Hearts of the West

Hearts of the West, released in Europe as Hollywood Cowboy, is a 1975 American comedy film directed by Howard Zieff, and starring Jeff Bridges, Andy Griffith, Blythe Danner, and Alan Arkin. Set in the 1930s, the story revolves around a wannabe Western writer who finds himself cast as a leading man in several B-movie westerns.

Hearts of the West
Directed byHoward Zieff
Produced byTony Bill
Written byRob Thompson
StarringJeff Bridges
Andy Griffith
Donald Pleasence
Blythe Danner
Alan Arkin
Music byKen Lauber
CinematographyMario Tosi
Edited byEdward Warschilka
Distributed byUnited Artists (United States/Canada)
Cinema International Corporation (International)
Release date
  • October 8, 1975 (1975-10-08)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.6 million[1]

Despite good reviews, the film was not a hit upon release in 1975 but in years since, it has developed a significant cult following among midnight showings and college campuses.

Screenwriter Rob Thompson launched his career with this film. He went on to be a major creative talent on the television series Northern Exposure (for which he won an Emmy) and Monk.


In 1933, Lewis Tater (Jeff Bridges), an aspiring novelist who harbors dreams of becoming the next Zane Grey, decides to leave his family home in Iowa to go to the University of Titan in Nevada so he can soak up the western atmosphere. He arrives to find that there is no university, only a mail order correspondence course scam run by two crooks out of the local hotel. He tries to spend the night at the hotel, but is attacked by one of the men in an attempted robbery. He escapes his attacker, grabs his suitcase, and steals their car to get away, but after awhile it runs out of gas. He looks in the car trunk, and finds a toolbox containing a revolver and ammunition. Afraid the two crooks are still in pursuit of him, he takes the tool box and his suitcase and walks off into the desert.

Wandering and exhausted, the next morning he happens upon a threadbare film-unit from Tumbleweed Productions grinding out a "B" western. Later that day, he catches a lift with the cowboy actors to Los Angeles. After applying for work at Tumbleweed, he is referred by crusty old extra Howard Pike (Andy Griffith) to the Rio, a western-themed restaurant. While washing dishes at the Rio, he is called by Tumbleweed, where Howard mentors him to be an actor. After proving himself as a stuntman, unit manager Kessler (Alan Arkin) offers him a speaking role. Tater then falls in love with spunky script girl Miss Trout (Blythe Danner). Meanwhile, the crooks trace him to Los Angeles to retrieve the safe-box containing their money that was in the car stolen by Lewis.



Roger Ebert called it "a lovely little comedy, a movie to feel fond of" and that Bridges "brings a nice complexity to the role".[2]


It was named one of the National Board of Review's Top Ten Films for 1975.[3] Arkin won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor.[4]

See also


  1. SECOND ANNUAL GROSSES GLOSS Byron, Stuart. Film Comment; New York Vol. 13, Iss. 2, (Mar/Apr 1977): 35-37,64.
  2. Roger Ebert (January 1, 1975). "Hearts of West [sic]". Retrieved March 22, 2015.
  3. "1975 Award Winners". National Board of Review. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
  4. "1975 Awards". New York Film Critics Circle. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
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