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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Little Big Man (1970)

Little Big Man (1970)

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Released 7-Apr-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1970
Running Time 133:42
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (70:16) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Arthur Penn

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Dustin Hoffman
Faye Dunaway
Chief Dan George
Martin Balsam
Richard Mulligan
Jeff Corey
Aimée Eccles
Kelly Jean Peters
Carole Androsky
Robert Little Star
Cal Bellini
Ruben Moreno
Steve Shemayne
Case ?
RPI $24.95 Music John Hammond

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian Titling
Spanish Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Well before films like Dances with Wolves, even before Outlaw Josey Wales, there was this film. One of the things that this film did was to paint a somewhat different picture of "Indians" (more specifically, the Cheyenne). It also painted a highly satiric view of the hypocrisy of "white" society.

    The entire film is told in flashback. In the 1960s, a historian (played by a young William Hickey) has come to gather some oral history from an "old Indian fighter", Jack Crabb (Dustin Hoffman), who says he is 121 years old. The historian is disbelieving when this man claims to be the sole white survivor of the Battle of Little Big Horn, also known as Custer's Last Stand. Jack tells his life story to the historian's tape recorder. Jack has always been more than a little naive, but he has lead an eventful life.

    When he was 10 years old, his family was murdered by Indians (Pawnee) while they were travelling West to settle. He is adopted by a tribe of Cheyenne lead by Old Lodge Skins (Chief Dan George), and learns their ways. Then he gets "rescued" by some cavalry, and re-educated by Mrs Pendrake (Faye Dunaway), a "god-fearing" woman. Then he takes up with a snake-oil salesman before becoming a gun-fighter, then a store-keeper, and more... He meets some of the famous names of the Wild West, like Wild Bill Hickok (Jeff Corey), and General Custer (Richard Mulligan).

    The story is fairly episodic (and quite long), but that's understandable when covering so many periods in his life. One repeating theme is his inadvertent humiliation of Younger Bear (Cal Bellini), who hates him, but who owes him a life.

    The picture painted of white Americans in general is unflattering, but the cavalry are portrayed as murderous thugs, and Custer as an egotistical fool. This is, of course, a biased representation, because the film is very much from the point of view of the Cheyenne, but much of what it shows is founded in truth. Bear in mind that this film was released in 1970, and so I guess they felt the need to argue their case more strongly than would be necessary today, when there has been general acknowledgment of the evils done to the native Americans.

    This is an interesting film, with many amusing sequences on top of the sad story of the oppression of the native Americans. Recommended.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced. That's the original and intended aspect ratio.

    The image is sharp and clear. Shadow detail is quite good. Film grain is intermittent; it is almost always light where it occurs, except at 120:55, and never troubling. There's no low-level noise.

    Colour is well-rendered, although production design means that the colours are drawn from a somewhat restricted palette. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There are more than a few film artefacts, but they are all small, an assortment of sparkles, a few spots and flecks. Very impressive for a film that's thirty four years old.

    Aliasing is next to invisible on a progressive system, but rather more noticeable on an interlaced one. Even on a progressive system there is visible moiré at, for example, 105:20; on an interlaced system there is more. The only MPEG artefacts noticeable are in the form of background shimmer, which is not uncommon.

    There are subtitles in 24 languages, including English, plus English for the Hearing Impaired. I watched the English subtitles. They are fairly accurate. They are well-timed, and quite legible.

    The disc is single-sided and dual-layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change comes at 70:16. It is placed at a scene change, and is not especially noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The soundtrack is provided in five languages, including English. The English soundtrack is Dolby Digital 5.1, at 448kbps. I don't see why they bothered with 5.1, given that there is no trace of surround activity, and the subwoofer doesn't seem to get used, either.

    The dialogue is clear and readily understood. There are no audio sync issues.

    The score, from John Hammond, is excellent, a real enhancement to the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu is static and silent, and easy to use.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this disc was released last year.

    According to the IMDb, the Region 1 disc is in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and single layered. Were this true, then the Region 4 disc would have two advantages, being in the correct aspect ratio, and being dual layered. However, it turns out that the IMDb entry is inaccurate. The R1 DVD is in the correct aspect ratio, and dual layered. Indeed, the R1 sounds pretty much identical to the R4, even down to having no extras.

    Once again, it looks like you can choose either the R1 or the R4 with impunity.


    A classic movie on a good, if bare-bones, DVD.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is more than adequate.

    The extras seem to be missing.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Thursday, March 18, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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