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The Hired Hand Blu-ray Review

The Hired Hand.jpg

“The Hired Hand” is a quality western film.

After drifting along together for awhile, 3 men (Harry, Archie, and Dan) are plotting their next month. Dan and Archie want to head to the California coast while Harry has decided to return home to the wife and child he left behind. Unfortunately, after stopping off in a nowhere town, things go south when Dan is shot and killed. Harry and Archie get a little revenge out of respect for Dan and then venture off together to Harry’s home. Upon arrival, Harry’s wife Hannah isn’t overly thrilled by his return, but Harry tries to make amends and vows to stay to live a peaceful life. Will the peace and quiet last?

Released in 1971, “The Hired Hand” is an arty and often poetic western that thinks outside the box of its genre coventions. Yes, there are still familiar tropes and, sure, the film does contain a revenge plot, but there’s more going on here than strictly revenge. At its core this Alan Sharp scripted story is about friendship and family. The film is certainly at its best when it focuses on the character dynamics.

The acting here is also first rate. Peter Fonda (who also directs here) gives a quiet and understated performance as Harry. Verna Bloom (Hannah) shines as the lonely, hurt wife who just wants her family back together. The real MVP here is Warren Oates as Archie- the tough, loyal friend of Harry.

As engaging as the film may be, the direction is a bit uneven. Fonda instills a lot of now dated 70’s sensibilities with too much slow-motion, montages, lingering shots, and clumsy edits. Truthfully, the style gets in the way of the movie at times in terms of the pacing. Luckily, the cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond manages to cover up some of the directorial blemishes by giving you a lot to look at here with impressive shots and footage of picturesque locals.


Presentation: 1.85:1 1080p. How does it look? A beautiful transfer that really showcases the breathtaking exteriors shot by cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond.

Audio Track: Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM. How does it sound? While a 1.0 may sound underwhelming, it’s not. This is an impactful Mono track. The underrated score by Bruce Langhorne really stands out here in particular.

Extras: * Stills gallery * A booklet featuring credits and an essay by writer/critic Kim Morgan * 4 trailers, 4 TV spots and 4 radio spots * 6 deleted scenes including an alternate ending * “Warren Oates And Peter Fonda At The NFT”- Audio Q&A with the 2 from the National Film Theatre * “Martin Scorsese On The Hired Hand”- Scorsese geeks out about the movie. * “The Odd Man”- A 1978 documentary on screenwriters Alan Sharp, Edward Boyd and Gordon Williams. * “The Return Of The Hired Hand”- A 2003 making of featurette complete with inerviews with cast and crew members * A thoughtful solo commentary by Peter Fonda


September 16, 2018 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , ,

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