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Comes A Horseman: Oil or the Land

April 3, 2011

I knew she would never let you oil people piss on that land even it meant losing it to me.

Robards to Oil Speculator

Whose the top dog little sister?
The one who fights the hardest.

Farnsworth to Fonda

Man, do I love this film. I am watching one of my very favorites, Comes A Horseman, starring Jane Fonda, James Caan, Jason Robards, and Richard Farnsworth. It’s a about a woman battling oil interests over her cattle ranch.

When Farnsworth is thrown from his horse after explosions from oil exploration goes off, it just chaps my hide. When he struggles to mount his horse one last time, that says it all about a dying way of life. But the ending makes an unequivocal statement — you must fight for what you believe is right. And protecting the land from oil exploitation is the right thing.

Check it out over at Hulu:

Richard Farnsworth received an Oscar nomination for this 1978 film, directed by the late Alan J. Pakula. He plays an aging ranch hand in the late 1940s, working for Jane Fonda. She’s being pressured by her greedy neighbor, Jason Robards, to sell him her land–this after he has had her father murdered to expedite the sale. Robards wants the land because he knows it’s full of oil, but he’s not about to tell her that. Rather, he relentlessly strong-arms her and the rest of his neighbors, resorting to violence and killing when he doesn’t get his way, knowing he’s already bought the cooperation of the law. But Fonda, aided by returning World War II veteran and cowpuncher James Caan, stands up to Robards, setting off an almost biblically violent confrontation. Comes a Horseman was sumptuously photographed by Gordon Willis, who captures the true sweep of the wide open spaces, and strong acting overcomes what charitably could be described as a stately pace. As for Farnsworth, he brings a tastily understated quality to the role of the old cowpoke who knows he’s signed on for his last roundup but has the grit to stick it out. –Marshall Fine

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