A veteren rancher risks everything when he recruits schoolboys to man a dangerous cattle drive. One of John Wayne's solid twilight hits, co-starring Bruce Dern and Colleen Dewhurst. Year: 1972 Director: Mark Rydell Starrin... more »g: John Wayne, Roscoe Lee Browne, Bruce Dern« less
Donna M. (charmedig) from SWEETWATER, TN Reviewed on 9/21/2011...
1 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Duke and company in fine style in "The Cowboys"
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm puzzled by the negative reviews (vide supra). If the story's a little thin, then the acting more than makes up for it. John Wayne and Roscoe Lee Browne lead a cattle drive across the West with the aid of the only help they could find, schoolboys. They are trailed by some bad guys. So much for the story. But Wayne and Browne give superb performances, truly, and the boys more than hold up their end. Bruce Dern's a memorable villain who gets his. (Wayne is shot 1 hr., 50 min. into the picture--certainly not "early on"!) I rate this movie 4 stars because, sure, "Stagecoach" and "The Searchers" and the U.S. Cavalry trio rank higher; but 4 stars on the Wayne scale ain't too shabby. One day the world will come around to the realization that John Wayne was one of the greatest screen actors ever to walk through Hollywood."
The Duke...A Tough, Gruff, and... Touching Performance!
L. Shirley | fountain valley, ca United States | 07/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This review refers to the WB DVD edition of THE COWBOYS.
From 1971,THE COWBOYS finds our guy,The Duke, as an aging rancher who must hire 11 young boys to help him on a 400 mile cattle drive. He's tough and gruff, but really has a way with the kids,(only The Duke can cure a boy's stuttering in less than 2 minutes!), and soon finds himself acting as both trail boss and father to the group. The drive is rough for all and has the added suspense of some bad hombres led by Bruce Dern who are out to rustle The Duke's cattle.
Wayne, who by this time, just awed us with his on screen presence, turns in a touching performance and if it was up to me, would have recieved an Oscar for this role. Dern is the baddest of the bad as he goes after our hero. The film is not short on talent, Directed by Mark Rydell, it includes Roscoe Lee Brown, a young A. Martinez, and a small but meaty part for the wonderful Colleen Dewhurst. A nice widescreen presentation, the picture and color were good but seemed just a little dated to me.The sound remastered in DD 5.1 is fabulous. There's a great documentary included. The Breaking of Boys and The Making Of Men, talks about how the boys were selected, and how they trained for their parts. There are 13 (count em ..13) trailers of Wayne films from the 30's through the 70's, informative production notes, and has languages and subtitles in English and French.
Collector's of Wayne may find it more economical to purchase the John Wayne Collection set. Included with this fabulous film are two greats directed by John Ford, THE SEARCHERS, and STAGECOACH. Spanning 30 years of his career, it's a wonderful selection.
Saddle up and enjoy the ride... Happy Trails.....Laurie
Oldies but Goodies with The Duke: Shadow of the Eagle His Private Secretary John Wayne
One of the Duke's best!
DHC1775@aol.com | Chesnee, South Carolina | 05/22/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is absolutely one of the best of the best. John Wayne plays Wil Anderson, a rancher forced to use young boys to get his herd to market when his men desert him in search of gold. There are many wonderful messages in this film about duty, honor, and responsibility. They are messages our nation and our young people are in great need of right now. This movie contains many memorable and haunting scenes, but none more so then when Wayne is forced into a confrontation with Bruce Dern to protect the young boys he has on the cattle drive. He gives his life, and teaches them the meaning of strength, honor, and courage. I could not disagree more with Leonard Maltin's review - the message is not to seek violent revenge; the boys simply "finish the job" they were hired to do and take the money from the sale of the herd back to Wil Anderson's wife. This film captures the greatness of Wayne's legacy, and why he is so adored by millions of Americans who hold duty and courage dear. If I had to recommend only one John Wayne film to someone who had never seen one, this would be it. Truly unforgettable!"
Thinking outside of the Duke's
Me | Salem, OR United States | 09/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First of all, An Overture, Intermission, Entr'Acte, and Exit music. Rare indeed for a picture released in the 70's not to mention indicative of an epic (And in this case, also intimate) tale.
The basic story about a rancher resorting to driving his herd to market helped only by schoolboys is already a twist on familiar territory but that's just the beginning. From Bruce Derns nuanced performance (Many years before other well written Villians such as Die Hard's Alan Rickman) to Wil Andersen and the Cowboys watching a fight between the old bull's "Experience" vs. the younger one's "Muscle" as a metaphor for the entire picture, (As well as John Wayne's place in movies in 1972 among newish names like Hoffman, Voight [Both of whom Wayne beat out at the Oscars for 1969], and Deniro) to Robert Carradines Slim serenading the cattle by playing Vivaldi on his guitar, Director Mark Rydell set out to (And succeeded in) not making another "John Wayne movie."
Nowhere do we see Harry Carey Jr. or Hank Worden, or Ben Johnson, or even Edward Faulkner (How did this guy end up in so many of the Duke's pictures anyway?).
In 1948's Red River, Wayne's Tom Dunson couldn't imagine being even just a little bit wrong. By the time of The Cowboys Wayne had aged and seasoned like a fine old Oak tree and could now play the subtle shades of a man that was at times deeply stubborn ("Well Mr. Nightlinger, In my (Civil war) regiment, I was known as...Old Iron pants...you might wanna' keep that in mind".) but also, haunted by self doubt regarding his Two sons that had both died in their early Twenties ("They went bad on me...or I went bad on them"). It wasn't a cattle drive so much as it was a second chance for Andersen to be a Father ( as pointed out in one of many wonderful scenes between a rancher and his trail cook).
It's really quite amazing how different The Cowboys was from the Duke's previous pictures. From a Director he had never worked with before (who created not quite a Western revision, but with fresh, new ideas from screenwriters Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr. and respect for the star and his fans, more of an homage), to the graphic, bloody special effects make-up that Wayne was not too keen on but endured anyway, to the rare fate that befell Wil Andersen, making this, I think John Waynes best picture of the 70's.
The Cowboys is for anyone who thinks they don't like any John Wayne pictures. It may not change their minds but it might open them.
Consider the movie within the time period it portrays
Middle-Aged Professor | 09/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"No, this movie does not contain the distilled wisdom of the ages, but those who compare the movie against the accepted child-rearing practices of the present day are letting their post-modern self-righteousness flare to the point where they may need to take a "time out." It is unlikely that 12-year-olds would participate in a cattle drive, granted, but it was entirely acceptable for 16- or 17-year-olds to "do a man's work and make a man's wage" in those days. It was also a time when John Wayne's widow could not have filed an insurance claim for the stolen herd, or applied for Federal disaster relief, and the movie makes it clear that this herd represented the difference between a reasonable retirement and "working out her days as someone's fry cook." Justice was often swift and harsh in the Old West because real people suffered real consequences from the effects of crime. Therefore it was NOT a sense of vengence, as one reviewer asserts, that drove the later scenes, it was a sense of justice. And while the ages of the "cowboys" in the film are a little too young, the film accurately reflects what used to be "coming of age" in frontier America: A boy became a man when he accepted a man's responsibilities and did a man's work."