My heroes have always
been cowboys
They still are, it seems
Sadly in search of, and
one step in back of
Themselves and their
slow moving dreams.
            — Sharon Vaughn

For Bronco Billy (Clint Eastwood), the owner of a traveling Wild West show, every new day brings a fresh problem. He doesn't have enough money to pay his troupe of entertainers, and the female assistants in his knife-throwing act keep quitting. But Bronco Billy carries on because he believes in the American Dream. Billy, you see, is really a former New Jersey shoe salesman who tried on a cowboy persona and found that it fit. Anything is possible in the land of the free where individuals can become whoever they want to be.

Bronco Billy's entourage consists of Scatman Crothers as a ringmaster whose smile can light up any tent, Bill McKinney as a one-handed roustabout whose bark is bigger than his bite, Sam Bottoms as a lasso artist whose past as a dancer in Vietnam comes out, Dan Vadis as a snake wrestler, and Sierra Pecheur as the Indian's Wife. This group is thrown out of sync when Antoinette Lily (Sondra Locke), a haughty New York heiress, is hired as Billy's assistant. She's just been robbed and stranded by her new husband (Geoffrey Lewis). Antoinette is ice to Billy's warmth. Can he melt that sarcastic exterior and turn off her head so she can listen with her heart? Cowboys and clowns are miracle workers.

This is the seventh film Clint Eastwood has directed and it is a winner in every regard — acting, music, settings, and cinematic style. Bronco Billy is a genuine screen hero who wonderfully incarnates the place that cowboys occupy in our slow moving dreams. His loyalty to his own, his love of kids, and his sense of perseverance in the face of trouble make him indomitable. The movie's happy ending wears well and the use of "the Stars and Stripes Forever" reinforces the gladsome good feeling of the last scene.