Kroll wrote, in his review for "Newsweek" magazine, "Screenwriter John Kaye has reduced Thompson's career to a rubble of disjointed episodes, and the relentless mayhem becomes tiresome chaos rather than liberating comic anarchy." [cite news
last = Kroll
first = Jack
coauthors =
title = Writing High
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Newsweek
date = May 12, 1980
url =
accessdate = 2007-11-15

The film review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes lists the film as "rotten" with a 20% favorable rating among critics. [cite news
last =
first =
coauthors =
title = "Where the Buffalo Roam"
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Rotten Tomatoes
date =
url = http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/where_the_buffalo_roam/
accessdate = 2007-11-15

Universal Pictures quickly pulled it from distribution. Thompson hated the film, saying he liked Murray's performance but that he "was very disappointed in the script. It sucks – a bad, dumb, low-level, low-rent script." It has since gained a following through broadcast on cable television and VHS and DVD releases.


Infobox Album
Name = Where the Buffalo Roam
Type = Soundtrack
Artist = various artists

Background = soundtrack
Released = 1980
Recorded =
Genre = Rock, R&B
Length = 38:00
Label = MCA
Producer =
Reviews = * Allmusic Rating|3|5 [http://www.allclassical.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:2d867uq070j0~T0 Link]
Last album =
This album =
Next album =
The film was scored by Neil Young, who sings the opening theme, "Home on the Range" with just his a cappella voice and harmonica. Variations on "Home on the Range" are played by Young on electric guitar as "Ode to Wild Bill" and by an orchestra with arrangements by David Blumberg on "Buffalo Stomp". Music in the film included rock and R&B songs by Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, The Temptations, the Four Tops and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Additionally, characters played by Bill Murray and Rene Auberjonois sing lyrics from "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds".

Because of the high cost of music licensing, most VHS and all DVD releases have retained only the Neil Young score and the Creedence song, "Keep on Chooglin'", with the rest of the music replaced by generic approximations of the original songs. Only the theatrical release and early VHS releases contained the songs found on the soundtrack. The choice of songs for the DVD version was somewhat anachronistic, since it featured 1980s-style songs in a 1960 and 1970s setting.

Track listing

The soundtrack album was released by MCA Records in 1980 as a vinyl LP and included bits of dialogue from the film. It has not been re-issued on CD. The tracks on the album were:
# "Buffalo Stomp" – performed by Neil Young with the Wild Bill Band of Strings
# "Ode to Wild Bill #1" – written and performed by Neil Young
# "All Along the Watchtower" – written by Bob Dylan; performed by the Jimi Hendrix Experience
# "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" – written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney; performed by Bill Murray
# "Ode to Wild Bill #2 – written and performed by Neil Young
# "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" – written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong; performed by The Temptations
# "Home, Home on the Range" – written by Brewster Higley and Daniel Kelley; performed by Neil Young
# "Straight Answers" (dialogue) – performed by Bill Murray
# "Highway 61 Revisited" – written and performed by Bob Dylan
# "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" – written by Holland-Dozier-Holland; performed by the Four Tops
# "Ode to Wild Bill #3" (plus dialogue) – written and performed by Neil Young
# "Keep on Chooglin'" – written by John Fogerty; performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival
# "Ode to Wild Bill #4" – written and performed by Neil Young
# "Purple Haze" – written by Jimi Hendrix; performed by the Jimi Hendrix Experience
# "Buffalo Stomp Refrain" – performed by Neil Young with the Wild Bill Band of Strings [ [http://www.soundtrackcollector.com/catalog/soundtrackdetail.php?movieid=26482 Where the Buffalo Roam soundtrack details] at www.soundtrackcollector.com (retrieved August 17, 2006).]

ee also

* "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (film)"

References and notes

External links

*imdb title|title=Where the Buffalo Roam|id=0081748
*amg movie|id=1:54231|title=Where the Buffalo Roam
*rotten-tomatoes|id=where_the_buffalo_roam|title=Where the Buffalo Roam
* " [http://www.mrqe.com/lookup?Where+the+Buffalo+Roam Where the Buffalo Roam] " at the Movie Review Query Engine

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