Former national rodeo champion Sonny Steele (Robert Redford) has thrown in the towel to become the spokesman for Ranch Cereal. Now in the pay of vast business conglomerate Ampco, Sonny’s personal appearances are aided by his garish electrified cowboy suit and hindered by his drunkenness, and matters come to a head at a flashy Las Vegas convention when he’s supposed to ride Rising Star, a $12m racehorse, onstage. Discovering that the horse has been doped, Sonny rides defiantly offstage and absconds into the desert in a bid to restore Rising Star to freedom. Investigative journalist Hallie Martin (Jane Fonda) goes after Sonny to nail a juicy scoop but ends up with considerably more as she tracks him down and starts to fall for his charms. Several interested parties are in hot pursuit, however, including the state police, the FBI, rival TV networks and a vengeful Ampco, which wants its valuable property back. Willie Nelson plays Sonny’s laid-back rodeo pal Wendell, Valerie Perrine is Sonny’s former wife Charlotta, and John Saxon is the ruthless Ampco head honcho Hunt Sears.