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.Written by
Steve Harkins <email@example.com>
[to an insistently insinuating stranger in a bar]
You can always tell a man who's got something on his mind. He keeps talkin' to people he don't know. Now what is it you're tryin' to tell me?
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The version of the film prepared for US television cuts several scenes involving nudity violence and bad language, but restores 17 minutes of footage from the cutting room floor. Added scenes include Larry Hagman's entire role as a sheriff who runs Warren Oates out of town. See more »
Practically the definition of "neglected masterpiece"...
I saw the last half or so of this film many years ago, on a small black-and-white television. Even then, I was impressed by a film I had only heard described as a commercial flop and a come-down after "Easy Rider." Maybe people were expecting another "counter-cultural" demythologizing of America's past, as was common in those days, and didn't know what to make of a surprisingly traditional and sensitive drama about loyalty, love, and the desire for new horizons versus the call of home.
Finally, thanks to the 30th Anniversary restoration, I was able to see the entire work, and was not disappointed. Not only is this a well-told and -acted drama, it's easily one of the most stunning-looking films I've ever seen. Nor is it merely "pretty photography," but key to the inner life of the characters, in that you can see how one could be drawn by such beauty into either wandering off through the world in search of new wonders, or returning to those which you've already known.
It's a shame, to me, that Peter Fonda only went on to direct two more (relatively obscure) films. In a decade now recognized as one of the greatest in American filmmaking, "The Hired Hand" is worthy of being considered among the classics.
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