Little Fauss (Michael J. Pollard) is a motorcycle rider who often participates in cross country races, seeing this as this is the method he regards as hitting the big time in the contest world. Today as he tries to better his lot in the sporting life, he falls from his bike and lands in the dust, thereby spoiling his chances, but as he attends to the vehicle he notices what he takes to be one of the other competitors walking around the circuit, who turns out to be a man named Halsy Knox (Robert Redford). What Fauss doesn't realise straight away is that this man is trouble, an opportunist whose long scar down his spine is an indication he has had an eventful life, but not that Fauss would be well off out of it...
When Easy Rider was the surprise hit it was, a bunch of similar counterculture movies jostled for position at the box office though not many were quite the success that Dennis Hopper's effort had been. In fact, pretty much none of them were, yet you could observe the audience had been established for them, it's just that they were spread out among a wide selection of works rather than flocking to one in particular. One of those efforts was this sporting drama, for which there were high hopes but it didn't end up doing much business, possibly down to its star Redford playing an absolute heel in it, rather than the hero he had essayed to great effect in his recent blockbuster Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Certainly there were rumours that Redford was badly stung by the failure of Little Fauss and Big Halsy, he apparently loved the script and thought that would be enough to make it significant, but after it essentially flopped, or at least underperformed in light of expectations, it seems he would rather not be reminded of the movie. Which was a shame given it was a side of the charismatic star we didn't often see, and one he was really rather good at portraying, what would in days gone by be termed an absolute cad and a bounder. Halsy uses whoever he can to get ahead, implementing that famed Redford magnetism to his own deeply selfish goals, and initially Fauss is dazzled, not to mention flattered that such an obvious winner should take an interest in him.
That's the impression most of the characters get from Halsy before he goes too far and crushes them underfoot, that welcome and gratitude that someone with those movie celebrity looks and confidence would pay any attention to them. However, what that covers up is that he may be doing his best to appear a winner, but he is actually a loser through and through, leaving us with some moral or other that we shouldn't take people at face value, as a Halsy might enter your life and fleece you. Watch how he helps himself to food and drink without permission, taking it for granted that they would be offered sooner or later, his confidence an enabling element of his personality, and that extends to bedding women as well, with blondes his preference.
After Halsy leads Fauss astray at home, with the little guy's parents (Noah Beery Jr and Lucille Benson) seeing right through the handsome devil in a manner that most do not, they both go out on the road, ostensibly as a duo of racers, but actually with Fauss as his mechanic. There's a scene where Fauss breaks his leg in a collision with his new best friend during a race; Halsy uses a bit of his bike on his own damaged machine to mend it, then zooms off half-promising someone will be back to fetch the hapless contestant. Cue a cut to the desert in darkness and Fauss still out there alone hours later, a quick bit that sums up their relationship with harsh effectiveness. Later, Lauren Hutton appears as another conquest for the rake but he accidentally gets her pregnant, just as more real life problems begin to weigh the title characters down the further the plot hazily progresses. With some nice action sequences as the bikes roar around various tracks and Johnny Cash tunes, aside from showing up Halsy as a louse there wasn't much to this, though it was very well acted.