When one of his two riding companions is shot and killed, Harry Collings (Peter Fonda) postpones plans to giddy-up to California, instead opting to return home to the wife (Verna Bloom) he deserted. She's naturally wary, scared of being hurt again, but agrees he and his remaining pal (Warren Oates) can hang around as hired hands. It's a good arrangement, but Harry's past catches up with him just as he's settling into paradise...
Originally released in 1971 and now all but forgotten, The Hired Hand saw Fonda climb into the director's saddle for the first time. It's a well-acted but technically clumsy Western, peppered with slo-mo, dissolves, zooms and super-impositions, all part of a self-conscious effort to make the action dreamlike. Instead it's dreary. A missable oddity.