Retired rodeo champion Jeff McCloud agrees to mentor novice rodeo contestant Wes Merritt against the wishes of Merritt's wife who fears the dangers of this rough sport.


, (uncredited)
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Complete credited cast:
Louise Merritt
Jeff McCloud
Wes Merritt
Booker Davis
Al Dawson
Buster Burgess
Carol Nugent ...
Rusty Davis
Maria Hart ...
Rosemary Maddox
Lorna Thayer ...
Grace Burgess
Jeremiah Watrus
Karen Randle ...
Ginny Logan (as Karen King)
Red Logan
Eleanor Todd ...


When he sustains a rodeo injury, star rider Jeff McCloud returns to his hometown after many years of absence. He signs on as a hired hand with a local ranch, where he befriends fellow ranch hand Wes and his wife Louise. Wes has big dreams of owning his own little farm, and rodeo winnings could help finance it. Wes convinces Jeff to coach him in the rodeo ways, but Louise has her doubts. She doesn't want her man to end up a broken down rodeo bum like Jeff McCloud. Despite Louise's concern, the threesome hit the road in their Woody, chucking a secure present for an unknown future. Will they find success or sorrow? This picture features plenty of rodeo action and thrills. Written by Thomas McWilliams <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Fast Buck... A Fast Bronc... A Fast Thrill!


Action | Drama | Sport | Western


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Release Date:

24 October 1952 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cowpoke  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The world's first rodeo was held July 4, 1869 in Deer Trail, Colorado. Cities such as Pecos, TX, Prescott, AZ, and Payson, AZ have also laid claim to the title, but Deer Trail has been officially recognized by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) as the first. See more »


During the Tucson Rodeo sequence, bull rider [Chet?] Peterson switches hands mid-ride. See more »


Jeff McCloud: Hope's a funny thing. You can have it even when there ain't no reason for it.
See more »


Referenced in Robert Mitchum: The Reluctant Star (1991) See more »

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User Reviews

Lousy title but a really good movie
29 May 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Don't let the title fool you. Apparently part of the studio's design to tempt a broader audience in to see this film, 'The Lusty Men' is just not a very good title for it. Two other titles were considered - one even worse, "This Man is Mine", and one that was better if not exciting, "Cowpoke". Briefly, this is the story of a young ranch worker (Arthur Kennedy) and his new bride (Susan Hayward) trying to save up money to buy a ranch of their own. Faded rodeo star Mitchum crosses their path and changes their lives, showing the young husband Kennedy a shortcut to big money by riding in the rodeo. There's a lot of friction resulting as time goes on, with Kennedy hooked on the easy money and attention, while Hayward fears for his safety and blames Mitchum for driving a wedge between the couple. I won't give away any of the story beyond that.

I do want to give a broader review of this movie for the type that it is. I don't think I've ever seen a seriously-made movie which depicts rodeos or bull riding that was not at least fairly compelling, as this one is. Whether it's 'The Lusty Men' or 'Eight Seconds' or 'The Ride', those who ride rodeo put their lives and safety on the line for relatively little pay in most cases. They pursue their sport with an intensity that may be hard to understand for those who live a more ordinary existence. Just as a compulsive gambler gets that little rush every time he scratches off a lottery ticket or pulls the handle on a slot machine, every time the bull or bronc rider nods his head and the chute gate swings open, he has a brief chance at success and a win and the thrill that goes with it - but he has hundreds, maybe thousands of people playing the game along with him. If he has a great ride, the crowd goes wild. If he gets bucked off, or gets hurt - maybe even killed - he has done so trying to please all those people in addition to himself.

The complexities of the motivation of the rodeo rider belie what some may feel to be a very simple or even 'dumb' pursuit. It is these motivations which create the opportunity for fascinating characters living lives that follow different rules. They live outside the box, even now as they have for decades, in pursuit of their dreams. That's why 'The Lusty Men' and the other rodeo / bull riding films I've seen have been so good. When you start with characters filled with the 'heart and try' to compete at rodeo, people who are not so bound to logic and common-sense, the storyline possibilities are nearly endless.

Things in the world of rodeo have changed since this movie was made. As one other reviewer pointed out, a rodeo rider of the past having to retrieve his winnings at a saloon after having gotten banged up riding that day would be the perfect formula for the start of a drinking problem. Fortunately, they don't get their winnings at a saloon anymore. On the other hand, the 'buckle bunnies' who pursue rodeo riders are still drawn to the lean, lanky, quietly courageous cowboy no matter whether he rode for eight seconds or got bucked off in two. He doesn't need to be a big money winner, because the cowboy's appeal has never been about money. To the contrary - his lack of wealth may be part of his appeal by making him seem more down-to-Earth and approachable, maybe even vulnerable because he is nearly broke. In this movie however, the young cowboy / rising rodeo star does attract the wrong kind of women because he has amassed some money winnings.

You don't have to be a fan of rodeo or bull riding to enjoy this movie. While it does revolve around those sports, the real story is what happens to the young couple and the old rodeo star who enters their lives.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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