Everyone remembers Marathon Man, The Graduate and Midnight Cowboy, but Little Big Man, arguably Dustin Hoffman’s greatest early performance, always gets lost in the mix. Still, maybe that’s fitting. After all, Arthur Penn’s twisty, picaresque rewriting of Western fact is all about a man that history forgot.
Dusty plays 121-year-old Jack Crabb, telling his life story to a reporter. We learn about Crabb’s early days, from his adoption by Indians to his adventures as an ineffectual gunslinger. Then it’s on to the Battle of the Little Big Horn and Crabb’s claim to be the only white man to survive Custer’s Last Stand. Told with an easy wit and a generous humanism, it’s a beautiful, funny and tender movie. The best Western you’ve probably never seen.