Little Big Man (1970)

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    There are 2 replies in this Thread. The last Post () by dukefan1.

    • Little Big Man (1970)




      Plot Summary
      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

      Dustin Hoffman ... Jack Crabb
      Faye Dunaway ... Mrs. Pendrake
      Chief Dan George ... Old Lodge Skins
      Martin Balsam ... Mr. Merriweather
      Richard Mulligan ... Gen. George Armstrong Custer
      Jeff Corey ... Wild Bill Hickok
      Aimee Eccles ... Sunshine (as Amy Eccles)
      Kelly Jean Peters ... Olga Crabb
      Carole Androsky ... Caroline Crabb (as Carol Androsky)
      Robert Little Star ... Little Horse
      Cal Bellini ... Younger Bear
      Ruben Moreno ... Shadow That Comes in Sight
      Steve Shemayne ... Burns Red in the Sun
      William Hickey ... Historian
      James Anderson ... Sergeant
      Jesse Vint ... Lieutenant (as Jess Vint)
      Alan Oppenheimer ... Major
      Thayer David ... Rev. Silas Pendrake
      Philip Kenneally ... Mr. Kane - Drugstore Proprietor
      Jack Bannon ... Captain
      Ray Dimas ... Young Jack Crabb
      Alan Howard ... Adolescent Jack Crabb
      Jack Mullaney ... Card Player with Full House
      Steve Miranda ... Younger Bear as a Youth
      Lou Cutell ... Deacon
      M. Emmet Walsh ... Shotgun Guard
      Emily Cho ... Digging Bear
      Cecelia Kootenay ... Little Elk
      Linda Dyer ... Corn Woman
      Dessie Bad Bear ... Buffalo Wallow Woman
      Len George ... Crow Scout
      Norman Nathan ... Pawnee
      Helen Verbit ... Madame
      Bert Conway ... Bartender
      Earl Rosell ... Giant Trooper
      Ken Mayer ... Sergeant
      Bud Cokes ... Man at Bar
      Rory O'Brien ... Assassin
      Tracy Hotchner ... Flirting Girl
      and many more...

      Arthur Penn

      Writing Credits
      Thomas Berger ... (novel)
      Calder Willingham ... (screenplay)

      Gene Lasko ... associate producer
      Stuart Millar ... producer

      John Paul Hammond

      Harry Stradling Jr.

      In order to get the raspy voice of 121 year old Jack, Dustin Hoffman sat in his dressing room and screamed at the top of his lungs for an hour.

      Dustin Hoffman was put in The Guinness Book of World Records as "Greatest Age Span Portrayed By A Movie Actor" for portraying the character of Jack Crabb from age 17 to age 121.

      One of the few two-and-a-half hour films of that era to not be shown with an intermission.

      Little Big Man was the name of an actual historical figure. He was a Native American, an Oglala Lakota, who was a fearless and respected warrior who fought under, and was rivals with, Crazy Horse. He also fought at the Battle of Little Big Horn, a battle which is depicted in this film.

      The role of Old Lodge Skins was initially offered to Marlon Brando, who turned it down. Other sources claim Arthur Penn's first choice for the role was Laurence Olivier. When that didn't work out, Richard Boone was slated for the role. When Boone backed out at the last minute, Chief Dan George was given the part and earned an Oscar nomination.

      Although Dustin Hoffman plays the "younger" adopted son of Faye Dunaway's character in the film, he's actually four years older than Dunaway. Hoffman was born in 1937 while Dunaway was born in 1941.

      Old Lodge Skins' line "Today, is a good day to die," was adopted by the Star Trek Universe as a Klingons catchphrase.

      As acknowledged in the film, the self chosen names of many American native tribes simply translate as "the human beings," leading to inevitable difficulties in translating and interpreting certain sayings in their languages.

      Paul Scofield was considered for the role of Old Lodge Skins. Curiously, it was not until shortly before filming began that director Arthur Penn thought about using an actual Native American for this role - even though an important point made in Thomas Berger's original novel was that Caucasian actors are hardly ever convincing in such parts.

      The main tune played when the the 7th Cavalry were attacking on the Washita River and during the Battle of Little Big Horn is an Irish jig titled "Garry Owen". This song was the official song of the Seventh Cavalry of the U.S. Army - Lt. Col. Custer's cavalry. However, the music is actually a medley which consists of The Garry Owen and St. Patrick's Day.

      Stuntman Gary Combs lost an eye during production.

      Near the site of Custer's Last Stand, you will find a village named Garryowen, the name of the jig played by Custer's cavalry.

      When Merriweather is forced by the lynch mob to reveal the ingredients of his elixir, he includes oil of cloves. The same was used to alleviate Dustin Hoffman's pain following his torture in Marathon Man (1976).

      Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.

      Following the movie time line, Jack Crabbe should have been rescued from the Indians around 1865. When he enters his gunfighter period around 1866, Jack is carrying two 1873 Colt Peacemakers while Hickok's pistol is an 1882 Colt.

      When Jack first sees Mr. Merriweather, Merriweather is using a bass drum pedal. The first bass drum pedal was not patented until 1909 by William F. Ludwig.

      When Jack Crabb is shown drunk during a heavy rainstorm shots alternate back and forth from being on an overcast day to being ones in bright sunshine.

      When Shadow That Comes In Sight rescues young Jack and Caroline after their parents were killed, you can see Caroline put her foot up to a stirrup as she mounts the horse behind Shadow. When she dismounts it appears that Shadow, like most other Cheyennes, rides bareback.

      Factual errors
      When Jack and Olga are being photographed in front of their store the photographer removes the lens cap to expose the film and we see the image being taken reversed on camera glass. In reality the film holder would have blocked any view during the exposure.

      Many inaccuracies regarding the Battle of Little Big Horn are copied from They Died with Their Boots On:
      see goofs for that movie.

      George Armstrong Custer is shown wearing the two star rank insignia of a Major General, which was his brevet rank in the Civil War. But as a cavalry commander in the Indian Wars, he had reverted to his Regular Army rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and should been depicted wearing the silver oak leaves of that rank.

      During the Civil War, Custer was brevetted at various times to the ranks of Major General and Brigadier General. However, by the time of the Battle of Little Big Horn (well after the end of the Civil War), Custer's rank was reduced to Lt. Colonel. In the film, his uniform does not reflect this and the men incorrectly refer to him as "General Custer" prior to and during the battle.

      Incorrectly regarded as goofs
      ..or maybe not. If the movie is just a tall tale told by Jack Crabb, then most factual errors and anachronisms
      are simply the character's mistakes or quirks. However, since this is debatable, they are left on this list for your consideration.

      Revealing mistakes
      The wires forcing a horse to fall are visible in the final battle scene, just before Custer exclaims "Fools! They're shooting their own horses!"

      During the credits at the beginning of the movie, young Jack comes out of hiding and looks at a man's body, with an arrow sticking up out of it. The top of the arrow moves slowly as the "dead" man breathes.

      Custer's attack on the Cheyenne at the Washita River occurred in the winter of 1868. Since Wild Bill Hickok was shot in the summer of 1876, Jack's drunk period would have lasted about eight years. Also the Battle of Little Big Horn was on June 25, 1876; Hickok was killed August 2, 1876, more than one month later.

      In the saloon scene where Wild Bill Hickok is killed (1876),
      there is a Miller beer "Girl on the Moon" picture on the wall.
      Although Miller beer started operations in 1855, the "Girl on the Moon" advertising was first used in 1907 and it wasn't the same picture as the one in the movie.

      During the stagecoach battle, the body of the dead driver appears and disappears between shots.

      Factual errors
      In the film, Custer and many of his men are killed by arrows. By the time of the Battle of Little Big Horn, the Plains Indians realized that bows and arrows were obsolete, and the braves who wiped out Custer's command were armed with rifles, lances and tomahawks.

      When Wild Bill Hickok is gunned down, he lives long enough to have a conversation with Jack Crabb about the Widow. The shooter is apprehended immediately, claiming Hickok killed his father. In reality Hickok was killed instantly by Jack McCall, who ran away and was later found hiding in a local butcher shop. McCall's claim was that Hickok killed his brother not his father. The film also neglects to depict an important part of the Hickok mythos: he died holding two aces and two 8s, the origin of the proverbial "dead man's hand." And as noted elsewhere, Hickok's fall occurred AFTER Custer's Last Stand, not before it.

      Memorable Quotes

      Filming Locations
      Little Bighorn River, Montana, USA
      Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument - 756 Battlefield Tour Road, Crow Agency, Montana, USA
      Billings, Montana, USA
      CL Ranch - 45001 Township Road, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
      Crow Agency, Montana, USA
      Crow Indian Reservation, Montana, USA
      Alberta, Canada
      Calgary, Alberta, Canada
      Cheyenne Indian Reservation, Lame Deer, Montana, USA
      Hardin, Montana, USA
      Lame Deer, Montana, USA
      Montana, USA
      Morley, Alberta, Canada (winter)
      Nevada City, Montana, USA
      VA Hospital - 11301 Wilshire Blvd., Brentwood, Los Angeles, California, USA (modern bookend sequences)
      North Ranch, Lindero Canyon Road at Kanan Road, Agoura Hills, California, USA
      Thousand Oaks, California, USA
      Virginia City, Montana, USA

      Watch the Movie

      Best Wishes
      London- England

      The post was edited 2 times, last by ethanedwards ().

    • Little Big Man is a 1970 American western comedy-drama film directed by
      Arthur Penn and based on the novel Little Big Man by Thomas Berger.
      It is about a white male child raised by the Cheyenne nation during the 19th century.

      The film is largely concerned with contrasting the lives of American pioneers and Native Americans
      throughout the progression of the boy's life.

      The movie stars Dustin Hoffman, Chief Dan George, Faye Dunaway,
      Martin Balsam, Jeff Corey and Richard Mulligan.

      It is considered a Western, with Native Americans receiving a more sympathetic treatment
      and the United States Cavalry depicted as villains.

      Despite its satirical approach, the film has tragic elements and a clear social conscience
      about prejudice and injustice.
      Little Big Man is considered an example of anti-establishment films of the period,
      protesting America's involvement in the Vietnam War by portraying the U.S. military negatively.

      In 2014, Little Big Man was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant"
      by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

      Historical basis
      The historical Little Big Man was a Native American leader bearing no resemblance to the Jack Crabb character. Little Big Man is known for his involvement in the capture and possible assassination of Crazy Horse at Fort Robinson in 1877.

      The movie's portrayal of the Battle of Washita River as a Custer-led massacre of women and children (which Penn compares to the Holocaust) is not entirely accurate as the camp was partially occupied by tribal warriors. The film, however, is consistent with historical records of other encounters between Indians and the U.S. Cavalry; the Cavalry's common tactic was to wait until the warriors had left the camp to hunt, or to lure the warriors away with assurances of good hunting, and then to attack the unprotected village. The two massacre scenes are historically reversed, the Sand Creek massacre occurring first in 1864, where Colorado militia (not including Custer) attacked a peaceful contingent of Native Americans, killing more than 150 women, children and elderly men. (The Sand Creek Massacre was depicted in another 1970 Western, Soldier Blue.) The Custer-led raid on the Washita occurred in 1868.

      The film also presents an inaccurate representation of the death of Wild Bill Hickok. Hickok was actually killed after the Battle of the Little Bighorn on August 2, 1876, while playing poker at the No. 10 Saloon in Deadwood, South Dakota. Uncharacteristically, Hickok had his back turned to the door. At 4:15 p.m., a gunslinger named Jack McCall walked in and shot Hickok in the back of the head. Hickok was famously holding two pairs—of black aces and black eights—when he was shot, a set of cards thereafter called the "Dead Man's Hand".

      The film's depiction of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer as a lunatic at the Battle of the Little Bighorn was intended as satire, though many of his quirks and vanities were inspired by contemporary observations. Custer's fatal tactics at the Little Bighorn were far more complex than portrayed in the film, which portrays him as having a searing hatred of Indians and acting ruthlessly towards them in battle. In truth, while his actions before and during the battle remain controversial, some historians suggest that he was somewhat sympathetic to the cause of the Indian population and publicly opposed, to the detriment of his own career prospects, the Grant administration's policy of expansion into Indian lands.

      The character of Jack Crabb is partially based on Curley, one of Custer's Native American scouts from the Crow tribe. Curley rode with Custer's 7th Cavalry into the valley of the Little Bighorn, but was relieved of duty before the final attack, retreating to a nearby bluff and witnessing much of the action. Many conflicting stories of the era embellished Curley's participation, stating in several cases that he disguised himself with a Cheyenne blanket to escape the immediate field of battle. He was interviewed many times, with some writers claiming him to be the only surviving witness from the U.S. side of Custer's Last Stand. Curley gave several variations of his participation in the battle, and the accuracy of his later recollections has been questioned.

      To obtain the hoarse voice of a 121-year-old man, Hoffman sat in his dressing room and screamed at the top of his lungs for an hour. The makeup for the ancient Crabb was created by Dick Smith from foam latex and included revolutionary false eyelids that could blink along with the actor's. Due to editing, and much to Smith's chagrin, no blinks were visible in the finished film. Of the makeup, Hoffman was quoted in Life as saying, "I defy you to put on that makeup and not feel old".The role of Chief Old Lodge Skins was initially offered to Marlon Brando, Paul Scofield, and Laurence Olivier, all of whom turned it down. The Little Bighorn battle scenes were filmed on location at Crow Agency, Montana near the actual battle site. Some of the town scenes were filmed in Nevada City, Montana, a town that by 1970 consisted predominantly of historic 19th-century buildings brought from elsewhere in Montana. All outdoor Indian scenes other than the Little Bighorn battle were filmed near Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Some interior and various footage was shot on Hollywood sets. All Indian extras were North American Indians. Aimée Eccles, who played Sunshine, is actually of Chinese descent. And Cal Bellini, who played Younger Bear, is actually a Malay originally from Singapore.

      The old Indian chief dies at the end of the novel but not in the film. In an interview Arthur Penn explained the change: "We thought long and hard about this and in the first draft of the script he does die, but this death would have introduced an element of sadness into the film and we didn't want this. The film would have become dramatic, even melodramatic, instead of being picaresque. I also wanted to show that not only were the Indians going to be destroyed, but they were also condemned to live. On the whole, audiences like their entertainment dramatically compact and homogenous, but I want the opposite. A film should remain free and open, not with everything defined and resolved."

      Little Big Man received widespread acclaim from film critics. It is among AFI's 400 movies nominated to be on their list of America's greatest 100 movies. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 24 of 25 professional critics gave the film a positive review, with a rating average of 7.9/10; in total, the film has a 96% rating on the website.

      In his December 15, 1970 review, Vincent Canby of The New York Times called the movie, "Arthur Penn's most extravagant and ambitious movie, an attempt to capture the essence of the American heritage in the funny, bitter, uproarious adventures of Jack Crabb." Roger Ebert, of the Chicago Sun-Times, agreed, giving the film four stars out of four stars, and describing Little Big Man as "an endlessly entertaining attempt to spin an epic in the form of yarn."

      Awards and nominations
      Chief Dan George was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actor in a Supporting Role. He won many honors for his performance, including the Producers Guild of America Award, the National Society of Film Critics Award and the New York Film Critics Circle Award. He was also nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Supporting Actor.

      Hoffman won third place for his performance with the Producers Guild of America and was nominated as Best Actor by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. The screenplay by Calder Willingham was nominated for the Writers Guild of America Award as Best Drama Adapted from Another Medium.

      The film won a Special Mention at the 7th Moscow International Film Festival in 1971.

      In 2014, the film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

      Arthur Hiller's 1984 comedy-drama Teachers features Little Big Man cast member
      Richard Mulligan partially reprising his Custer role as Herbert Gower,
      an outpatient from a mental institution who is accidentally put in charge
      of a U.S. history class and teaches his pupils while impersonating historical figures such as Custer,
      but also Abe Lincoln and Ben Franklin amongst others

      User Review

      Sprawling comedy-western with memorable moments.
      14 November 2001 | by jckruize (North Hemis)

      JCK wrote:

      One of the greatest American films of the 70's, a long but enjoyable western epic told with verve and insight. Dustin Hoffman excels in one of his early film roles, throwing himself into its physical demands with obvious enthusiasm and in the process creating one of his most endearing characters.

      But he had to be on his toes in the face of much scene-stealing by a host of experts, including Richard Mulligan as the screwiest Custer you'll ever see, Martin Balsam as the eternally optimistic Mr. Merriweather, and Chief Dan George as Old Lodgeskins, a noble, wise and very funny Native American patriarch. This, along with "Bonnie and Clyde," represented the pinnacle of Arthur Penn's directing career: he handles the tonal shifts from comedy to tragedy with unerring control. Beautifully photographed and scored, with a wry, picaresque script by Calder Willingham from Thomas Berger's novel. Memorable images abound, from the rousing stagecoach chase, to an erotic bath delivered by the beauteous Faye Dunaway, to the horrific attack on a snowbound Indian village by the U.S. Cavalry, accompanied by a sprightly fife-and-drums march, to George's dignified ritual of death under threatening skies that doesn't quite turn out the way he planned. A funny, poignant tale, skillfully told, and a reminder of the fragility and randomness of life and love
      Best Wishes
      London- England

      The post was edited 2 times, last by ethanedwards ().

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