The Hired Hand (1971)
Directed by Peter Fonda
Genres - Western | Sub-Genres - Psychological Western, Revisionist Western | Release Date - Aug 11, 1971 (USA - Unknown) | Run Time - 93 min. | Countries - United States | MPAA Rating - R
Synopsis by Jonathan Crow
Meeting largely mixed reviews during its first run in 1971, counterculture icon Peter Fonda's directorial debut was restored and remastered for its 30-year anniversary. The film opens with three drifters greeting the morning by cavorting in a sun-dabbled mountain river. Harry Collings (Fonda) catches a fish and gives it to Arch Harris (Warren Oates) who grills it over a low fire, while Dan (Robert Pratt) -- the youngest of the three -- bathes in the swift moving current. Later, as they head into Del Norte, a small town in the middle of nowhere, Dan talks breathlessly about going to California while Collings suddenly decides to return home after a seven-year absence. After Dan runs afoul of a group of unsavory characters lead by McVey (Severn Darden), Collings vows vengeance for the lad's death and blows off McVey's feet. Collings and Harris bury Dan and flee from the town riding hundreds of miles to Collings' homestead. His wife Hannah (Verna Bloom) -- now called "Widow Collings" by the local townsfolk -- is none too pleased to see her wayward husband at her doorstep. Taking his wife's anger in stride, he asks only to be allowed to work as a hired hand. Just as Hannah and Collings start to move beyond the years of anger and estrangement, disaster strikes. This film was screened at the 2001 Toronto Film Festival.
cowboy, family-abandonment, farming, killing, murder, prison, ranch, revenge, romance