The Western was fair game in 1970, when the movie Little Big Man was released.
Those were cynical times, and people were polarized—politically, socially, culturally—but Westerns were a constant; the difference was diverse groups watched them. John Wayne kept older audiences in their seats, but other people were watching movies like The Wild Bunch, Soldier Blue, A Man Called Horse and a great many Spaghetti Westerns, when you could find them.
But Little Big Man was the first time that a Western made sense as political satire (F Troop doesn’t count). Little Big Man was a farce that went straight for the jugular, and it did so by being ribald, anti-heroic and pro-Indian.
It’s still a pretty good comedy, even if the politics are rusted somewhat. The film offers strong writing and a slew of great actors, not least of all the brilliant Chief Dan George. Little Big Man has not lost its charm.
The new Blu-ray image is particularly sharp and the sound is clean, but the disc does not offer any extras, not even a commentary. The movie really deserves more than this.
Henry Cabot Beck is the Film Editor for True West, writes about pop culture in general for other publications and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society.