Sunday, Sep 2020
Director: Arthur Penn
Screenwriters: Calder Willingham from Thomas Berger's novel
Length: 1970
Released: 150 mins.

little big man 1970 film posterDustin Hoffman is Jack Crabb the 121 year old survivor of the old west. Crabb tells the story of his life and in so doing retells several legends of the West. Crabb oscillates between living with the Cheyenne and with the Whites. With these changes, the movie itself oscillates between seriousness and spoof. It is at its must ridiculous during Crabbe's stint as a gunfighter. He is the Soda Pop Kid. A spangly mockery of a hired gun. There is also the homo Indian who is a stereotypical 20th century gay persona pasted on a 19th century Indian. The gag is worth a few chuckles. One Indian that shines in this movie is Chief Dan George. He is the wise elder who sees spiritual meaning in his surroundings. When a young Crabb asks him why the white man kills women and children the chief responds, "Because they are strange. They do not know where the center of the earth is".

Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill, and George Custer are in included in the movie. They add a bit of embellished history and make Crabb's life all the fuller.

At times, Little Big Man is deadly serious as it showcases inhuman violence against Indian peoples. Most of these sequences involve troops led by General Custer. He is portrayed as being insane. In sum, the movie succeeds at contrasting the lifestyles of Indians and Whites. The movie definitely presents the Indians as a more honorable and trustworthy people than the Whites. But that is not to say that it doesn't poke fun at the Indians. Early in the film, as Crabb is being taken to the Tribe, he ponders; "At first site of an Indian camp, what you think is, I see their dump, where's the camp".

Little Big Man is a good film with many fine scenes and wonderful cinematography. If it were not for the many wacky characters (who add much entertainment value) this film would be a Must See. But alas, its occasional lapses into parody necessitate calling it Camp. Good Camp.

Cast:

  • Dustin Hoffman ...Jack Crabb
  • Faye Dunaway ... Mrs. Pendrake
  • Chief Dan George ... Old Lodge Skins
  • Martin Balsam ... Mr. Merriweather
  • Richard Mulligan ... General George Armstrong Custer
  • Jeff Corey ... Wild Bill Hickok
  • Aimée Eccles ... Sunshine
  • Kelly Jean Peters ... Olga Crabb
  • Carole Androsky... Caroline Crabb, Jack's sister
  • Robert Little Star ... Little Horse
  • Cal Bellini ... Younger Bear
  • Ruben Moreno ... Shadow That Comes In Sight
  • Steve Shemayne ... Burns Red In The Sun
  • William Hickey ... Historian
  • James Anderson ... Sergeant
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