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Film / The Hired Hand

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The Hired Hand is a 1971 American Western film directed by Peter Fonda, and starring Fonda, Warren Oates, and Verna Bloom.

Harry Collings (Fonda) has drifted from job to job throughout the American Southwest for seven years, alongside Arch Harris (Oates). One day, Collings decides to return to the wife he left before, Hannah (Bloom), and the embittered woman only lets him stay if he agrees to move in as a hired hand. Problems arise when an enemy from his travels interrupts his life.

This film features examples of:

  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Hannah rather unsurprisingly gives the cold shoulder to Collings when he comes back after seven years, but gradually the distrust and unease caused by years of estrangement slip away, and the two begin to become close again.
  • Downer Ending: Just as Collings feels willing to settle down with Hannah again, McVey and his hooligans reappear and kidnap Harris, forcing Collings to leave Hannah again, this time to save his friend. In a subsequent brutal shootout with McVey's gang, all of the villains are killed, but Collings is fatally wounded.