Cattle Annie and Little Britches

Cattle Annie and Little Britches is a 1981 Western drama[2] starring Burt Lancaster, Rod Steiger, Diane Lane, and Amanda Plummer, based on the lives of two adolescent girls in late–19th century Oklahoma Territory who became infatuated with the Western outlaws they had read about in Ned Buntline's stories and left their homes to join the criminals. It was scripted by David Eyre and Robert Ward from Robert Ward's book and directed by Lamont Johnson.

Cattle Annie and Little Britches
Cattle Annie and Little Britches poster.jpg
Directed byLamont Johnson
Written byDavid Eyre
Robert Ward
Based onCattle Annie and Little Britches
by Robert Ward
StarringBurt Lancaster
John Savage
Rod Steiger
Diane Lane
Amanda Plummer
Scott Glenn
Buck Taylor
Music bySahn Berti
Tom Slocum
CinematographyLarry Pizer
Edited byWilliam Haugse
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • April 24, 1981 (1981-04-24)
Running time
97 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$534,816[1]


The outlaws the girls find are the demoralized remnants of the Doolin-Dalton gang, led by an historically inaccurately aged Bill Doolin (Burt Lancaster at 67). Anna Emmaline McDoulet, or Cattle Annie (Amanda Plummer), shames and inspires the men to become what she had imagined them to be. The younger sister (but historically not a relative) Jennie Stevens or Little Britches (Diane Lane) finds a father figure in Doolin, who in the story line coined her nickname "Little Britches". Doolin's efforts to live up to the girls' vision of him lead him to be carted off in a cage to an Oklahoma jail where he waits to be hanged. With the help of the girls and the gang, Doolin escapes and rides off to safety with his men. The girls are triumphant, but they cannot escape Marshal Bill Tilghman (Rod Steiger) and are sent back East to the reformatory in Framingham, Massachusetts.



During production, Lancaster collapsed from a bile duct blockage. According to his daughter, Joanna, who was on set, they returned to Los Angeles and an ambulance met them at the airport. It was 105 degrees, and the ambulance broke down on the way to the hospital.

"He got out and pushed,” she recalled. “I couldn’t get him to behave”. [3]


The film was favorably reviewed by the critic Pauline Kael in The New Yorker. " The cinematography [by Larry Pizer] is vivid … the colors are strikingly crisp and intense. The dialogue and most of the incidents have a neat, dry humor. It's a wonderful, partly true story … there are some wonderful performances. As Bill Doolin, Lancaster (who made the film before Atlantic City) is a gent surrounded by louts — a charmer. When he talks to his gang he uses the lithe movements and the rhythmic, courtly delivery that his Crimson Pirate had when he told his boys to gather round. In his scenes with Diane Lane, the child actor who appeared in New York in several of Andrei Serban's stage productions, and who single handedly made the film A Little Romance almost worth seeing, Lancaster has an easy tenderness that is never overdone. Lancaster looks happy in the movie and still looks tough: it's an unbeatable combination. Young Amanda Plummer gives a scarily brilliant performance."[4]


  1. ^ Cattle Annie and Little Britches at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ Cattle Annie and Little Britches on IMDb
  3. ^ "Roles of a lifetime". The Harvard Gazette. July 19, 2013. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  4. ^ Pauline Kael reprinted in the collection Taking It All In ISBN 0-7145-2841-2

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