A widow with a young daughter travels to a ranch in Wyoming to manage the household of a rancher. After a while the man and woman develop a relationship that leads to a marriage. But life in the harsh place takes its toll.


Richard Pearce


Beth Ferris (screenplay), William Kittredge (additional scenes and dialogue) (as Bill Kittredge)
4 wins. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Rip Torn ... Clyde Stewart
Conchata Ferrell ... Elinore Randall Stewart
Barry Primus ... Jack
Megan Folsom ... Jerrine
Lilia Skala ... Mrs. Landauer
Amy Wright ... Clara Jane
Jerry Hardin ... Cattlebuyer
Mary Boylan Mary Boylan ... Ma Gillis
Jeff Boschee Jeff Boschee ... Land Office Agent #1
Robert Overholzer Robert Overholzer ... Land Office Agent #2
Bob Sirucek Bob Sirucek ... Dan Byrd
Marvin Berg Marvin Berg ... Justice of the Peace
Gary Voldseth Gary Voldseth ... Cowboy
Mike Robertson Mike Robertson ... Cowboy
Doug Johnson Doug Johnson ... Cowboy


Widowed Elinor Randall and her young daughter Jerrine arrive in a barren stretch of Wyoming in 1910 after Elinor's application for work as a housekeeper is accepted by Clyde Stewart, a rancher. The work is back-breaking and the isolation is brutal, particularly as winter arrives. Elinor begins to think about homesteading her own property near Stewart's ranch, but Stewart tries to dissuade her with explanations about the killing conditions and poor rewards, especially for a woman with no man to help her ranch. Although their temperaments are different and little affection exists, Elinor and Stewart agree to marry and combine homesteads. What lies ahead is the severest test of all. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Heartland is about roots and origins. Heartland is about love and survival.


Western | Drama


PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Letters written by Elinore Pruitt Stewart provided the basis for the film. These letters dated from April 1909 to November 1913 and were first printed in "The Atlantic Monthly." See more »


The story is set in 1910. When Elinore and Jerrine are riding across the prairie, they are singing the hymn "In The Garden" which was published in 1912, according to Wiki. See more »


Featured in Sneak Previews: The Best of 1981 (1982) See more »

User Reviews

Interesting adaptation of an Arcadian vision
1 April 2004 | by henryfieldsSee all my reviews

Heartland is based on the letters of Elinore Pruitt Stewart collected in Letters of a Woman Homesteader. For anyone who is familiar with both works, it is obvious that while the initial subject matter is the same, the intentions of each are vastly different.

If you are looking for the sweet, Arcadian version of life as an American homesteader, then read Letters. However, if you want to see a brutally honest picture of what it takes to make it on the frontier, then watch Heartland. Each has its own appeal. Letters and Heartland are wonderful works, and are highly recommended for any student of the American West.

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Release Date:

22 September 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Heartland See more »

Filming Locations:

Wheatland County, Montana, USA See more »


Box Office


$600,000 (estimated)
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Technical Specs


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