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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Little Big Man (1970)


This Western Has It All

Advertised as a comedy when originally released, LITTLE BIG MAN is much, much more than that. Director Arthur Penn's sweeping film depicting the clash of the Indian and white cultures will have you chuckling one moment, then shaking your head sadly at man's inhumanity to man the next.

Dustin Hoffman as the ever industrious Jack Crabb takes this movie on his shoulders and carries it superbly. To say that the actor shows some "range" in this role is the epitome of an understatement: from portraying an adolescent teenager to a fragile 121-year-old-man (phenomenal makeup job), from snake-oil salesman to mule skinner, Hoffman brings Jack's fascinating life to splendorous glory. And Hoffman is funny--darn funny--with a wonderful knack for physical comedy.

In addition to Hoffman, LITTLE BIG MAN offers other savory treats. Richard Mulligan is absolutely delightful as a narcissistic General George Armstrong Custer--the stunning Faye Dunaway positively wicked as naughty Mrs. Pendrake. Chief Dan George, who portrays Old Lodge Skins, Jack's adopted Cheyenne grandfather, delivers countless one-liners, yet lends a quiet, heartfelt dignity to his role. In fact, this is a movie one will wish to savor again and again--a beautifully crafted, well-made film that is timeless in its ability to entertain. --D. Mikels

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