October 19, 2016


Starring Robert Redford, Michael J. Pollard, Lauren Hutton, Noah Beery Jr., Lucille Benson, Linda Gaye Scott. Directed by Sidney J. Furie. (1970, 99 min).

It's hard not to like Robert Redford. While I don't know him personally, he's always come across as a congenial nice guy. I'll always admire his commitment and integrity to his projects (both personal and commercial), but you have to admit there's only one thing he truly does better than anyone else...which is being Robert Redford.

He generally plays nice guys onscreen...selfless, heroic, laid-back, sincere, iconic, romantic, symbolic (and, of course, always dreamy). This makes it sort-of difficult to accept him as a conniving, self-centered scumbag. I just don't think he has it in him.

He's tried on occasion, such as his role as one of the title characters in Little Fauss and Big Halsy, one of countless leisurely paced character studies that were popular in the early 70s.  Halsy's a lecherous douche who, when he isn't screwing every woman in sight, is trying to make it as a professional motorcycle racer (though doesn't appear to be particularly good at it, since he crashes most of the time). He's also been banned from competition for drinking during races. Then he meets Little Fauss (Michael J. Pollard), an introverted rube who doesn't particularly like Halsy but admires his carefree lifestyle. Halsy talks him into being his mechanic and letting him race under Fauss' name. But Halsey does more boasting about himself then anything else and doesn't follow through on his promises. He also treats Fauss like crap most of the time, who eventually gets fed up with how callous Halsy is to everyone, especially Rita (Lauren Hutton).

"Hang on...we'll drive over!"
Redford tries to convince us he's an asshole, but even when stealing cash & food, swilling beer, grabbing groupies by the unmentionables and treating them like commodities, he's still just Robert Redford, the icon. But that's not even biggest problem here. Fauss isn't an especially likable character either, and Pollard plays him as yet-another nebbish imp (something he's made a career of). Neither of them are particularly interesting either. While there are a few impressive racing scenes, Little Fauss and Big Halsey is mostly slow and uninvolving and nearly plotless.

On the plus side, the soundtrack is peppered with songs performed by Johnny Cash, and since the soundtrack has been out of print for years, this may be the only place to hear them.

I suppose seeing Redford play against type gives the film has some value as a curio, but Little Fauss and Big Halsy has little else to recommend it. Best to leave this deservedly-forgotten back in the 70s where it belongs.


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