Little Big Man (1970) – 4/5


Strange, often goofy film with an interesting story that doesn’t always mesh together quite as well as it should but is nonetheless a consistently entertaining and unique take on the genre, whatever that may be. Comedy? Western? Romance? Historical piece? Who knows. The film does feel like a sitcom at times, though, which takes away from some of the more serious elements in the latter half of the story, but the unusual hybrid nature of it all still works somehow, mostly, in its own strange way.

The film is hard to take seriously sometimes, especially in the first half where it’s almost nonstop slapstick goofball comedy. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it certainly feels a lot goofier than it should given the setup at the beginning. Then about half way through there’s a sudden jolt into some dark, disturbing territory that’s still sort of treated in a humorous manner, to the point where you don’t know whether to cry in anger at the inhumanity of it all or laugh at the rather light nature in which it’s presented. Very odd.The tone, direction, and writing are completely off if examined separately, but somehow, when examined together, a pretty good film emerges. It’s a miracle of cinema if ever I saw one.  See, there are film gods, and this movie is proof of it. The acting is pretty decent all around too, though Faye Dunaway is particularly great in her role, and somewhat pretty in an artificial living doll kind of way.

Overall, I enjoyed the film. The wonky tone might be unappealing for some, and the film doesn’t always work narratively, but it’s entertaining and unusual and funny, and quite sexual at times; not at all what you’d expect from something that starts the way that it does. The ending though felt very anti-climatic: it just ends, no major resolution or wrap up or anything. One minute it’s going strong, the next it’s over. Another odd, odd touch. But, it’s worth a watch, I think, especially if you’re in the mood for something new. Recommended.



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