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Genres: Western
Actors: Peter Fonda , Warren Oates , Verna Bloom , Robert Pratt , Severn Darden , Rita Rogers , Ann Doran , Ted Markland , Owen Orr , Al Hopson , Megan Denver , Michael McClure , Gray Johnson , Len Marsal
Director: Peter Fonda
Country: United States
Year: 1971
IMDB Rating: 7.0/10 (1257 votes)

Harry Collings returns home to his farm after drifting with his friend, Arch. His wife, who had given up on him, reluctantly allows him to stay, and soon believes that all will be well again. But then Harry has to make a difficult decision regarding his loyalties and priorities.

Film Review

I'm surprised at the maturity Peter Fonda the director displays with THE HIRED HAND. It'll be a fruitless search to attempt to find a western resonating with the ambiance and themes of THH in its time. It would take quite a few years for the American western to embrace this new take on the mythos of the old west – far removed from the works of John Ford, Anthony Mann or Howard Hawks.THH relates a small but intimate drama about three men travelling west for California – the gold, the ocean, the cold beer, it's a promised land of sorts for drifters like them. After a deadly incident in a small, rundown village where they bury the younger companion, the other two, Harry (Peter Fonda) and Artch (Warren Oates) decide to turn back and instead of California return to Harry's wife – whom he abandoned six years ago to become a drifter.Upon their return Harris finds a frigid and distant wife, reluctant to have him back. She satisfied her natural sexual frustration over the years…

Place THE HIRED HAND with TENDER MERCIES. LONESOME DOVE or the novels of Cormac McCarthy for the way it touches on, but does not fully inhabit the ‘western’ genre. This is a film about the tragic, irrevocable voyage we take through life. THE HIRED HAND is also an examination of the theme of male bonding. But it is one of the deeper explorations of that theme and dares to suggest that bonding is really a kind of love. Harry (Peter Fonda) had been married when too young. He left his wife and child to be on his own, and at some point connected with Arch (Warren Oates). As the story opens, Harry tells Arch he wants to return to his wife, instead of continuing on to California. The unpredictability of this film is set out from the start with the opening shot, an impressionistic view of Arch, Harry and their young companion, Dan. And that unpredictable quality come to the fore when Dan is suddenly taken out of the picture completely. At this point, Arch forgets California and goes with Har…

It is hard to believe that this film has toiled in relative obscurity for so long. This is a wonderful western with a great cast, shots and a mesmerizing score. The movie is deliberate, and allows the viewer to contemplate all that occurs. Peter Fonda has done away with overblown action scenes to craft a real character study with consequences we can all identify with. If you are a fan of Unforgiven do not miss this!