Butcher’s Crossing Movie Review

“Butcher’s Crossing,” not a surprise to discover when you’re only about five minutes in, is a movie based on a Western novel that was written by John Williams. It was initially published in 1960. “Butcher’s Crossing” was John Williams’s second novel. ​

His first was called “Nothing but the Night.” His books were seen as pioneer stories that were more realistic than some were at the time. If realism is what moved his writing, I can see “Nothing but the Night” being made into a film soon.


This film becomes a staggering warning that you can’t strip everything from the earth and expect your world to stay the same. The characters here, which are all fabulously written, learn something they weren’t expecting to. Take care of the land and what it offers you. Why? It can not only turn on you, but its offers can and will eventually end.


The story starts with a young man by the name of William Andrews who, disappointing his family, decides to leave Harvard to find purpose in his life. He’s taken in by J.D. McDonald (Paul Raci), an old family friend who has an animal skin shop west in Kansas. He offers Will advice to get into another line of work. There’s no talking Will out of it. He wants to see what the country has to provide. He wants to discover why and how people live outside of Boston.


It’s 1874. Will meets and gets to know a man named Miller, played by Nic Cage, who’s attempting to get a Buffalo hunting party together but needs more money for the excursion. Guess who has some and would die to go?

Regrettably, Will’s willing to pay but doesn’t know what he’s getting into. J.D. warns him not to go, but Will is not only stubborn but excited to observe the sea of black buffalo Miller promises he has seen and can easily find again. The money he and the others will make is more money than they could ever dream of.


As expected, along the way, they run into plenty of dangers Will has never witnessed before, but to Will, this is the way he proves he’s a grown-up. Threats he never expected take a toll on the young man physically and mentally. Outside of Miller, the hands he’s putting his life into are the very religious but serious drinker Charley Hoge (Xander Berkeley). He’s more interested in flipping Will to his beliefs than being deeply involved in the trek.


Another is their experienced skinner, Fred Schneider (Jeremy Bobb). He’s in it for the money, not for the conversation. He’s aware of the troubles they can encounter. Will doesn’t know these men or the land as much as he should have before putting his life in their hands. But, as are the rest of the group, he’s thrilled and shocked when Miller finds the herd. Surprisingly, Fred is a hard-nosed, obstinate man who’s troubled and is only there to take the hides for the money. Still, he sees they’re leaving behind massive unused bodies. Natives used most of the buffalo, their coats, meat, and bones.

His comments about this is an exceptionally, unequivocally well-highlighted message that’s focused on. There may be a reason for that in the narrative of this film.


If you like the genre of westerns, this is a good one to throw yourself into. It reminds me of those of the past in conversation and how it’s beautifully shot. Some scenes are unpleasant to see. Try to think to yourself, “It’s only a movie,” and you’ll get through them just fine.  


Releasing in the theaters in the Phoenix area:

Picture Show @ Superstition (Mesa)

Chandler Fashion Center 20 (Chandler)

Queen Creek 14 (Queen Creek)

Shea 14 (Scottsdale)

Butcher’s Crossing

Director: Gabe Polsky

Writers: Gabe Polsky, Liam Satre-Meloy

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Fred Hechinger, Xander Berkeley, Rachel Keller, Jeremy Bobb, Paul Raci


Rating: R (Brief Sexual Content|Some Violence/Bloody Images|Language)

Run Time: 1h 45m

Genres: Drama, Western



tmc.io contributor: ShariK.Green tmc
I'm the Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager for tmc.io. I write, direct and produce short films with my production company, Good Stew Productions. Though it's difficult to answer this question when asked, I'd say my favorite movie is “The Big Chill.” I enjoy photography, poetry, and hiking and I adore animals, especially elephants. I live in Arizona and feel it's an outstanding and inspirational place to live.

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