Hearts of the West

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Hearts of the West
Directed by Howard Zieff
Produced by Tony Bill
Written by Rob Thompson
Starring Jeff Bridges
Andy Griffith
Donald Pleasence
Blythe Danner
Alan Arkin
Music by Ken Lauber
Cinematography Mario Tosi
Edited by Edward Warschilka
Release dates
  • October 8, 1975 (1975-10-08)
Running time
102 minutes
Country United States
Language English

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

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.


Lewis Tater (Jeff Bridges), a 1930s-era 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, and is attacked by one of the men. He escapes his attacker and steals their car, pulling over when it runs out of gas.

He wanders through the desert and happens upon a threadbare film-unit grinding out "B" westerns called Tumbleweed Productions. He catches a lift with the cowboy actors to Los Angeles. After applying 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".[1]


It was named one of the National Board of Review's Top Ten Films for 1975.[2] Arkin won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor.[3]


  1. ^ Roger Ebert (January 1, 1975). "Hearts of West [sic]". Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  2. ^ "1975 Award Winners". National Board of Review. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  3. ^ "1975 Awards". New York Film Critics Circle. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 

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