That whining suck, Dustin Hoffman ruined this Western for me.
It is a really good movie. No fancy review here. If you want to see a good movie starring a young Dustin Hoffman, this is it.
An old man in a nursing home claims to be 121 years old and the only white survivor of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. He proceeds to tell his life story to a visitor. But is it really his life story or a series of really tall tales? Either way this movie tries to illuminate the injustices suffered by native americans in the wild west. And it does so in a very entertaning way as the main character alternates between living with Indians who raised him and living in "white" society. Ironically he feels like he's not truly accepted in either camp and therefore feels even stronger empathy for the injustice that his Indian "brothers' endure.
This is a good story with interesting plot twists that people would not expect.I think even though it is told from the point of view of the main character it sees the native American People as more than just "savages"(which I feel is a derogatory term) and even shows situations from their point of view.It hopefully can make people think more about how we all have to relate to this earth we live on.
One of my problems with the western genre is how Native Americans are generally depicted. There’s an innumerable amount of films set in the Old West where the heroes are attacked by a group of “savage” aboriginals. This was the pervading perspective in Hollywood. Over the years, western movies have become more rare, but also more kind and honest in their depiction of natives. But in 1970, Arthur Penn made Little Big Man, one of the first (if not the original) major motion pictures to not only avoid vilifying aboriginals, but to depict them as heroes. It’s an important film, representing an essential stepping stone in the progression of American cinema.
The film follows a white American boy, Jack Crabb, who’s raised by the Cheyenne natives. He grows to embrace their customs and lifestyle, until he’s accepted as one of them. However, after a brush with death in battle, he’s taken captive by U.S. cavalry officers who force him to abandon his tribe. He’s then placed under the wing of white folk who take pity on him, and try to indoctrinate him into their culture. The results are successful, but short-lived. Crabb discovers the hypocrisy and cruelty in his newfound society, and leaves to rejoin the Cheyenne tribe. Over the years, he fights alongside them and grows older as one of them.
The opening shot in Little Big Man is of Dustin Hoffman. His face is covered in makeup so he can take on the appearance of Crabb as a 121-year-old man. But it’s more than the extensive makeup that’s drenched across his face. His voice and delicate motions fully emulate those of an old man. He proceeds to narrate his story (the overuse of narration becomes somewhat aggravating at points) and we drift back in time to his youth. Hoffman also plays Crabb as a young man, and while there’s hardly a noticeable transformation in those scenes, the actor is still magnificent.
After being taken by the cavalry officers, he’s adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Pendrake, the latter of which is played by Faye Dunaway. She’s a lustful housewife, dissatisfied with her dull life and her husband’s irate disposition. She’s sees her newly adopted son as means of excitement in her life, and tries to seduce him. Being unaccustomed to sexuality, Crabb’s puzzled responses are amusing, as is Mrs. Pendrake persistence and dedication to her cause. Dunaway’s career is filled to the brink with hefty dramatic roles, which makes the display of her comedic ability in Little Big Man somewhat shocking.
But as delightful as Dunaway’s presence is, she’s hardly important to the film. Arthur Penn makes an attempt to stretch out her role by including a scene later in the movie where Crabb returns to visit her. The scene is unnecessary and seems out of character for Crabb. There are a few other segments in the film that have the same lack of purpose, such as a section where our protagonist becomes convinced he’s a mighty gunslinger and parades around cheap saloons in leather, wielding a pistol. Little Big Man could easily be tightened if twenty-five or so minutes were cut out.
It’s the story of a man who (as the tagline reads) “was either the most neglected hero in history or a liar of insane proportion”. But its significance outweighs its craftsmanship. The battle scenes are large in scale but clumsily choreographed. What I took away from Little Big Man was a reminder of Hoffman’s versatility as an actor and a message about the outlandishness of prejudice.
Director Arthur Penn made some good films. Two films are outstanding and share something in common. These two movies had Faye Dunaway in lead parts. The movies are "Bonnie and Clyde" and "Little Big Man". In the later, Dustin Hoffman plays his character at age 100 and goes back in flashbacks to the history of the west he experienced. Director Arthur Penn was excellent with his cinematography in both films. The scripts are well written and the crew all work together to make a masterpiece of film. It a shame that Faye Dunaway did not get more directors like Arthur Penn for their films. The right director for a script is so very important. In "Little Big Man" Arthur Penn delivers a fantastic western movie. See if you don't agree, and write your reaction here on the KCLS web site.
Based on the Thomas Berger novel, "Little Big Man" represented several important trends in the evolution of the western: more ambivalence towards violence, less heroism and myth-making, a greater identification with Indians (the stereotypical bad guys of so many classic westerns) and eccentric protagonists. Dustin Hoffman plays the sole survivor of Little Big Horn, a Candide-like innocent who relates his picaresque stories, which include living with the Cheyenne. The fine supporting cast includes Faye Dunaway, Martin Balsam, Chief Dan George and Richard Mulligan as a pompous, vain Gen. Custer. The mix of humor and darker material doesn't always work and it runs a little long, but it's well shot, deeply felt and was certainly a milestone in depicting Indians as real people, as well as some of the atrocities committed by the calvary. I think it was also the first movie to use the line "Today is a good day to die." No special features on this disc.
Every character is funny, definite classic.
Little Big Man ---- DVD - 2003 ---- Many years ago I watched this show/movie. It is a good one to re-watch a good while later. You will see much that was missed, like in any comedy show there is alot going on in the background. ---- Enjoy! ---- RichardPaul
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