Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Little Big Man (1970)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Little Big Man (1970)

In Arthur Penn's revisionist, Forrest Gump-like serio-comic western epic based upon Thomas Berger's best-selling novel, a fancifully-told flashback tale:

  • the opening scene, introducing the character of 121 year-old Jack Crabb (Dustin Hoffman with Terry Miles' incredible makeup) - the only white survivor of Custer's Last Stand in 1876 at Little Big Horn, who recalled his tall-tale epic exploits in the West to a skeptical historian-interviewer (William Hickey) - about how he was raised by the Cheyenne Indians (who called themselves "Human Beings") and wise tribal chief Old Lodge Skins (Oscar-nominated Chief Dan George), and eventually acquired the nickname "Little Big Man": ("I am, beyond a doubt, the last of the old-timers. My name is Jack Crabb. And I am the sole white survivor of the Battle of Little Big Horn, uh, uh, popularly known as Custer's Last Stand...")
  • the moving speech of Old Lodge Skins to Little Big Man/Jack Crabb, as he held up a white man's scalp, about the difference in beliefs between the White Man and the "Human Beings" (their Indian tribe), after being asked if he hated the White Man: ("Do you see this fine thing? Do you admire the humanity of it? Because the Human Beings, my son, they believe everything is alive. Not only man and animals, but also water, earth, stone. And also the things from them like that hair. The man from whom this hair came, he's bald on the other side, because I now own his scalp! That is the way things are. But the white man, they believe everything is dead. Stone, earth, animals, and people! Even their own people! If things keep trying to live, white man will rub them out. That is the difference")
Old Lodge Skins with Scalp
  • the scene in 1865 when 16 year-old Jack was assaulted by a US cavalry trooper and almost killed, but convinced the murderous soldier that he was 'white' in order to be saved: ("Shooting rifles against bow and arrow. I never could understand how the white world could be so proud of winning with them kind of odds. 'God bless George Washington!' Before I knowed it, them words just popped out of my mouth. 'God bless my mother!' You murderin' fool! Got to cut your throat to get it through your head I'm a white man...Sure I'm white. Didn't you hear me say: 'God bless George Washington'? 'God bless my mother'? I mean, now, what kind of Indian would say a fool thing like that?")
  • and later as a teenager, Jack's raising by puritanical Reverend Silas Pendrake (Thayer David), taken in for "moral guidance and a Christian upbringing" although he was immediately seduced by Pendrake's sex-obsessed young wife Louise (Faye Dunaway), who gave young Jack a bath while singing the gospel song: "Shall We Gather at the River" and delivering "religious instruction"; he recalled it as the "greatest bath I ever had in my life": ("Poor boy. He hasn't even had a proper bath. His darling neck is so... I detect the odor of food. I shall wash this poor, dirty boy...Silas, it is my Christian duty to give this boy an immediate thorough bath. Take off your clothes, dear...E- Every stitch. But I shall avert my eyes at the necessary moment..."); as she stroked his leg and excited him, she simultaneously asked: ("Are you thinking of Jesus, Jack?"); and after the bath was completed, she personally toweled him dry: ("All right now, dear, please stand up and let me dry you off. I shall avert my eyes, of course. Fine, now step out of the tub - and - actually, you are rather well grown, Jack. You're small but nice-looking. Did you know that?...The girls, I'm sure, will all be after you. And Jack...That way lies madness...You, you'll understand these things better when you're older. The point is, my dear boy, that we all must resist temptation. Purity is its own reward. Dear Jack, (she kissed him) welcome to your new home")
Jack's Bath Delivered by Sex-Obsessed Louise
"Are you thinking of Jesus, Jack?"
  • the scenes of Jack's days as a gunfighter (the "Soda Pop" Kid) when he met Wild Bill Hickok (Jeff Corey) in a saloon
  • the hilarious scene in a teepee when Jack was encouraged to sleep with the three widowed sisters of his wife Sunshine (Aimée Eccles), while she was giving birth; the sisters (Digging Bear, Little Elk, and Corn Woman) each took turns having sex with Jack inside the teepee; during the first instance as he climbed under a blanket, Jack mused: "Well, I guess you'll do as well as any. I figured she was the littlest one, and it would be easy. But Lord help us, them young girls is deadly. However, the Great Spirit was with me and I survived"; afterwards, Sunshine praised the exhausted Jack: "I knew you were a good man"
  • the recreation of insane Gen. George Armstrong Custer's (Richard Mulligan) 1868 mid-winter surprise attack and brutal massacre of Black Kettle's Cheyenne encampment (of mostly women and children) on Indian lands at Washita River (shot silently through a telephoto lens) with the additional slaughter of Indian horses and views of bodies lying in the snow, in the midst of which Custer made insensitive comments: ("You think it's shocking to shoot a few ponies? Well, let me tell you, the women are far more important than the ponies. The point is, they breed like rats, however, Lieutenant, this is a legal action. And the men are under strict orders not to shoot the women. Unless, of course, they refuse to surrender")
  • the scene of Custer's "mule-skinner" scout Jack, using reverse psychology, tricking General Custer into leading his cavalry troops to the disastrous Little Big Horn - where they were massacred: ("General, you go down there... There are thousands of Indians down there. And when they get done with you, there won't be nothin' left but a greasy spot. This ain't the Washita River, General. And them ain't helpless women and children waitin' for ya. They're Cheyenne brave and Sioux. You go down there if you got the nerve"); Custer thought he had outsmarted Jack and vowed to proceed: ("Still trying to outsmart me, aren't you, mule skinner? You want me to think that you don't want me to go down there, but the subtle truth is, you really don't want me to go down there. Well, are you reassured now, Major? Men of the seventh! The hour of victory is at hand! Onward to Little Big Horn and glory!")
  • toward the end of the film, Chief Old Lodge Skins' decision to die, accompanied by Jack to the Indian burial ground, where he made a speech about his gratitude before lying down to die: ("It makes my heart sad. A world without Human Beings has no center to it....It is a good day to die! Thank you for making me a Human Being! Thank you for helping me to become a warrior. Thank you for my victories and for my defeats. Thank you for my vision and the blindness in which I saw further. You make all things and direct them in their ways, oh Grandfather. And now, you have to silence the Human Beings! We'll soon walk a road that leads nowhere. I am going to die now, unless death wants to fight. And I ask you for the last time to grant me my old power to make things happen. Take care of my son, here. See that he doesn't go crazy."); but then when it started to rain, the Chief remarked as he sat up: ("Am I still in this world?...Well, sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn't")

121 Year-Old Jack Crabb

Jack Crabb: aka "Little Big Man"

"I'm a white man!"

The "Soda Pop" Kid with Wild Bill Hickok

Jack Sleeping with the Three Widowed Sisters of His Wife

Gen. Custer's Washita River Massacre

Custer: "Onward to Little Big Horn"

Chief Old Lodge Skins' Dying Speech


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