Quick Question about "Little Big Man" Spoilers

So in “Little Big Man” Dustin Hoffman’s grandfather decides “today is a good day to die” gets all dressed up, goes up to the mountain top, likes down, waits, waits some more, it starts to rain, gets up and says something like “sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn’t”

What ultimately happens to the grandfather in the movie? I seem to remember he dies. Does he die on purpose? Does he decide “today is a good day to die” and it works?


I don’t recall him dying in the movie.

The scene you remember was the next to last scene in the movie. There was no scene portraying grandfather’s death.

Now, it’s true that he’s dead during part of the movie – when Hoffman is shown as being 121 in the frame story, it’s assumed the grandfather was no longer alive.


(that’s 1337 for “what he said”)

Love the film! Haven’t seen it in years, though; even though it’s in my DVD collection.

As he & Dustin are walking back, he tells the story about his wife, Doesn’t Like Horses.

Love this movie.

Excellent movie! I love that they refer to themselves as the human beings. I haven’t seen it in years either. Anybody remember what happened to his sister?

I think the last time we see her she’s carrying an anvil.

The N’avi in Avatar refer to themselves as something like “the human beings”, too. It’s probably common that a lot of tribes refer to themselves that way, and other tribes are all “those guys”.

Old Lodge Skins: There is an endless supply of white men. There has always been a limited number of human beings.

One of my favorite movies of all time.



From my studies in college, yes, this is true. Almost all localized groups refer to themselves as “the people” and to any others as “not people”.

That’s one reason so many of us prefer to refer to our planet as Terra, rather than Earth. It seems likely that should we someday encounter beings from other worlds, many of them will also refer to their planet with a word that means, when translated, “this ball of mud and rock”.


It’s nice to see that others like this film and remember it. I only know a handful of people who had seen it before I brought it up, but everyone I’ve shown it to has come to me and said “dude, that was an awesome fucking movie”.

And of course, I’m all like “duh”.


This is one of my favorite films too. I’m still shocked when I remember that it was only nominated for one Academy Award, Chief Dan George for Best Supporting Actor (he lost to John Mills in Ryan’s Daughter). What the hell? It should have been nominated for Best Picture, Actor, Director, Cinematography, Adapted Script, Makeup!!, Art Direction, Costumes, Sound, even Faye Dunaway as Best Supporting Actress. Seriously, what the hell??

I still think the makeup beats any other portrayal of an old person ever filmed. Even Benjamin Button’s makeup didn’t look as realistic as Jack Crabbe’s still does. (Btw, that’s a young William Hickey as the historian. He’s been in dozens of films, but I always think of him as Don Corrado Prizzi in Prizzi’s Honor.)

[Memory Lane]I’ll never forget seeing this in the theater when it was first released. My dad drove mom, my brother and me to Kansas City for dinner. I grew up on a farm in Kansas. Going to the Big City, which was about an 80-mile round trip, was a Very Big Deal. It was a special occasion but I don’t remember what. We went out to dinner and then went to the movie theater. This theater had 2 screens, the first time I knew that such a wondrous thing existed. Dad and my brother wanted to see Tora! Tora! Tora! but my mom and I decided to go see Little Big Man instead. I think mom was embarrassed at some of the parts, especially some scenes with Mrs. Pendrake. We were both enraptured though. We laughed at the same moments, we cried at the same moments.

Right after Sunshine and her baby were killed, when everything went into slow motion and the sound stopped, somebody in the theater yelled out “YOU BASTARDS!” and everybody laughed. It wasn’t so funny, but it was a release of tension. Mom and I were holding hands at that part. My mom and I were never really close, and this movie is one of the few things that we shared between us, it was our movie.

When it was over dad and bro were waiting for us. Their movie had started before ours. Mom insisted that we all see the movie again together. No one in my family is like me, likes seeing multiple movies in the same night, so this was unheard of. Dad was appalled at the thought, but mom insisted. She was going to see it again with or without Dad, and if he wanted to go back home, fine, she’d find a hotel, spend the night, and take a Greyhound bus back the next morning. It was glorious seeing her stand up for herself and a movie like that. My brother and I were just grinning like fools, me because I wanted to see it again, him because he wanted to see it too, both because we’d never seen mom like this and it cool staying out late and seeing 2 movies at an indoor theater, not a Drive-In.

Dad gave in, we saw the movie, and he liked it. Not as much as we did, John Wayne westerns were more his speed, but I think he was glad he saw it. He liked the gunslinger sections and, in retrospect, probably the Mrs. Pendrake sections too.

Mom later bought the book and we both read it. I was surprised that as much as is packed into the movie, there’s a lot cut out, such as when he became a Bison Hunter.[/Memory Lane]

Some of my all-time favorite quotes are from this film:

“Well, Jack. Now you know. This is a house of ill fame. And I’m a fallen flower. This life is not only wicked and sinful. It isn’t even any fun! Yet, if I was married and could come here once or twice a week, it might be fun. But every night, it’s just boring.”

“I reckon right then I come close to turning pure Indian, and I probably would have spent the rest of my days with Sunshine and her sisters… But sometimes, grass don’t grow, wind don’t blow, and the sky ain’t blue.”

“You’re improving Jack, but you can’t get rid of that streak of honesty in you…the one that ruined you was that damn Indian…he gave you a vision of moral order in the universe and there isn’t any. Those stars twinkle in a void and the two-legged creature schemes and dreams beneath them…all in vain, Jack. Two-legged creature will believe anything, and the more preposterous, the better. Whales speak French at the bottom of the ocean…Horses of Arabia have silver wings. I have sold all these propositions…”

Before Little Big Man, the makeup artist worked on the TV program Dark Shadows. Here’s what he did to Jonathan Frid.


He doesn’t, but IIRC, he does in the book.

Totally agree.

Totally agree. The only thing I’ve seen that’s possibly better is the work done on Johnny Knoxville and Spike Jonze for the Jackass movies.

Just ordered it from Amazon. I haven’t seen it in years, and I know it will be a big hit in the singular household. I’d highly recommend the book, too. It’s a great read, and there’s so much more to the story! The sequel, Return of Little Big Man, is good, but falls a little short of the original, as sequels often do. But it’s still a joy to hear Crabbe’s voice in your head again.
I just might dig up this book and read it again…

The phrase “when they’re done there’ll be nothing left but a greasy spot” still resonates with me.

It’s got ‘em in spades, as much as most any other film I can think of. Sometimes they’re poignant, sometimes reflective and sometimes just frikkin’ funny.

Younger Bear: I have a wife. And four horses.
Jack Crabb: I have a horse… and four wives.

Those lines come to mind from time to time, for no reason. So does this one:

Mr. Merriweather: Men will believe anything, the more preposterous the better. Whales speak French at the bottom of the sea. The horses of Arabia have silver wings. Pygmies mate with elephants in darkest Africa. I have sold all those propositions.

EDIT: Whoops… I see that one’s already been posted. Well, it should have been. Good line.