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      The Hired Hand

      R Released Jan 1, 1971 1 hr. 33 min. Western List
      81% 16 Reviews Tomatometer 74% 1,000+ Ratings Audience Score A drifting cowboy (Peter Fonda) brings along a friend (Warren Oates) when he returns to his wife (Verna Bloom) and ranch after seven years. Read More Read Less

      Audience Reviews

      View All (60) audience reviews
      S R 1001 movies to see before you die (added later). Not my cuppa tea, these kind of realist westerns focusing on hardships and suffering in the west. RUS. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 02/12/24 Full Review William L The Hired Hand is a traditional Western in much the same way that the Saw franchise is a series of tinkering 'how-to' videos; the former has cowpokes and the latter has gears, but that doesn't automatically impart a certain genre identity. It's very much a deviation from what might be considered a typical Western narrative, focusing on weariness, isolation, and personal relationships in opposition of the conventional worship of rugged individualism. It's a character study and moody from top to bottom, where a protagonist (Fonda, in a role that doesn't seem to play to his strengths as an actor) finds himself building up trust with the woman that he abandoned years before in an awkward triangle of affection, scorn, respect, and love. Surprisingly feminist tone, even for a period in which experimentation and liberation were becoming more commonplace. There are some strange technical choices that felt totally jarring, particularly scene transitions in which we are treated to several awkward freeze-frames that fade into the next shot. If I were a Western fan in 1971 walking into a theatre to watch this film blind, I would leave surprised by the willingness to bend genre conventions, and thoroughly disappointed. Cowboys don't talk about their FEELINGS. Like so many films, I can appreciate the attempt to execute a distinctive and original vision, but my inner popcorn movie fan can only enjoy a radical departure from safe waters so much. (3/5) Rated 3 out of 5 stars 09/17/21 Full Review jon c The late Peter Fonda and Warren Oates in more of a spiritual Western Harry Collings is a drifter cowboy During his return home he brings a friend Arch Harris with him Harry is hoping to return to the love of his life Hannah after 7 years He's been drifting from job to job in the southwestern United States Hannah wants him to stay but there's a catch; he has to be a hired hand She's less than pleased to see him again after being gone for so long This is a short movie and more of a smaller-scale story for this genre Lots more quiet, intimate moments Nothing too huge or gun fight-filled Simple tale of a man hoping to re-insert himself into the life he left behind It's very light in terms of a gigantic plot but for western fans and Henry Fonda fans it might just be worth a cup of tea Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review delysid d a great forgotten film Rated 4 out of 5 stars 05/17/20 Full Review Audience Member This movie is a perfect argument for why I take notes when watching a movie. Before reading them, I wasn't even convinced I had seen it. It's not a bad movie; it captures the sloppy reality of the old west nicely, the wife character is a nice "eff you" to most western women characters, & the almost-romantic relationship between the two male partners is really effective. Unfortunately, Fonda doesn't really work in front of or behind the camera. Remake this with a proven director & you're got a winner. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 02/24/23 Full Review Audience Member A shockingly honest and existential western that doesn't try to flatter its characters in any way. It's very Of It's Time, but it's still the type of movie that's more subversive than you realize until you look back at it as a whole. Hired Hand is all about looking at classic Americana themes and trying to understand their motives in an age of psychology and introspection. I was very impressed with the sexual and emotional frankness of this movie. Hannah Collings (Verna Bloom) absolutely steals the show as Harry's (Peter Fonda) deserted wife. From her amazingly feminist speech about why she has no interest in being a kept woman for any man, to her calling out of Harry's loyalty and love for another man over his love for her. It's amazing to see the cowboy male dynamic get called out in this way. There's nothing dramatic, there's no accusations of whether it's a sexual love or not, but whatever it is for Harry, it's refreshing to see it being called out -as- love. Then there's the young man who cries out for his mother after being shot (not shown as a 'pussy' but as an actual sad scene!), or the banal male violence and posturing and the meaningless deaths caused by it. Hired Hand strips away the glory of frontier masculinity and lays it bare in the harsh light of day. The movie demands you psychoanalyze the classic western themes of your parent's generation to find those parallels to the counterculture generation - emotional love, free love, sexual fluidity, the pointlessness of violence, the beauty in nature - otherwise you'll be bored out of your skull. (To Peter's credit, I don't think this movie would have been nearly as successful if it had these characters come out and have these revelations themselves.) I will say I was totally turned off by the freeze frames and most of the camera work here, though it certainly did seem to be about 10 to 20 years ahead of its time for the VHS generation of slow fades and bland music-video-esque montages. The movie also drags, though that might also be because for the first half of the movie I was expecting a straight western. I also feel like the movie would have been more emotionally powerful if it had just focused on Hannah as a character but c'est la vie. Hired Hand sort of feels like Peter Fonda's self portrait. A deeply personal film made with a frank, counterculture slant by the hippie son of western masculine hero Henry Fonda. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/06/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

      Cast & Crew

      Critics Reviews

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      Bilge Ebiri New York Magazine/Vulture Mixed in with the delicate, naturalistic performances... is a sense of stylistic experimentation that also feels thoroughly new. Aug 19, 2019 Full Review Michael Sragow New Yorker Fonda, touching as an actor, proves astonishing as a director, using a fluid, tactile style to conjure a life lived close to the elements and to sudden death. Jan 23, 2017 Full Review Empire Magazine Rated: 4/5 Dec 30, 2006 Full Review Richard Propes A film that unfolds patiently. Rated: 2.5/4.0 Sep 10, 2020 Full Review Dilys Powell Sunday Times (UK) With so much conscious art there isn't room for simple emotions. Mar 17, 2020 Full Review Richard R. Harmetz Los Angeles Free Press Fonda's direction is especially sure in his creation of the near deserted town whose men have met life's indifference by succumbing to it. Jan 9, 2020 Full Review Read all reviews

      Movie Info

      Synopsis A drifting cowboy (Peter Fonda) brings along a friend (Warren Oates) when he returns to his wife (Verna Bloom) and ranch after seven years.
      Peter Fonda
      Executive Producer
      Stanley A. Weiss
      Alan Sharp
      Universal Pictures
      Production Co
      Universal Pictures, Pando
      R (Western Violence|Some Sexual Content)
      Original Language
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Jan 1, 1971, Wide
      Release Date (Streaming)
      Apr 24, 2020