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film

Peter Fonda’s The Hired Hand

SOMETIME IN 1969, during the making of Easy Rider, Dennis Hopper introduced his costar and producer, Peter Fonda, to Bruce Conner, the San Francisco–based artist and avant-garde filmmaker best known for the 16 mm found-footage collages he began showing in the late ’50s. “Bruce’s work was not soiled by any desire to make features,” writes Fonda in his deliriously earnest 1998 autobiography, Don’t Tell Dad. Fonda goes on to describe Conner’s visits to his home in LA. “We screened his movies and talked about our dreams. After watching his films—which I could do for hours—we often played music together.” When Fonda scouted locations for his directorial debut feature, The Hired Hand (1971), Conner made the trip with him. Although his name doesn’t appear in the credits, Conner’s influence and that of his avant-garde colleagues Stan Brakhage and Bruce Baillie—both film poets of the western

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