Review: ‘Little Big Man’

Little Big Man is a sort of vaudeville show, framed in fictional biography, loaded with sketches of varying degrees of serious and burlesque humor, and climaxed by the Indian victory over Gen George A. Custer at Little Big Horn in 1876.

Little Big Man is a sort of vaudeville show, framed in fictional biography, loaded with sketches of varying degrees of serious and burlesque humor, and climaxed by the Indian victory over Gen George A. Custer at Little Big Horn in 1876.

The story strand [from the novel by Thomas Berger] is Dustin Hoffman’s long life (he is over 120 at prolog and epilog brackets), especially his years as an adopted Indian who witnessed Custer’s megalomaniacal massacre attempt that backfired.

Might it be a serious attempt to right some unretrievable wrong via gallows humor which avoids the polemics? This seems to be the course taken; the attempt at least can be respected in theory.

Chief Dan George, is outstanding as an Indian chief who provides periodic inputs of philosophy. Faye Dunaway is first the preacher’s over-sexed wife, later a prostitute admired by Wild Bill Hickok, played well by Jeff Corey; and Martin Balsam is a swindling traveling beggar.

1970: Nomination: Best Supp. Actor (Chief Dan George)

Little Big Man

Production

Hiller-Stockbridge/Cinema Center. Director Arthur Penn; Producer Stuart Millar; Screenplay Calder Willingham; Camera Harry Stradling Jr; Editor Dede Allen; Music John Hammond; Art Director Dean Tavoularis

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1970. Running time: 147 MIN.

With

Dustin Hoffman Faye Dunaway Martin Balsam Richard Mulligan Chief Dan George Jeff Corey
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