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The Cowboys (1972)

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Rancher Wil Andersen is forced to hire inexperienced boys as cowhands in order to get his herd to market on time but the rough drive is full of dangers and a gang of cattle rustlers is trailing them.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Alfred Barker Jr. ...
Nicolas Beauvy ...
Dan - Cowboy
Steve Benedict ...
Steve - Cowboy
Weedy - Cowboy (as Norman Howell Jr.)
Charlie Schwartz - Cowboy (as Stephen Hudis)
Sean Kelly ...
Sam O'Brien ...
Jimmy Phillips - Cowboy
Mike Pyeatt ...


When his cattle drivers abandon him for the gold fields, rancher Wil Andersen is forced to take on a collection of young boys as his drivers in order to get his herd to market in time to avoid financial disaster. The boys learn to do a man's job under Andersen's tutelage; however, neither Andersen nor the boys know that a gang of cattle thieves is stalking them. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


All they wanted was their chance to be men...and he gave it to them. See more »


GP | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

13 January 1972 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cowboys  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(35 mm prints)| (70 mm prints)| (some 35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
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Did You Know?


Film debut of Robert Carradine. See more »


When Mr. Andersen visits the second time to tell the boys he's hiring them, both Fats and Hardy's hairstyle changes during the scene. See more »


Jebediah Nightlinger: [referring to the madam Kate Collingwood's offer of sexual favor] Well, I have the inclination, the maturity, and the wherewithal... but unfortunately, I don't have the time.
See more »


Referenced in Ben 10: Ben 10 vs. Negative 10 Pt. 2 (2007) See more »


Home on the Range
Music by Daniel E. Kelley
Lyrics by Brewster M. Higley
Sung by the boys in camp
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User Reviews

I have watched it every year for 34 years!
6 December 2006 | by See all my reviews

The Cowboys has never gotten the attention it deserves. I saw it at age 13 when it was released and loved it. Wayne's performance is much more mature and deep than his Oscar winner as Rooster Cogburn. Roscoe Lee Browne's performance helped to dispel racial stereotypes in westerns. And Bruce Dern's riveting psychopathic role as a child abuser and back shooter brought him death threats. The Cowboys has it all. Great scenery, action, drama, solid acting and a great musical score by John Williams. Even the small parts with Slim Pickens and Colleen Dewhurst are jewels. Every teenage boy should see this film and John Wayne lovers should revisit this beautiful film.

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