Jack Crabb is 121 years old as the film begins. A collector of oral histories asks him about his past. He recounts being captured and raised by indians, becoming a gunslinger, marrying an indian, watching her killed by General George Armstrong Custer, and becoming a scout for him at Little Big Horn.Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
With its negative portrayal of the U.S. Cavalry, this was seen by many as a sharp allegory about America's involvement in Vietnam which, at the time, was rapidly souring at home. See more »
When Jack meets Mr. Merriweather late in the movie, Mr. Merriweather has lost his right leg. As he is limping away after their encounter, the outline of his right foot is visible through the back of his duster. See more »
I am, beyond a doubt, the last of the old-timers. My name is Jack Crabb. And I am the sole white survivor of the Battle of Little Big Horn, uh, uh, popularly known as Custer's Last Stand.
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My parents purchased a VHS copy of Little Big Man for me when I was 14 and, because it was a western, I didn't touch it for two years, in spite of their belief in its greatness. When I finally watched the film, I was astounded to find a film that was funny, angry, violent, and moving simultaneously. It turned out that my parents were, in fact, correct. Little Big Man was great.
I've gone back to the movie several times since that first viewing and it continues to entertain and affect; for me, a film that has emotional resonance well after the first viewing is rare and, though it does not always point to greatness, it often does.
Every element of the film is fantastic. The acting, by Hoffman and Dan George in particular, is amazing, as is Penn's direction. The story picaresque and always fascinating. There simply is no weak component to this movie.
I must also commend the film as a literary adaptation. I am not the most supportive critic of the Thomas Berger novel upon which the film is based. I find its thematics confused; it cannot decide whether or not it wants to revise western mythology or further it and, in that way, it fails for me. Calder Willingham's adaptation removes the ambivalence inherent in the novel and thereby writes one of the first and greatest revisionist Hollywood Westerns.
Little Big Man is a great movie, as I have said, and it deserves much more notoriety than it receives. This is, I fear, a film that too few people of my generation know. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it as an excellent and entertaining way to spend a couple of hours.
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