Search This Blog

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Film Buff: Wild Horses

In 1979, The Electric Horseman was the hot coming attraction. It starred Robert Redford, who had over the past decade become one of Hollywood's top box office draws in films such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Great Gatsby, The Sting, The Way We Were, and All the President's Men. His co-star Jane Fonda had also become a pretty big deal over the last few years in movies like Coming Home, California Suite, and The China Syndrome. With director Sydney Pollack (Three Days of the Condor, The Way We Were) at the helm, hopes were high. I guess the film didn't quite meet everyone's expectations at the time, because - prior to my seeing it years later - I only knew it as "that bad rhinestone cowboy movie." I don't know why. It made $30 million at the box office when it opened, which was not bad at all for 1979, and the performances are great.
You're sure this is what Newman wore in Hud?
The story is: Sonny Steele (Redford) is a beat-up, washed-up rodeo star reduced to hawking kids' cereal in a flashy electric costume, something he generally does in an alcoholic haze. When confronted with his new "partner" in the cereal business, Rising Star - an aging racehorse drugged by the cereal company to keep him calm at public events - something inside Sonny snaps. He and the racehorse escape down the Las Vegas strip and into the Nevada desert. Intrepid TV reporter, Hallie Martin (Fonda) tracks them down to get the story.
The rest of it I'll let you find out for yourself, but this is a good old-fashioned crowd-pleaser, and (I know this is becoming something of a catch-phrase for me) one of my favorites.

It's got a great story, solid performances, and an important message about the way that we treat our celebrities - human and horse alike.
So, fellow film-buffs, let this be a lesson to you, if a movie interests you, don't let anyone talk you out of seeing it. I put off seeing The Electric Horseman for a long time even though I've been a big fan of Robert Redford and Sydney Pollack. So, if you haven't seen it, check it out. And if you are one of those people who just doesn't care for it, then we'll just have to respectfully disagree.
By the way, this is Willie Nelson's first film and Wilford Brimley's second, and they're both pretty darn good in it.
And, just for fun, here is probably my favorite scene in the movie. It could be a bit of a spoiler, so you might want to wait, but I really don't think it gives much of the plot away, and it does happen fairly early on in the film.

Wow. Great scene.
Now, the rumor is that Robert Redford did all of his own riding stunts in the film. I'm not sure about that, because I think I see a stuntman a couple of times in the above clip, but I'll buy that Redford did most of his own riding stunts. Speaking of buying, evidently Robert Redford bought the horse after filming had completed.

1 comment:

Ekwoman said...

Why I was allowed to see this in the theater when it came out, is beyond me (I was 11). I really enjoyed it and saw it on VHS a few times in the early 80s. I recently saw it about a year or two ago, and I remembered more action in seemed to drag a bit for me. Still, though...Redford and Fonda. Nice trip down memory lane.