Robert Redford and Jane Fonda were well cast in Sydney Pollack’s The Electric Horseman – He as former rodeo champion Sonny Steele now reduced to advertising breakfast cereal, she as ambitious TV newswoman Hallie Martin who follows his trail when he steals a $12 million thoroughbred horse – a retired racehorse called “Rising Star” – from a large food company and heads for the wide-open spaces.
When Sonny arrives in Las Vegas for an event at which he’s expected to ride Rising Star during a garish stage show, he realises that the magnificent animal has been drugged to ensure compliance, which offends Sonny’s long-suppressed nobility.
Strapping on his lightbulb-festooned costume – hence the movie’s title – Sonny climbs onto Rising Star and rides the horse right out of a casino and into the surrounding desert, stealing the animal with the goal of setting it free.
Hallie joins Sonny on the trail and they evolve from idealistically opposed sparring partners to simpatico lovers.
Despite its title and sparky lead performances this early eco-warning tale about mindless consumerism carries too little charge.
It’s a solid enough tale, but it all becomes excessively preachy under Pollack’s heavy direction – he doesn’t seem able to film a sunset without silhouetting people against it.