Jane Fonda and James Caan give stirring performances as an unlikely couple forced to fight for possession of their land in this sweeping and "enormously beautiful" (Newsweek) modern-day western. Comes A Horseman is an unfo... more »rgettable saga of unrelenting action, adventure and romance on the American frontier. When a lovely widow (Fonda) is pressured to sell her failing cattleranch to her unscrupulous and powerful ex-lover (Jason Robards), she enlists the aid of an antagonistic neighbor (Caan) in a desperate attempt to restore the ranch's fortunes. With great skill and determination, the duo struggle to rope enough cattle to pay off their debts...but their problems are just beginning. Driven by a deep-felt rage against their adversaryand a growing affection for each otherthey stand tall against stampedes, betrayal and sabotage...and triumph with shotguns blazing in a dramatic climax of nerve-shattering intensity.« less
J. Michael Click | Fort Worth, Texas United States | 12/12/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"An okay movie that could have been a great one. Certainly, the cast is not to be faulted. "Julia" co-stars and co-Oscar nominees Jane Fonda and Jason Robards again ignite sparks as cattle ranchers battling nature, economic changes, and - most notably - each other in the closing years of World War II; James Caan offers one of his most sensitively understated performances as the newcomer who becomes embroiled in their conflict. And the supporting cast is beyond reproach. There's fine work from stage and screen veteran George Grizzard, Jim Davis (Jock Ewing on TV's "Dallas), and Mark Harmon; and a particularly touching performance by the marvelous Richard Farnsworth as Fonda's aging sidekick and former mentor. Other big plusses are some gorgeous locations and stunning set decorations, all beautifully photographed by cinematographer Gordon Willis. Now ... if only the film editor had been more alert! Because Willis' breathtaking camerawork eventually turns out to be a near-fatal liability in the wrong hands. There are many instances in which the film needs to cut to a series of close-ups or at least a medium shot of the actors so that the audience can stay connected to the human drama; however, the editor remains resolutely focused on the grandeur of the scenery, leaving the viewer emotionally distant and uninvolved. This problem is compounded by the inappropriateness of Michael Small's musical score. Too often the music seems to be desperately competing for the viewer's attention, always at the expense of the actors and the screenplay. Halfway into the two-hour running time, the unrelentingly majestic visual and aural backgounds were becoming annoying irritations; before the closing credits they had developed into full-fledged nuisances.On balance, I have to admit that the film is worth a look ... especially in the widescreen format offered on the DVD release. The disc includes the Original Theatrical Trailer (which, by the way, does offer some great editing!), and a very high quality film-to-video transfer with clear, crisp sound. If only the film could be recut and rescored, then reissued as a "Director's Special Edition". Unquestionably, there's a pony buried somewhere underneath this mess! **-1/2 stars"
A Western Movie Collectors Dream
Anita C. Bryant | Moore Haven, FL USA | 08/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an ideal movie for home theatre. I grew up on a working ranch and Richard Farnsworth, James Caan and Jane Fonda are totally convincing as cowboys and cowgirl. Jason Robards is utterly evil in this movie. I've liked them all in several other movies but none are as good as this one. The breathtaking backdrop and a really well written story combined with an excellent array of talent makes this one of the treasures of my western collection."
Comes a Horseman
Steven Hellerstedt | 09/25/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
COMES A HORSEMAN is a romance wrapped in a western. The local cattle baron (Jason Robards) wants to drive out rancher Jane Fonda, who has hired on local wrangler James Caan to help her make it through one more hard year. Complicating things in this World War II era tale is the oil company that wants everybody's land. With some truly beautiful wide angle photography, a plethora of establishing shots and a dearth of tight close ups, COMES A HORSEMAN is an more an actor's than an editor's movie that works as well as it does because it has an excellent cast at the top of their game. Director Alan Pakula often pulls the camera back and allows his actors room to discover their character and the meaning of the scene. I only had two problems with this movie. I felt the ending, the final confrontation between bad guy Robards and good gal Fonda, was a bit contrived . The other problem was a puzzler - weren't their any doctors in cattle country America in 1945? A couple of characters get busted up pretty badly in the course of things and they're dumped into a bed with a damp handkerchief on the forehead with nary a doctor in sight. It didn't bother me much when Caan was laid up without professional medical care, but I hated to see poor Dodger (Richard Farnsworth) treated in such a manner. "
Dark and hauting western.very underated
The Cashmere Bookworm | 10/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is another fine example of a very underated film release during late 70s ,starring the legendary James Caan , the always superb Jane Fonda and jason Robard in a truly great villian role.They dont make this kind of film anymore.Buy the DVD and judge yourself.Dont expect to see a slam bang action western,there is a fist fight and gun fight but fast and stylishly done by the director.A cinematic masterpiece"
Great riding, gorgeous scenery, full characters
The Cashmere Bookworm | California, United States | 08/18/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The story is about a sweeping passion that you don't see much anymore --the grab for land, the insistence that a way of life stays the same.
This movie is additionally noteworthy because it garnered the late actor Richard Farnsworth an Academy Award nomination for his part as the steady and honest "Dodger." Farnsworth turns in a fine performance that is plainly and comfortably delivered.
Fonda does a great job playing the part of a tough, unsentimental, and unlikeable but tenacious hard scrabble landowner --a rarity in today's wanna-be-liked movie making machinery. Caan matches her character with an easy going but as hard driving manner, and Robards is an example of menace by long stare. The pacing of the movie is slower than anything made today, so wrap your head round 1978 and just take it in.
One of the greatest reasons to watch this movie is the horsemanship. There's some hard riding here, exemplary riding of the sort you don't see as much these days. Farnsworth had a wonderful riding style, straight and graceful. When you see him in the saddle, you miss him. Iconic, you realize how much he carried all the Westerns made from 1937 and on. This is one of those movies where the three leads seem to be easy with horses.
For sure, there were things that could have been done to give it more authenticity. But that's not how they did the Western in 1978. So to complain about it now is futile. This would make a great movie to remake if only they could find some actors who really knew how to ride like Farnsworth, Fonda & Caan.
Awards 1978: Richard Farnsworth, Best Supporting Actor Winner--National Board of Review, National Society of Film Critics; USA, Best Actor Nominee, Academy Awards, USA. Jane Fonda --Best Actress Los Angeles Film Critics Award Dennis Lynton Clark--Best Movie Script, Wester Writers of America
Western Horseman Magazine Cowboys & Indians Magazine The Cowboy Kind Book with a Forward by Richard Farnsworth The Straight Story Movie with Richard Farnsworth, for which he garned a Best Actor Nomination The Grey Fox starring Richard Farnsworth"