First Cow

In the 1820s, a taciturn loner and skilled cook travels west to Oregon Territory, where he meets a Chinese immigrant also seeking his fortune. Soon the two team up on a dangerous scheme to steal milk from the wealthy landowner’s prized Jersey cow – the first, and only, in the territory.

Credits: TheMovieDb.

Film Cast:

  • Cookie: John Magaro
  • King-Lu: Orion Lee
  • Chief Factor: Toby Jones
  • Lloyd: Ewen Bremner
  • Captain: Scott Shepherd
  • Totillicum: Gary Farmer
  • Chief Factor’s Wife: Lily Gladstone
  • Woman with Dog: Alia Shawkat
  • Trapper Jack: Dylan Smith
  • Trapper Dame: Ryan Findley
  • Trapper Bill: Manuel Rodriguez
  • Russian Trapper: Patrick D. Green
  • Thomas: Jared Kasowski
  • Man with Raven: René Auberjonois
  • Sailor in Saloon: Jean-Luc Boucherot
  • Cribbage Player: Jeb Berrier
  • Heckler in Saloon: John Keating
  • Brilliant William: Don MacEllis
  • Fort Trapper: Todd A. Robinson
  • Fort Trapper: Kevin-Michael Moore
  • Fort Trapper: Eric Martin Reid
  • Fort Trapper: Ted Rooney
  • Fort Trapper: Phelan Davis
  • Fort Trapper: Mike Wood
  • Totillicum’s Wife: Sabrina Mary Morrison
  • Chief Factor’s Servant: Mitchell Saddleback
  • Hawaiian Woman: Mary Ann Perreira
  • Hawaiian Man: T. Dan Hopkins
  • Man with Canoe: James Lee Jones
  • Soldier: James Ridley
  • The Cow: Eve the Cow

Film Crew:

  • Executive Producer: Scott Rudin
  • Costume Design: April Napier
  • Producer: Neil Kopp
  • Sound Re-Recording Mixer: Leslie Shatz
  • Casting: Gayle Keller
  • Producer: Anish Savjani
  • Editor: Kelly Reichardt
  • Novel: Jonathan Raymond
  • Music Editor: Scott Hirsch
  • Executive Producer: Eli Bush
  • Director of Photography: Christopher Blauvelt
  • Producer: Vincent Savino
  • Electrician: Randall S. Timmerman
  • Unit Production Manager: Louise Lovegrove
  • Foley Mixer: Ryan Collison
  • Set Decoration: Vanessa Knoll
  • Foley Artist: Leslie Bloome
  • Digital Intermediate Colorist: Joe Gawler
  • Stunts: Michael Hilow
  • Production Sound Mixer: Christian Dolan
  • ADR Voice Casting: Dann Fink
  • Digital Imaging Technician: Sean Goller
  • Production Design: Anthony Gasparro
  • Visual Effects Supervisor: Chris Connolly
  • Local Casting: Simon Max Hill
  • Makeup Department Head: Jessica Needham
  • Stunts: Bret Kiene
  • Still Photographer: Allyson Riggs
  • Foley Artist: Joanna Fang
  • “B” Camera Operator: T.G. Firestone
  • Property Master: Paul Curtin
  • Assistant Property Master: Sean Fong
  • Boom Operator: Tula Snoeck
  • Leadman: Conor Wing
  • Gaffer: Scott Walters
  • Foley Mixer: Nick Seaman
  • Key Grip: Bruce Lawson
  • Marine Coordinator: Kent W. Luttrell
  • Dialogue Editor: Daniel Ward
  • Assistant Editor: Ben Mercer
  • Production Supervisor: Steven Weisman
  • Best Boy Electric: Matthew May
  • Special Effects Coordinator: Kai Shelton
  • Key Hair Stylist: Jameson Eaton
  • Hair Department Head: Jennifer Serio
  • Stunts: Art Hickman
  • Key Makeup Artist: Corinna Woodcock
  • Art Direction: Lisa Ward
  • Payroll Accountant: Erika Seward
  • First Assistant Director: Chris Carroll
  • Location Manager: Janet Weiss
  • Foley Editor: Laura Heinzinger
  • Stunts: Cyrus Leisy
  • Stunt Double: Anthony Oh
  • Original Music Composer: William Tyler
  • ADR Mixer: Don Hoffman
  • Transportation Captain: Amber Fox
  • Construction Coordinator: Jarred Decker
  • Construction Coordinator: Buddy Rosenberg
  • Costume Supervisor: Jayme Hansen
  • Assistant Costume Designer: Coral Cunningham
  • Second Assistant Director: Kyle Eaton
  • Stunt Double: Kyle DiLorenzo
  • First Assistant “A” Camera: Cameron Carey
  • First Assistant “B” Camera: Danielle C. Carroll
  • Second Assistant “A” Camera: Brian Tasker
  • Dolly Grip: Taylor Lawson
  • Grip: Matthew Semchee
  • Electrician: Stephen Purcell
  • Electrician: Cody Curtin
  • Art Department Coordinator: Michael Diallo
  • Set Costumer: Hannah Mary Bates
  • Assistant Location Manager: Erika Suchecki
  • Production Secretary: Kristina Strickland
  • Production Secretary: Elizsabeth Vander Houwen
  • Assistant Production Coordinator: James Farro
  • Casting Assistant: Hannah Shaffer
  • Production Accountant: Rory D. Smith
  • Transportation Coordinator: James Ivanovich

Movie Reviews:

  • SWITCH.: ‘First Cow’ may show an origin of capitalism, but unlike the wild west of Wall Street, Reichardt points to an alternate reality where it’s not the muscle of capitalism that conquers, but rather the sweet companionship and commitment to fellowship that will, not the greed of self-interest. In Reichardt’s world, greed is a modern illness, and it’s only when Cookie and King-Lu’s solidarity falters that their lives begin to unravel. People will succeed in cooperation, not at the expense of others – a lesson that feels even more important now in 2020 than it may have ever felt in 1820.
    – Joel Kalkopf

    Read Joel’s full article…

    4 stars

  • MSB: If you enjoy reading my Spoiler-Free reviews, please follow my blog @

    As you should know by now, I love watching films as blind as possible: no trailers and a minimum amount of information about the plot (or none at all). A24 became such a popular studio that I don’t even need to know anything else about the movie, I’m always in. Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros., Disney, and Columbia might be the Big Five of film studios, but gradually people are starting to shift their attention to smaller, independent ones who deliver fewer movies per year, but a higher ratio of great films. This is also the very first movie I watch from Kelly Reichardt. The simplest of research will show everyone that her films are meant to heavily divide critics and audiences, so which side do I fall on this time?

    I’m not trying to patronize anyone, but First Cow belongs to that category of movies that audiences hate and critics love simply due to the slow pacing and minimalist story. Audiences will look at this flick as a dull, long, uneventful story, while critics will not only appreciate its remarkable technical attributes, but also the sweet, simple narrative that delivers quite a nice message about friendship, loyalty, but also greed and power. I’m not on either extreme, but I did enjoy this flick. Overall, I actually agree with each group’s praises and criticisms.

    On one hand, this small story feels refreshing and pretty relaxing, having in mind Hollywood is packed with visually overwhelming blockbusters. It’s a weird yet therapeutic couple of hours where the viewer follows two friends trying to get by. Cookie has the cooking abilities and smart ideas, while King-Lu uses his sense of opportunity to bring his friends’ ideas to life. The chemistry between John Magaro and Orion Lee is phenomenal, making their characters’ friendship feel incredibly authentic. The dialogues seem spontaneous and realistic. The editing (also performed by Reichardt) contains few cuts, letting the conversations flow naturally and the action to unravel at a slow, calm pace (in life, things don’t arrive fast one after the other).

    On the other hand, the simplistic narrative is also rather predictable, and it loses the viewer’s attention occasionally due to the constant dragging out of several sequences where nothing truly happens, story and/or character-wise. It’s undoubtedly a slow-burn, nothing wrong with that, but it just isn’t able to be effective throughout the entire runtime. Christopher Blauvelt’s cinematography looks gorgeous, and William Tyler’s subtle score is particularly pleasant, but visuals and atmosphere can’t carry a screenplay for more than two hours. When the story gets going, it’s definitely captivating, but it gets itself stuck during short periods spread throughout the whole film.

    In the end, Reichardt and Jon Raymond’s well-written screenplay transmits a pretty kind message developed through two characters who need to find a way to make a living, to improve their lives. Their personalities are distinct, balancing their friendship with both their personal qualities and flaws. Reichardt picks up the co-written narrative and gives it an excellent direction, which apparently has given this duo great success. Hopefully, they’ll keep making movies for everyone to enjoy, some more than others.

    All in all, First Cow possesses one of A24’s trademarks: unconventional storytelling. Kelly Reichardt and Jon Raymond deliver a well-written screenplay, telling a minimalist story that will probably divide critics and audiences due to its purposefully slow pace and uneventful narrative. Reichardt, who also edited the film, takes a simple premise and gives it a realistic, grounded, layered direction characterized by genuine conversations and a true friendship. John Magaro and Orion Lee offer flawless performances, elevating their characters with emotionally palpable chemistry. Beautiful cinematography and a subtle score help the movie create a relaxing atmosphere different from the usual Hollywood flicks. Nevertheless, its runtime features dragged out moments, a predictable development story-wise, and while the film’s message is quite sweet, it can become a bit of a tedious journey to experience. Overall, I recommend it to anyone who just wants to peacefully watch a simple movie with a great message without caring about how long it takes to reach the end.

    Rating: B

  • CinemaSerf: This is a gently comedic story of a couple of pioneering Oregon frontiersmen. Cook-cum-baker John Magaro (“Cookie”) who falls in with the entrepreneurial “King-Lu” (Orion Lee). The pair quickly realise that there is a decent amount of money to be made by indulging the sweet teeth of their fellow hardy companions – and when they discover that the local headman has had a cow delivered – the only one for miles – a clandestine business that involves purloining the milk from said cow to enhance their cakes offers riches, but some risk too – the factor (Toby Jones) is unaware that his is, technically, the manna from which these delicious sweets are being made. What follows is a little bit predictable, but nonetheless enjoyable to watch as they try to stay one step ahead of their increasingly cognisant boss. Director Kelly Reichardt takes her time to introduce us to the pair, and to let the story develop gently and entertainingly whilst still offering us a plausible glimpse of the harsh and tough living conditions experienced by these folks in search of everything from gold to land to, well, milk! It’s got quite a pleasingly complementary score from William Tyler and is certainly worth a watch – though it doesn’t need to be on a big screen.
  • badelf: For sure not a Hollywood film. This film is a beautifully executed character study about friendship.
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