Comes a Horseman (1978)

PG  |   |  Drama, Western, Romance  |  25 October 1978 (USA)
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Ella Connors is a single woman who gets pressured to sell her failing cattle farm to her corrupt ex suitor, Jacob Ewing. She asks for help from her neighbor, Frank Athearn. As Ella and ... See full summary »


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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Frank 'Buck' Athearn
Jacob 'J.W.' Ewing
George Grizzard ...
Neil Atkinson
Julie Blocker
Billy Joe Meynert
Virgil Hoverton
George Bascomb
James Kline ...
Ralph Cole
Emil Kroegh
Clifford A. Pellow ...
Cattle Buyer


Ella Connors is a single woman who gets pressured to sell her failing cattle farm to her corrupt ex suitor, Jacob Ewing. She asks for help from her neighbor, Frank Athearn. As Ella and Frank fight back through stampedes, jealousy, betrayal, and sabotage...they eventually find love. Written by cactusjump

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A story of love and freedom See more »


Drama | Western | Romance


PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

25 October 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Comes a Horseman Wild and Free  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(35 mm prints)| (70 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Stunt man Jim Sheppard was killed when a horse that was dragging him veered from its course and caused him to hit his head on a fence post. The scene appears in the movie, although it was cut right before Sheppard's fatal accident. See more »


After Ewing is told he will lose his ranch if he doesn't allow testing for oil, Frank and Ella are shown chasing cattle while swinging their ropes...left handed. In the next scene they are shown roping right handed. See more »

Crazy Credits

Our thanks to the Forest Service for allowing us to film in the Coconino National Forest See more »


Referenced in Avengers: United They Stand: Comes a Swordsman (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

Horsewoman. Surely?
8 May 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Comes a Horseman is directed by Alan J. Pakula and written by Dennis Lynton Clark. It stars Jane Fonda, James Caan, Jason Robards and Richard Farnsworth. Music is by Michael Small and cinematography by Gordon Willis.

It seems the ideas and willing behind Comes a Horseman are made of sturdy stuff, you sense that the makers wanted to make a reflective post-modern Western set in post World War II times. Tonally they get it mostly right, it is very sombre, both in characterisations and the changing of the times thematic beat. Plot is hardly thrilling as Robards' land baron plots to oust Fonda and Caan out of their respective homesteads in readiness for the oil company to come destroy the magnificent landscape.

Ella Connors (Fonda) is a feisty but vulnerable woman, Frank Athearn (Caan) is fresh out of service in the war and carries the emotional scars of said battles. They form an unsteady alliance to ward off Jacob Ewing (Robards), but as past turmoil's come to the surface it's touch and go as to who, if anyone, will win out.

With the Colorado landscape beautifully captured by Willis, and the performances (including an Academy Award Nomination for Farnsworth as Ella's sage old ranch hand) solid as a rock, the pic retains interest if you can tolerate the laborious pace favoured by Pakula. There's a couple of action sequences within, but they feel like afterthoughts, so we are left to buy into the rueful characterisations and their respective attempts at post war living out there on the ranges. 6.5/10

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