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Little Big Man

Little Big Man
(directed by Arthur Penn, 1970)

*** The Great Spirit told Mark F to tell me to watch this. ***

Little Big Man scared me half to death when it began because I thought the old, scary Grandpa from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) had been cast in this movie. It was actually, I guess, Dustin Hoffman in a ton of makeup portraying his character, Jack Crabb, AKA "Little Big Man", at 121 years old and it is here that he begins recounting his life to a historian.

Following the death of his parents from a wagon train massacre, young Jack and his sister Caroline are found and saved by a Cheyenne Indian and taken back to their village. Caroline fears rape, but alas, it takes the Indians awhile to figure out she's a woman because she's so damned ugly. She escapes them anyway and later we meet up with her again when she's turned into a possible lesbian gunslinger. But Jack gets raised by the Cheyenne Indians and becomes one of them. He gets especially close to the leader, whom he calls Grandfather, and this character follows him throughout the whole movie, although Jack doesn't always hang out with the Indians. Things happen and at times he's getting bathed by Faye Dunaway as Louise Pendry, or he's acting tough with Wild Bill Hickok, or he's traveling around with a snake oil salesman or he's working for General George Armstrong Custer, who becomes a big enemy of his.

The real heart and soul of the movie, though, is with the Cheyenne Indians and it is especially brought to life thanks to the Grandfather character, played by Chief Dan George. I tell ya, this movie made me hate white people. Yes -- and I am white myself. I turned racist against my own people. We are so bad. We kill and kill and kill. We don't believe anything is alive. We want everything dead. That's what Grandfather says and lemme tell ya, I believe Grandfather.

The Cheyenne Indians were also funny because they practice polygamy and they are very accepting of flamboyantly gay Indians among them -- which didn't surprise me, I remember hearing about that in Transamerica. There's a great scene in which Dustin Hoffman goes from Indian Woman to Indian Woman to impregnate them since the white man had killed their kids from other men. We get to see Dustin Hoffman's ass while he's dressed in Indian clothes -- I got a new fantasy out of that scene.

But let's get down to business - what did I really think of it? Well, I thought it was a spellbinding movie. Although, there were times when the spell almost slipped -- but things soon picked up. The first hour of the movie had my least favorite parts -- mainly when Little Big Man was living in the white world and having all kinds of crazy experiences there, like marrying a fussy Swedish woman named Olga that likes sleeping. The second hour of the movie was a lot better and really sealed the deal for the rating I will bestow upon this movie:

The Cheyenne Indian scenes really gave this movie a lot of power. I'm glad they weren't underused, I'm glad he kept finding them and I'm glad they didn't kill off Grandfather early and that he managed to stick around for the whole film. This is a very amusing and very heartfelt film and Dustin Hoffman does some terrific acting, as usual. I had never heard of this film before until recently and I'm glad that Mark F recommended it to me -- too bad the movie I gave him to watch is gonna give him nightmares. But, what can you do? We live for The Great Spirit.