CABARET CINEMA: THE HIRED HAND (Peter Fonda, 1971)
Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th St. at Seventh Ave.
Friday, November 14, free with $10 bar minimum, 9:30
Series continues Fridays through December 5
After many years away from the homestead, Harry Collings (first-time-director Peter Fonda) returns to his farm, only to find that his wife (Verna Bloom) has kept herself rather busy once she assumed he was not coming back, in The Hired Hand, a so-called hippie Western written by Scottish novelist Alan Sharp, who also wrote Ulzana’s Raid and Night Moves. Warren Oates is his usual fine self as Harry’s dedicated sidekick, Arch Harris, as they do battle with the likes of the evil McVey (Severn Darden). The quiet, beautiful Fonda is like a Zen cowboy, trusting in karma to right the world’s wrongs, but that doesn’t always work out. Fonda considers the film, photographed by a young Vilmos Szigmond (McCabe & Mrs. Miller, The Deer Hunter), to be a Greek tragedy within a Western; indeed, it’s a little gem that that goes way beyond the trappings of the genre, laying the groundwork for such later anti-Westerns as Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven. The film is being shown November 14 as part of the Rubin Museum Cabaret Cinema series “My Formative Years,” curated by artist Francesco Clemente in conjunction with his current solo show, “Inspired by India,” and will be introduced by playwright Neil LaBute. Clemente says about the film, “I’m in favor of psychedelia in all manifestations and to find psychedelia in a Western is always nice when it happens, but it never happens.” The film series continues with Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain on November 21 and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom on November 28 (introduced by choreographer Karole Armitage), before concluding with Gianfranco Rosi’s Sacro GRA on December 5.