[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/little_big_man_6810458.jpg]]

''Little Big Man'' is an 1970 film directed by Arthur Penn. The screenplay is by Calder Willingham, [[TheFilmOfTheBook adapted from a novel of the same name]] by Thomas Berger.

Creator/DustinHoffman stars as Jack Crabb, a 121-year-old survivor of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. But there's more to his life story than that: life as an adopted Cheyenne, a SnakeOilSalesman, an amateur gunslinger, and an attempt to go straight before he gets embroiled in the mad dreams of a general named UsefulNotes/GeorgeArmstrongCuster. Sometimes a parody of the {{Western}} genre, sometimes a {{Deconstruction}}.
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!!''Little Big Man'' contains examples of:
* ActionSurvivor: Jack's primary motivation is always personal survival in part because he's caught between two cultures and torn between his loyalties to both sides but mostly because he doesn't particularly want to kill anybody, which is why he also failed as a would-be gunfighter.
* AdaptationDyeJob: Jack Crabb is a redhead and freckled in Berger's novel. Hoffman and the two younger actors who play the character are neither of those things.
* AlwaysSomeoneBetter: Done completely by accident to Younger Bear through parts of the movie, including Jack saving Young Bear's life.
-->'''Younger Bear:''' I'm an important person now. I have a wife, and four horses.\\
'''Little Big Man:''' I have a horse... and four wives.
* ArentYouGoingToRavishMe: In an early scene where the narrator/protagonist is first captured by the Cheyenne, his sister is shown worrying and complaining about what all these natives might be planning for her in the strange language they're speaking and saying "They're going to rape me for sure!" As time passes and nothing happens to her, however, we see that they're planning no such thing, and that she's actually getting rather annoyed because compared to Jack, who is enthusiastically adopting their ways, no one's paying very much attention to her at all. Didn't help that they didn't realize she was a girl at first.
* BlackComedyRape: Old Lodge Skins, when learning of Crabb's white wife's "pleasant enthusiasm when [Crabb] mounts her", casually explains that when he tried a white woman, "she didn't show any enthusiasm at all."
* BriarPatching: General Custer hires Jack Crabb as a scout, reasoning that because Crabb hates him and wishes to get revenge on him for killing the Cheyenne, everything he tells Custer will be a lie, thereby making him a perfect "[[AntiAdvice reverse barometer]]". This leads to a CrowningMomentOfAwesome for Crabb when they get to the Little Bighorn and Custer asks if they should attack:
-->'''Crabb:''' General, you go down there.
-->'''Custer:''' You're advising me to go into the Coulee?
-->'''Crabb:''' Yes, sir.
-->'''Custer:''' There are no Indians there, I suppose.
-->'''Crabb:''' I didn't say that. [[SarcasticConfession There are]] ''[[SarcasticConfession thousands]]'' [[SarcasticConfession of Indians down there. And when they get done with you, there won't be nothing left but a greasy stain.]] This ain't the Washite River, General, and them ain't helpless women and children waiting for you. They're Cheyenne brave, and Sioux. You go down there, General, if you've got the nerve.
-->'''Custer:''' 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!
* {{Brownface}}: Creator/DustinHoffman as (Jack Crabb pretending to be) a Cheyenne.
* CruelMercy: General Custer spares Jack Crabb's life, after Crabb attempts to kill him in his tent but loses his nerve at the last second. Crabb states in narration that this is the worst thing Custer could have done to him.
* DisneyDeath: Played with. Cheyenne chief Old Lodge Skins, Jack's blind mentor, has finally grown tired of life. He and Jack ascend a hill where Old Lodge Skins prays for his death and lies down with his eyes closed. It then begins raining. Old Lodge Skin blinks, then sighs. "Sometimes the magic works. Sometimes it doesn't." and they both go back to their village. In the book, Old Lodge Skins does die.
* FramingDevice: Crabb in the hospital.
* GilliganCut: After Jack explains that his wife doesn't want to move West because she's afraid of the Indians, Custer says she can count on his personal guarantee that Indians will be no problem. Cut to the next scene of the wagon train under fierce Indian attack.
* GoingNative: Played with. Young Jack finds Cheyenne life very attractive (as he puts it, "I wasn't just playing Indian, I was living it.") before his UnwantedRescue, then he spends the rest of his life caught between the two cultures, never fully belonging to either one.
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: Gen. George Custer, Wild Bill Hickok
* {{Hypocrite}}: Mrs. Pendrake, the wife of a fire-and-brimstone PreacherMan, adopts Jack Crabb and tries to see to his moral and spiritual instruction. After he catches her having sex with a shopkeeper in town, he swears off religion for good and joins up with SnakeOilSalesman Mr. Merriweather. As Crabb puts it in his narration, "After Mrs. Pendrake, his honesty was downright refreshing."
** There's also Jack's sister, who, after finding him, tells him that he's now in the "bosom of family" again, only to immediately leave him when he decides that he doesn't want to be a gunfighter.
* IOweYouMyLife: The life-saving action of the eponymous character just amplifies Younger Bear's hatred of him, though he cannot do anything till he repays the debt.
-->'''Younger Bear''': I have saved your life. Now, the next time we meet, I can finally kill you without becoming an evil person. YAHOO!!
* IdiotBall: The historian in the frame story offends Crabb by calling Little Bighorn a Native American "adventure." A scholar of the time period really should have known his facts better.
* InfantImmortality: [[spoiler: Sadly averted; children, even newborns, don't fare well under attacks by the Pawnee tribe and the US army]]
* KarmicDeath: The 7th Cavalry at Little Bighorn, especially after the Washita Massacre.
* KnowNothingKnowItAll: The Historian at the beginning of the film.
* MightyWhitey: Averted. Crabb was adopted by the Cheyenne, but he was never their best warrior or their best leader. It could be argued that he was led by the events that unfolded around him, and could do little to change their outcome, being more an observer then anything else.
* MomentOfSilence: When [[spoiler:Sunshine dies.]]
* TheMunchausen: As the film's poster states, Crabb was "either the most neglected hero in history or a liar of insane proportion".
* NostalgicNarrator
* OfThePeople: Crabb used the term "Human Being" when referring to "The People".
* TheOldestProfession: Crabb goes to deliver some money to Wild Bill Hickok's widow, who's working in a brothel, and is surprised to discover that she's [[spoiler:Mrs. Pendrake]].
* SarcasticConfession: Crabb tells General Custer in the final battle scene exactly what's going to happen if he charges forward. He gives Custer the information because he knows that he [[CassandraTruth won't be believed]], and he isn't.
* ShoutOut: To any Western (including ''Three Godfathers'') that uses the hymn "Shall We Gather at the River."
* SnakeOilSalesman: Mr. Merriweather. Crabb also becomes one of these as his assistant.
* SoundtrackDissonance: Towards the end Custer's 7th Cavalry Regiment massacres an entire Native American village, including the protagonist's family to the cheery strains of "Garryowen" played by the regimental band. ''Garryowen'' was (and remains to this day) the actual marching song of the 7th cavalry.
** ''Garryowen'' was also the regimental march of the British Light Brigade at the battle of Balaclava and their famous suicidal charge, making it an allusion to another famous military disaster. ''Little Big Man''[='s=] Charge into Little Big Horn is the 1936 film version of ''TheChargeOfTheLightBrigade'' shorn of all heroic pretension.
* SparedByTheAdaptation: Old Lodge Skins dies in the book, but not in the film. Arthur Penn explained the change:
-->We thought long and hard about this and in the first draft of the script he does die, but this death would have introduced an element of sadness into the film and we didn't want this. The film would have become dramatic, even melodramatic, instead of being picaresque. I also wanted to show that not only were the Indians going to be destroyed, but they were also condemned to live. On the whole, audiences like their entertainment dramatically compact and homogenous, but I want the opposite. A film should remain free and open, not with everything defined and resolved."
* TarAndFeathers: Happens to Crabb when he's found out as a SnakeOilSalesman.
* TimeshiftedActor: While a child actor had to portray the 10-year-old Crabb, Creator/DustinHoffman wore make-up to portray the character's centenarian self. He made his voice sound old by going into his dressing room and screaming at the top of his lungs for an hour.
* {{Tomboy}}: Jack's older sister Caroline, to the point where Old Lodge Skins initially mistakes her for male.
* TheTropeKid: For a while Crabb is a gunfighter known as "The Soda Pop Kid".
* UnreliableNarrator: Crabb is quite likely one of these.
* UnwantedHarem: After the army has killed off a lot of the village's men, Jack finds that he's expected to provide husband duty for his wife's three sisters.
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