Little Big Man (1970) - Rotten Tomatoes

Little Big Man (1970)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Many historical events of the Old West are recalled a century later by the 121-year-old Jack Crabb (Dustin Hoffman) in this classic western drama comedy. When he is ten, Jack and his sister are the only survivors of a Cheyenne Indian attack that kills their parents. Dubbed "Little Big Man," he becomes a member of the tribe for six years before being taken in by the Reverend Pendrake (Thayer David) and his lusty, unfaithful wife (Faye Dunaway). Jack later joins up with a snake oil salesman (Martin Balsam), who becomes the victim of wrath of his unfortunate clients. After witnessing the murder of Wild Bill Hickock, Jack abandons his goal to become a famous gunfighter. He becomes a guide for George Armstrong Custer (Richard Mulligan), and witnesses the massacre at Litttle Big Horn with his adopted Indian father (Chief Dan George). Jack is saved by an Indian brave who owed his life to him, but the native American is plagued by a harridan wife. The plus sized Swedish woman had been married to Jack before she was captured and quickly dominates the life of the unfortunate Younger Bear (Cal Bellini). Robert Little Star provides comic relief as a effeminate Cheyenne. Chief Dan George won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Crabb recalls his past life from a nursing home to a wide eyed reporter. Dick Smith and Terry Miles showed exceptional expertise in make up for all the characters, particularly to make Hoffman look like a 121 year old man. Although historical accuracy of many event depicted is stretched if not shattered into revisionism, Little Big Man has endured to become a classic and depicted native Americans as human beings.more
Rating: PG (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Western, Action & Adventure, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Calder Willingham
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 29, 2003
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment


Dustin Hoffman
as Jack Crabb
Chief Dan George
as Old Lodge Skins
Faye Dunaway
as Mrs. Pendrake
Martin Balsam
as Merriweather
Richard Mulligan
as Gen. George Custer
Jeff Corey
as Wild Bill Hickok
Amy Eccles
as Sunshine
Robert Little Star
as Little Horse
Cal Bellini
as Younger Bear
Ruben Moreno
as Shadow That Comes in...
Steve Shemayne
as Burns Red In The Sun
William Hickey
as Historian
Jesse Vint
as Lieutenant
Thayer David
as Rev. Silas Pendrake
Aimee Eccles
as Sunshine
Jack Bannon
as Captain
Ray Dimas
as Young Jack Crabb
Alan Howard
as Adolescent Jack Crab...
Jack Mullaney
as Card Player
Steve Miranda
as Younger Bear as a Ch...
Lou Cutell
as Deacon
M. Emmet Walsh
as Shotgun Guard
Emily Cho
as Digging Bear
Cecelia Kootenay
as Little Elk
Linda Dyer
as Corn Woman
Leonard George
as Crow Scout
Bert Conway
as Bartender
Earl Rosell
as Giant Troop
Ken Mayer
as Sergeant
Bud Cokes
as Man at Bar
Rory O'Brien
as Assassin
Tracy Hotchner
as Flirtatious Girl
Don Brodie
as Stage Passenger
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Little Big Man

Critic Reviews for Little Big Man

All Critics (28) | Top Critics (5)

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.

Full Review… | June 11, 2008
Top Critic

An endlessly entertaining attempt to spin an epic in the form of a yarn.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Arthur Penn offers a new take of the culture clash between the White men and Native Americans in this revisionist. satirical, tone-shifting Western starring Dustin Hoffman and Faye Dunaway.

Full Review… | September 30, 2010

Penn seems to have little feel for the Western genre, but despite that the amazing thing is that this mock epic Western came out as well as it did.

Full Review… | April 21, 2008
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

This outraged reconfiguration of an all-American genre may be set in the Wild West, but it's also very much a bulletin of its time.

Full Review… | August 30, 2003

Easily one of the most entertaining (and presently overlooked) Westerns of the early 1970s.

Full Review… | August 26, 2003

Audience Reviews for Little Big Man

Historical revisionism at some of it's finest (and most stinging).

Based on a satirical novel, this is a bleakly dark dramedy/western about a 110 year-old man named Jack Crabb who tells his life story to a misguided 20th Century historian.

Crabb is a white man who was raised by Native Americans from a young age. He grows accustomed to their humane, enlightened way of life, but eventually strikes out on his own to see the world. He gets involved in many notable historical events (a concept later revisited in Forrest Gump), mostly involving Custer, the white conquest of the west, and the dark side of American imperialism. It's not always a pretty sight, but it definitely rings true.

This is a great movie, and definitely one of those times where I'm surprised (but happy), that it was a mainstream affair. It definitely fits into the scholarly movement going on at the time where revisionism was going strong, shedding light into events from previously ignored perspectives, and presenting a more balanced view of history.

The cinematography is excellent, the direction is strong, the ambitions and goals noble, and the performances excellent. Hoffman delivers a wonderful turn here, and it's easily one of his best, even though it is sadly overlooked a lot of the time. The dark, quirky humor balances out with the material nicely, and this is a really eye opening film.

Please give this one a look. It's not only a gem of the 70s, but a really important masterpiece of cinema in general.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer


The last survivor of the battle of Little Big Horn reminisces about his life in this off beat comic western starring Dustin Hoffman. The film obviously belongs to Hoffman himself as the entire story revolves around him and his life and he's an engagingly bemused anti-hero as he witnesses the atrocities and hypocrisies of the changing face of the old west, but what gives it real character is the supporting cast of oddballs who flit in and out of his sphere. These include yet another hilarious and charming performance from Chief Dan George as his adopted grandfather, a smouldering Faye Dunaway as the western equivalent of Mrs. Robinson and Richard Mulligan who plays Custer as a self-obsessed, pompous boob. It's very much a film of its time, sharing much of the flavour of anti-establishment fiction of the era and employs sly wit and gentle humour rather than the sentimentality and melodrama of the likes of Dances With Wolves in its depiction of the appalling mistreatment of the Native American population. One of the strangest westerns you'll ever see certainly, as well as one of the most interesting and fun.

xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

one of the more unusual westerns ever made and one of my favorite films as a kid. starring dustin hoffman as a supposedly 121 yr old man, the only white survivor of the battle of the little big horn. ranging from black comedy to drama to slapstick and back, it's a highly entertaining picaresque and also one of the first films to address native american rights in any way. a bit dated now and i think dustin is probably miscast (his accent is particularly bad) but i still love it. and chief dan george is awesome! <3

Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

Little Big Man Quotes

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– Submitted by Geoff B (3 years ago)

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