The Cowboys (1972)

The Cowboys (1972)

Directed by: Mark Rydell

Starring: John Wayne, Roscoe Lee Browne, Bruce Dern

Man, old and cranky John Wayne is the best John Wayne. Not that I’m that big of a fan in the first place (but mostly just because I don’t particularly like westerns or war films)… maybe it’s just because I like characters that are angry old men, and it comes so easily to the Duke.

Wayne is preparing for a big cattle drive, but there aren’t any cowhands to help him with it, as there’s been a recent gold strike and everyone is off in hopes of finding their riches. Wayne gets to choose between hiring some ex-cons or a bunch of schoolboys… and goes with the boys. Along the way they grow up a little, and the cranky old bastard starts getting attached to them. The ex-cons follow along, resentful of the way they were treated, and shoot Wayne, forcing the boys to fight back.

It’s nice to see a movie full of kids and about kids that doesn’t try to bring the whole thing down to the lowest common denominator of a dumb kids movie. I mean, it really isn’t a kids movie at all, which was a pleasant surprise. There’s some really good and believable character growth, even if the conflict at the end seems a little stapled on as an afterthought. Also, Roscoe Lee Browne is awesome as the wise old black guy who travels with them, and there are a couple points where he gives some really thrilling monologues. Overall, a pretty good film, especially considering how many cows are in it. Yes, I’m racist against cows.

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