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The Hired Hand
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The Hired Hand (1971) More at IMDbPro »

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The Hired Hand -- Open-ended Trailer from Universal Pictures


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Release Date:
11 August 1971 (USA) See more »
Peter Fonda is riding again... To the woman he lost ... for the revenge he craves!
Harry Collings returns home to his farm after drifting with his friend, Arch. His wife, who had given up on him... See more » | Add synopsis »
2 wins See more »
User Reviews:
The Great Non-Western of the 1970s See more (44 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Peter Fonda ... Harry Collings

Warren Oates ... Arch Harris

Verna Bloom ... Hannah Collings
Robert Pratt ... Dan Griffen
Severn Darden ... McVey
Rita Rogers ... Mexican Woman

Ann Doran ... Mrs. Sorenson
Ted Markland ... Luke
Owen Orr ... Mace
Al Hopson ... Bartender
Megan Denver ... Janey Collings
Michael McClure ... Plummer
Gray Johnson ... Will
Len Marsal (as Len Marcel)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Larry Hagman ... Sheriff (uncredited)

Directed by
Peter Fonda 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Alan Sharp 

Produced by
William Hayward .... producer
Stanley A. Weiss .... executive producer
Original Music by
Bruce Langhorne 
Cinematography by
Vilmos Zsigmond 
Film Editing by
Frank Mazzola 
Production Design by
Lawrence G. Paull 
Art Direction by
Lawrence G. Paull 
Set Decoration by
Robert De Vestel 
Costume Design by
Richard Bruno 
Makeup Department
Frank Griffin .... makeup artist
Production Management
Jack Bohrer .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Hawk Koch .... assistant director (as Howard W. Koch Jr.)
John M. Poer .... second assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Mazzola Anthony .... property master (uncredited)
Sound Department
Richard Portman .... sound re-recordist
Le Roy Robbins .... sound
James Contrares .... sound (uncredited)
James M. Falkinburg .... supervising sound editor (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Roger George .... special effects
Visual Effects by
Bob O'Neil .... optical lineup (uncredited)
Brad Reinke .... digital restoration producer (restored version) (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Richmond L. Aguilar .... gaffer
Ronald Vidor .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Sven Walnum .... camera operator (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Natasha Nicholson .... wardrobe consultant
Other crew
Mary Bartelt .... assistant to producer
Marshall Schlom .... script supervisor
Kathy Speer .... assistant to producer
Tim Merrill .... special thanks: restored version
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Rated R for western violence and some sexual content (2003 re-rating)
90 min
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Australia:M | Finland:K-16 | Germany:16 (DVD rating) | Iceland:12 | Sweden:15 | UK:AA (original rating) | UK:12 (re-rating) (2001) | UK:15 (video rating) (1986) | USA:R (2003 re-rating) | USA:GP (original rating) | West Germany:16 (f)
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

After the success of Easy Rider (1969), Universal Pictures hit upon the idea of letting young filmmakers make "semi-independent" films for low budgets in hopes of generating similar profits. The idea was to make five movies for low budgets ($1 million or less), not interfere in the filmmaking process and give the directors final cut. The other movies were: The Last Movie (1971), Taking Off (1971), Silent Running (1972), American Graffiti (1973).See more »
Arch Harris:[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?See more »
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23 out of 24 people found the following review useful.
The Great Non-Western of the 1970s, 25 May 2004
Author: mackjay from Out there in the dark

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 Harry to find the wife. It's clear from her first appearance, that Hannah (Verna Bloom) has harbored anger over the years of Harry's absence and is not willing to have him back. Fonda's performance reveals a great deal of ambivalence about his return: is it merely a sense of obligation that has brought him back? Agreeing to stay on as a 'hired hand'--not a permanent member of the family--Harry does remain, with Arch, sleeping in the barn. It's quite clear that the two men are comfortable, and have already been living a life of their own together. When Harry finally attempts to re-start his marriage, he is half-hearted at best. Hannah has given in to her own admitted needs and taken him back, but the newly re-formed family never takes hold. This can be seen very clearly when Arch leaves for California (in the uncut version, he is told to leave by the town sheriff). At that point the true, underlying meaning of THE HIRED HAND becomes clear. There is an incredible, long sequence beginning with Arch's departure, and the intense longing look of Harry, watching him ride away. No dialogue, only Bruce Langhorne's, melancholy guitar-based score is heard under dissolving images of Harry and Hannah and their awkward situation. The sequence ends when Hannah tells Harry she loves him and he repeats it to her, but with little conviction. Harry has 'gone home again' and, as is so often the case, he will not truly be able to return to his earlier life. Leaving the first time, and finding Arch, Harry had followed his true desire and needs. With Arch now departed, Harry can see his own mistake. The film's final sequence is a dramatic playing out of the two men's destinies. Taken prisoner by an evil villain (the single stereotyped element in this non-western), Arch knows if he sends for him, that Harry will come. The gruesome severed finger delivered by messenger recalls an ancient fairytale, like the Singing Bone, where a part of the body speaks for the character. Harry arrives to rescue Arch, but he is immediately shot, and thereby takes the place of his friend in death. His last words are the most telling in the film: "Hold me, Arch!" The men embrace in powerful image of their deep bonding. This was the main relationship of Harry's life. While it was not homosexual, his love for Arch had superseded anything he had felt for Hannah. The very final shots, of Arch returning to Hannah's farm, are ambiguous: is he coming back to her, or to the memory of Harry?

THE HIRED HAND is filmed with a sublime, impressionistic eye by Vilmos Zsigmond. This is a film of long, slow dissolves Perhaps there are one too many such effects, but they do create a fluid, timeless flow. Strict chronology is not an important element of this film. The beauty of the images may recall for some Terence Malick's DAYS OF HEAVEN. In the first half of the film, we are shown men in a natural environment that is not only beautiful, but sometime rough and foreboding. Viewers who are familiar with the novels of Cormac McCarthy, especially his 'Trilogy' that includes ALL THE PRETTY HORSES, may be reminded of that author's evocation of a stark, grim poetry in the natural world of the Southwest, where humans live out harsh lives, drifting always towards death. Also like McCarthy is the depiction of so much meaning and emotion without dialogue. It is tempting to think that, given the chance, Peter Fonda might have made a film on McCarthy's most famous novel that would have done it justice.

The culture of world cinema owes gratitude for those involved in the making, restoration and distribution of THE HIRED HAND.

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