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Little Big Horn
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Reviews & Ratings for
Little Big Horn More at IMDbPro »

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22 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Almost a "western-noir"

Author: frankfob from California
8 May 2002

Lippert Pictures was never, to put it mildly, known for its extravagant productions. Its budgets were minimal, the talent it used--both in front of and behind the camera--was usually second- or third-string, its product was churned out quickly and cheaply for the second- and third-run market. Every so often, though--almost in spite of itself--Lippert managed to turn out a top-notch film. Sam Fuller's "The Steel Helmet" and "The Baron of Arizona" were two, and this is a third. In fact, this looks like it could have been made by Fuller--it has the gritty edge that's typical of his films, and the issues of duty, honor and sacrifice that infused so many of Fuller's movies. Writer/director Charles Marquis Warren was a somewhat inconsistent filmmaker; he made some moody, tense, first-rate little westerns ("Hellgate," "Arrowhead") and some absolute crap ("Charro"). This is one of his best (so good, in fact, that he remade it--badly--in 1958 as "Desert Hell", changing the story from soldiers in the American west to Foreign Legionnaires in the Arabian desert). A small cavalry patrol stumbles upon a huge gathering of Indians about to ambush Custer's 7th Cavalry troopers. The only way to warn Custer's unit about the impending attack is for the patrol to ride directly through the hordes of Indians. There are no false heroics here, either; the officer in charge of the patrol knows that the action he must take will result in almost certain death for everyone in his small unit, but he also knows that if they don't warn Custer, it will result in certain death for Custer's entire command. He has no desire to die or to cause the death of his men--several of whom he doesn't even like--and he's torn between what he knows is his duty and his reluctance to order his men on what will almost certainly be a suicide mission. This is a tough little film, full of short, brutal--surprisingly so, considering the era in which it was made--action scenes where nobody dies prettily. It's a nail-biter and will have you on the edge of your seat. Tightly directed, sharply written, with a great supporting cast of veteran western actors, including Jim Davis, John Ireland, John Pickard, Reed Hadley and Wally Cassell. Do yourself a favor and don't miss this one.

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16 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Grim story of small band of cavalry trying to warn Custer

Author: bux from Tecumseh ok
8 October 1998

Perhaps the finest film to come from 'quickie' producer Lippert, this grim story of a band of calvary attempting to warn Custer holds up well after almost 50 years. Outstanding performances by a great supporting cast over-shadow what must have been a miniscule budget. Although the film claims to be based on a true incident, the curator of the Custer Battlefield Monument denies such an occurrence. Nonetheless, if you can find this one on video(not likely)or on the late show, it is well worth while.

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15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Meets the test of a classic

Author: drdyer from Los Angeles, California
11 March 2004

Saw this when it first came out and have seen it several time over the years. Still stands up and is worth watching.

The performances, story and production are tops and keep you glued to the screen through the entire movie.

The attention to detail of uniforms and other costumes is excellent, along with the horse handling.

It is well photographed and edited, with good lighting, especially the night scenes.

I haven't seen it in about 20 years, wish they would put it on television again.

Hope they at least bring it to my local video store.

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A Gem of a Saturday Matinée Horse Opera!

Author: MisterChandu from USA
8 December 2006

Writing and acting! Acting and writing! Like another great little "Custer" film "Bugles in the Afternoon!" starring Ray Milland (and LBH's Sheb Wooley playing Custer!), the acting and dialog in this Cavalry classic is top notch. Everything just clicks making this film look as good as any classic Western with a much bigger budget.

The soundtrack is interesting. The "On the Little Big Horn! 1876!" sung by a chorus rings out loud and clear in the opening credits and sets the mood for the story. Must have been a thrill to the Saturday matinée kid cowboy crowd. It certainly adds to "larger than life" mood of this film.

The writers, by setting up this film with the well known history of the Custer defeat (or is it the Native American victory) at the Little Big Horn as a backdrop, helps make your imagination do what the well spent but inexpensive budget doesn't! (It is almost like a radio play in that way.) With the descriptions of sighting of thousands of Souix by the patrols in this film, you feel the intensity and importance of the mission. Also the suspense created by knowing there are a lot of Indians out there and the "Heart of Darkness" atmosphere as the troop advances further and further into Indian territory gives the ambushes that happen the right kind of life and death dynamic.

The story line is not that improbable. Gen. Crook, who had met in the Battle of the Rosebud just some of the Souix that would engage Custer a week or so later, did think of continuing with what was left of his command or some troopers to Custer and Terry to inform them of what happened. It didn't happen however. Still, the mission of trying to deliver a message at all costs to Custer gives this film the needed dynamic it requires.

Major or soon to be major actors give performances here that both their earlier and later "high budget" careers only enhance. The leads Lloyd Bridges (High Noon!, Sea Hunt, Hot Shots) and John Ireland (Red River, Spartacus, A Walk in the Sun) and supporting actors like the memorable King Donavan (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), the good spirited Wally Cassell (Sands of Iwo Jima), Jim Davis (Dallas!), newcomer Hugh O'Brien (TV's Wyatt Earp), Mr. beautiful baritone Reed Hadley, known for his narrations of Hollywood films (Guadalcanal Diary) and those Atomic Bomb documentaries by the US government plus all the rest of this ensemble do an outstanding job.

Bridges and Ireland are perfect as the hard nosed commander and the sympathetic Lt. always in conflict with each other. The film moves along without any real slow spots. It has good cinematography.

It has good production values and the good writing that make it seem like a bigger film than it really is. It has that "film noir" mood that never would have worked as well in color either. It is really a western that stimulates your imagination!

Many Kudos for this classic!

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Outstanding Film

Author: pjf1205 from Staten Island, New York
8 January 2004

Viewed "Little Big Horn" tonight for the first time in over 40 years. Growing up in New York in the late 1950's and early sixties the movie stations to watch were Channel 9 (WOR) an Channel 11 (WPIX). Seems like after baseball or basketball practice or on weekends there was always a movie to watch on one of these stations.I remember quite well those which we always talked about the next day and would watch over and over. "Little Big Horn" was one that we watched over and over. Others were Yankee Doodle Dandy", "The Steel Helmet", and "The Great John L". Never understood then why we enjoyed these movies but we did. Watching "Little Big Horn" tonight told me why. A great story line and outstanding acting, pure and simple.Each character is developed and the story line never fails to surprise although the final outcome is known by every student of history. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie as much as I did 40 years ago except that I now have an understanding of why this particular movie has stood the test of time. Highly Recommended!

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12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

More than just western drama

Author: peanut356 from Picciyunne Ga.
20 November 1999

This is the story of a small band of cavalry, out to warn General Custer of the tremendous number of indians arrayed against him. While it offers fine drama and action there is much more going on here--Duty, Honor, Country: and how each man in the patrol comes to grips with his responsibility as a soldier. This should be MUST viewing for anyone contemplating enlistment in the Army!

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Gritty Realism

Author: Art La Cues from Independence, CA USA
20 January 2002

"Little Big Horn" is a classic western with outstanding performances from the entire cast. There is no glorification of the calvary company's struggle with the Indians. Each character has a personal story and motivation for his actions. In the end the decimated unit realizes that their sacrifice is necessary to attempt to achieve the greater good. It is a shame that this movie is not readily available. I recently purchased a copy through Belle and Blade Videos. Lloyd Bridges, John Ireland, Reed Hadley, et al were never better. A "must see."

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Great Low-Budget Western

Author: GManfred from Ramsey, NJ
28 September 2010

Ever watch a movie that was so good you wished it would never end? That's the feeling when watching "Little Big Horn", an unheralded, unheard of (at least by me),old fashioned, Cowboys-and-Indians movie that Hollywood used to turn out by the Conestoga wagon-full. But this one is more suspenseful and well-acted, the characters more developed and the storyline just plain better than most oaters. This is a western with an edge.

Others have outlined the plot in reviews above, but rarely did LLoyd Bridges, John Ireland and Marie Windsor (the quintessential femme fatale in a cameo) get roles they could sink their teeth into as those found in "Little Big Horn". The realistic atmosphere here rivals that found in some of Hollywood's greatest achievements, for example "Treasure of The Sierra Madre" or "Paths of Glory", made on much bigger budgets. If you are a fan of Hollywood movies, when movies were movies, try not to miss this one. It's available on Amazon now and it's a bargain.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

fantastic , suspenseful, heroic

Author: spanishmick from United States
20 January 2008

I haven't seen this film in over 40 years but I still remember it as if I saw it yesterday. I only wish I had a copy of it so I could enjoy viewing it over and over again. The stars , all gave great believable performances. The two leading men,Llyod Bridges and John Ireland both give strong portrayals and force you to wish both men would be saved from their fates. All lesser characters similarly make you concerned for their safety and well being. I especially think of Hugh O'Brien Pre Wyatt Earp T.V. star , who played the gambler who became a hero. This film has always been one of my favorites and I recommend it to anyone who is a film buff of any magnitude ,who wants to see how films should be made

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Superior Under-appreciated Western!

Author: ( from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
18 February 2007

When one looks at lists of all time great westerns, its not likely that you'll see "Little Big Horn" among them. It is nonetheless worthy of greater appreciation. Produced by the small independent Lippert Company and directed by first time director Charles Marquis Warren, it has a riveting storyline and contains some great performances.

Captain Phil Donlin (Lloyd Bridges) returns home from a patrol to find his wife Celie (Marie Windsor) in the arms of fellow officer Lieutenant John Haywood (John Ireland). Donlin accepts his fate (for the moment) and leaves on a three week patrol. On patrol, Donlin learns of the impending ambush of Colonel George Custer and his men at Little Big Horn. Still distraught over his wife's unfaithfulness, he decides to embark on a three day 250 mile journey to warn Custer of the oncoming attack.

Haywood meanwhile, has been ordered to call in all patrols from the field due to the Sioux threat. When he reaches Donlin's patrol, Donlin decides to "take the long way around" in obeying his superior's orders to return to the fort. As a measure of revenge, orders Haywood to accompany him on his suicide mission. Haywood decides to prove that he is a worthy soldier and not let the love triangle interfere with his duties.

One by one the patrol are being killed off by the Sioux as they press on toward their objective. The tension grows between Donlin and Haywood until the two finally come to blows. And then...............

Bridges, in one of his rare starring parts is excellent as the leader of the patrol. Ireland as well, stands out among the cast of familiar western movie faces. Reed Hadley plays S/Sgt. Grierson a former officer who had been a Major in the Civil War, Jim Davis as Cpl. Moylan, Hugh O'Brian as the card playing Pvt. DeWalt, Wally Cassell as Pvt. Zecca who is in and out of trouble, Sheb Wooley as the scout, Quince, Rodd Redwing and King Donovan and John Pickard as other members of the patrol.

Given the historical events of the Little Big Horn, the ending of the story is fairly obvious, but nevertheless, you'll find yourself rooting for the patrol that they will somehow achieve their objective.

Probably the best film to ever come from Lippert.

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