Electric Horseman

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Synopsis

A cowboy-turned-huckster unexpectedly finds love as he tries to regain his self-respect in this romantic comedy drama. Sonny Steele (Robert Redford) is a one-time rodeo star whose career as a cowboy has ground to a halt. He makes a good living as a spokesman for Ranch Breakfast, a sugar-coated cereal for kids, but he's lost most of his self-respect in the process; his boss, corporate mogul Hunt Sears (John Saxon), considers him a property rather than a human being, and Sonny has developed a serious problem with alcohol. Sears' cereal company is negotiating a highly profitable merger with another firm and brings Sonny to Las Vegas for a publicity stunt, in which Sonny, wearing a garish cowboy outfit complete with blinking lights, will ride on-stage at Caesar's Palace aboard prize-winning thoroughbred stallion Rising Star. When Sonny discovers Sears' men have drugged the horse so that it will be able to walk on an injured leg, he's appalled, and he rides Rising Star off the stage at Caesar's and into the Nevada desert, looking for grazing land where he and the horse can heal their wounds. Sears is shocked to discover that Sonny has run off with a 12 million dollars, and he realizes that Sonny knows enough to make his firm look very bad in the press, potentially scotching the merger. Sears files charges against Sonny and posts a reward for Rising Star's safe return, though he implies that it wouldn't bother him if Sonny died in the rescue attempt. Hallie Martin (Jane Fonda), a television journalist covering Sonny's Vegas appearance, is convinced that something is fishy and manages to catch up with him in the desert; as Hallie tries to get Sonny to tell her his story, the has-been cowboy and the city-girl reporter fall in love. The Electric Horseman also stars Valerie Perrine and Willie Nelson; the country & western star made his screen debut in this film and has a very memorable line about tequila and trailer hitches. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Review

Review Text A little over a decade after Jane Fonda and Robert Redford teamed up for the 1967 screen version of Barefoot in the Park, producer Ray Stark and director Sydney Pollack reunited the pair for this glossy romantic comedy. It's a slick studio product if ever there were one, with the most random and manufactured of conceits built around the two screen icons (Redford as a cowboy who sells breakfast cereal?!), and therefore an easy picture to be cynical about; the trailer screams the names of Redford and Fonda about thirty times, as if underscoring the superficiality of the packaging behind the enterprise. Fortunately, the movie rises above its synthetic origins. It soars on the strength of the ineffable chemistry between the two leads, who - it should be remembered - were arguably the biggest male and female stars in the country back in 1979, and spend the better part of two hours reminding us why. And if the formula is well-trod - screwball dialogue and situations within a modern setting - the screenplay (credited to Robert Garland, though Pollack heavily rewrote it during production) is also consistently witty and amusing enough (with a few really big laughs) to succeed. The movie benefits as well from its breathtaking rocky vistas and the neat transposition of western tropes and a "cowboy" lead into a contemporary, late '70s framework. (It's vastly superior to Fonda's awful revisionist western from the prior year, Comes a Horseman). Electric doesn't do anything to reinvent the medium, and there is nothing revelatory here, but it's still a highly enjoyable lightfooted yarn. The film's only two real flaws are a slightly excessive length, and a mercifully brief sequence that involves a lame Dukes of Hazzard-like police chase with a lot of car crashes and stunts. Other than that, it's a winner. Movie buffs should listen carefully for Pollack, whose voice can be heard twice in the film, during a phone call and subsequent radio announcement. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi

Product Details

Release Date
5/6/03 
Studio
Universal Studios
MPAA Rating
PG -- Parental guidance suggested
Length
121
Sound
  • Dolby Digital Stereo
Region
  • USA & territories, Canada
Subtitles
  • French
  • Spanish
Video Features
  • [None specified]
Number of Discs
1

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