The White Buffalo
The film was based on a novel by Richard Sale, published in 1975. Reviewing the novel, Larry McMurtry said Sale "chose a topic with great possibilities, turned it into a sharpened stake and proceeded to impale himself on it."
Film rights were bought by Dino De Laurentiis who signed Sale to adapt the novel. Sale said De Laurentiis was, along with Daryl Zanuck, one of the finest producers he ever worked with.
Bronson signed to make the film in July 1975.
"It's a Moby Dick of the west,"said director J. Lee Thompson. "It's a film we hope will work on many levels. On the first it is a wonderful, sensitive story between Wild Bill Hickok and the great Indian chief Crazy Horse. On the second it talks of a man having to find himself, seek his destiny, rid himself of fears and become more human."
Much of the film was shot on a sound-stage in Los Angeles with location shots in Colorado and New Mexico. For the buffalo scenes, producer Laurentiis hired Carlo Rambaldi to design an animatronic full-size bison that would slide around on tracks. This was based on his larger-scale work on their previous collaboration King Kong (1976).
Actors Ed Lauter and David Roya were similarly involved in King Kong, along with composer John Barry.