Little Big Man
Little Big Man
PG-13 | 23 December 1970 (USA)
Little Big Man Trailers

Jack Crabb, looking back from extreme old age, tells of his life being raised by Indians and fighting with General Custer.

Reviews
CrawlerChunky

In truth, there is barely enough story here to make a film.

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Mathilde the Guild

Although I seem to have had higher expectations than I thought, the movie is super entertaining.

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Guillelmina

The film's masterful storytelling did its job. The message was clear. No need to overdo.

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Geraldine

The story, direction, characters, and writing/dialogue is akin to taking a tranquilizer shot to the neck, but everything else was so well done.

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rdoyle29

Arthur Penn had a great run of films starting with "Bonnie and Clyde" and (arguably) ending with "Night Moves" that all seem to deal with the abject failure of the American ideal and it's institutions. Dustin Hoffman stars as the oldest survivor of the Battle of Little Big Horn (in incredible old age make up by Dick Smith) who tells William Hickey his life story. Hoffman is adopted by the Cheyenne and raised as one of them after his family is killed in an attack by the Pawnee. He eventually rejoins white society and has a series of adventures mostly highlighted by the meanness and hypocrisy of everyone he meets. This culminates in him witnessing the (deserved) massacre of Custer's troops at Little Big Horn. This isn't Penn's best film, but it's one of the best films of it's era that uses the conventions of the Western to comment on the unrest in current society, especially about the war in Vietnam. It has a magnificent supporting cast highlighted by Richard Mulligan's bravura portrayal of Custer as an egomaniac.

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alecvv

One of the best movies and westerns of the 70's and if not for all time. Little Big Man has a slow and dull beginning but it soon emerges into a souring hawk. The movie however cannot completely be described as a western, it might take place in a western time, but it certainly does not build itself up around the usual western motifs. The conflicting sides the main character is thrown into makes for a good solid plot. There are issues that come up in terms of cinematography and overextending scenes but the movie redeems itself through the story, which is both creative and captivating. Overall a great movie that definitely took me by surprise.

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JT-Kirk

I can see why some folks won't like this film: it has a tone that is incredibly uneven, at different times diving deeply into very funny comedy and utterly tragic drama; it has an utterly unforgiving sense of violence and death; it doesn't pull any punches with the concept of the destruction of the Native Americans by the "white man"; and it's exceptionally long. If someone doesn't engage with the material on a strong level, they're going to feel every second dragging on them. Yet at two and a half hours, I found myself wanting a little more of the character's story, no matter how mundane or even more tragic it would become.Dustin Hoffman - even while donning heavy makeup, red-face, and a settler's accent - is incredibly engaging and mastering his craft with the zeal of a man knowing his own limits and stepping directly to them without hesitation. He embodies the comedy aspects with ease, yet never fully letting up of the layered nuance of the character within. And he's not alone, the majority of roles both big and small don't let the audience down, the director and the casting work on this film deliver a very complete story.The film's story is itself an interesting one, an aged man telling very personal tales of growing up on the frontier under incredibly challenging and varied circumstances, some of them historically famous. The character of Jack Crabb is a bit passive at times, observing the mania of the frontier from the perspective of both sides, having been born a white man but raised during puberty as a Cheyenne, then ping-ponging back and forth over and over between those worlds. Jack Crabb, also known as "Little Big Man", eventually comes to witness and suffer at the hands of George Custer, which becomes a greater and greater focus as the film shifts more of its focus from comedic to dramatic. Yet there's also a sense of letting go in this man's life, he has seen great and terrible things, he has had hope and hate, but he continues on. How he gets from the end of the story to his place at 121 years old is not told though, and that I would have liked to have seen at least a little of how he got from that life to the modern one, and what toll that took watching as the worlds he came from changed drastically around him. It might be easy to view Crabb's tale as a yarn spun by an old man wanting attention, there are elements lightly suggesting that possibility, yet Hoffman's acting tells a silent tale that maybe it's all real, and that right there is movie magic.Little Big Man isn't a movie that has only one character though, so throughout the story we meet characters once, twice, or many more times that all have their own story arcs, their own personalities -- some are for laughs, some are considerably more nuanced, and some are downright tragic. The film is rich with characters and consequences and flaws. Choosing to tell a story of the white man and the native man's interactions from a perspective that only very recently has become accepted is a strong choice and one that not every audience member can probably accept even today.The movie also sounds and looks great, shot on location in a wide format and filling each shot without overstuffing it. I'd like to say more, but the truth is that the production felt so right that it did its job perfectly - it told the story without being distracting. I also applaud the choice to have the Native American characters speak in their tongue but we hear English, this is after all a tale being told, not a cinematic attempt at an authentic recreation of Cheyenne life, otherwise half the film would be in another language and it just wouldn't have worked as well. This truly is a film of the '70s, having one foot in the cinematic movie-making of the past and the brutal honesty of that present.So while I think this movie was fantastic, I suppose I cannot recommend Little Big Man to everybody. It is a very good film and yet it will be a challenging film for some; it doesn't ask a lot of its audience but not every audience will be able to embrace the material. There are a lot of great performances including and beyond Dustin Hoffman, and production is rock solid, yet it doesn't quite fit in the world of comedy or drama, and Little Big Man runs too long for the impatient. But the rewards for those who find this film are significant.

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gavin6942

Jack Crabb (Dustin Hoffman), looking back from extreme old age, tells of his life being raised by Indians and fighting with General Custer.This film starts off strong with a relative young William Hickey. Unfortunately, Hickey quickly fades away and is forgotten. Why could he not have been a bigger part of this story? But that personal bias aside, this is a solid film. I am not a big fan of the western genre, but this is not your typical western. Rather than good guys or bad guys, it is one man's story growing up with the Indians before later encounters with George Custer. Apparently this story is based (more or less) on a real story.

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