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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.

Director:

Mark Rydell

Writers:

William Dale Jennings (novel), Irving Ravetch (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Wayne ... Wil Andersen
Roscoe Lee Browne ... Jebediah Nightlinger
Bruce Dern ... Long Hair
Colleen Dewhurst ... Kate
Alfred Barker Jr. Alfred Barker Jr. ... Fats - Cowboy
Nicolas Beauvy Nicolas Beauvy ... Dan - Cowboy
Steve Benedict Steve Benedict ... Steve - Cowboy
Robert Carradine ... Slim Honeycutt - Cowboy
Norman Howell ... Weedy - Cowboy (as Norman Howell Jr.)
Stephen R. Hudis ... Charlie Schwartz - Cowboy (as Stephen Hudis)
Sean Kelly Sean Kelly ... Stuttering Bob - Cowboy
A Martinez ... Cimarron - Cowboy
Clay O'Brien ... Hardy Fimps - Cowboy
Sam O'Brien Sam O'Brien ... Jimmy Phillips - Cowboy
Mike Pyeatt Mike Pyeatt ... Homer Weems - Cowboy
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

The youngest was nine. There wasn't one of them over fifteen. At first, he couldn't stand the sight of them. At last, he couldn't take his eyes away. See more »


Certificate:

GP | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

13 January 1972 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cowboys See more »

Filming Locations:

Durango, Colorado, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$7,500,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (35 mm prints)| 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| 4-Track Stereo (some 35 mm prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Wayne actually pleaded with director Mark Rydell to allow him to play Wil Anderson. See more »

Goofs

When Mr. Andersen is in the school, he puts a mark for Belle Fouche, SD on the board. He states his ranch is here, 400 miles away, and he draws a line headed NW of Belle Fouche. This would place him about Lewistown, MT. It is doubtful that Mr. Andersen would travel 400 miles to Belle Fouche, when Bozeman and Billings are both much closer, and in dire need of beef. The first big herd of cattle didn't come to MT until after the war (1866) so there was no way that they would have taken them east to send them further east. See more »

Quotes

Wil Andersen: Now... this is the "Double O", this is Belle Fourche. In between is four hundred miles of the meanest country in the West. And the only way we're gonna get through is if you take orders. Is that clear?
School boys: Yes, sir.
Wil Andersen: Bring a bed roll, couple of good ropes, horse if ya got one. You'll get the best food in the territory, no rest, damn little sleep. And fifty big silver dollars, IF we make it to Belle Fourche. Now, you'll show up at my place first Monday after schools out at 5:00 a.m. And come with ...
See more »

Alternate Versions

When the film was originally released in the UK it carried a 'AA' rating, preventing an under-14 year old audience from seeing the movie. When the distributors asked the UK censor if this could be changed he suggested removing the scene with the wagon full of prostitutes, thus deleting Colleen Dewhurst's entire role in the film, and in doing so the film was re-certified with an 'A' rating (suitable for all). Additionally cuts were made to tone down some of the more violent scenes including the fight between Wil and Long Hair, the shooting of Wil, and a man being dragged by his horse. Later cinema showings and all video versions restored the Colleen Dewhurst scene but retained the violence cuts (totalling 1 min 30 secs). For the upgraded 12-rated 2005 DVD the film was passed fully uncut. See more »


Soundtracks

Home on the Range
(uncredited)
Music by Daniel E. Kelley
Lyrics by Brewster M. Higley
Sung by the boys in camp
See more »

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User Reviews

John Wayne's good...Roscoe Lee Browne is better!
10 January 2003 | by musicninaSee all my reviews

This movie, for all that it's a fairly straight forward, shoot-em-up western, has some unique points that make it extremely artful. The boys were well-cast (though A. Martinez seemed to struggle in a role that was not fully developed), and those difficult psychological moments which were so important to the book translated to the screen without too much trouble. As is always the case, the book is able to take more time to expand upon the characters more thoroughly; if the movie left you a bit dry, visit the library to find the rest of the story!

The reasons I watch this show repeatedly are two of my favorite fellows: Roscoe Lee Browne and John Williams. Roscoe Lee Browne is able to sell lines that simply wouldn't work coming from somebody else (his dialogue with Coleen Dewhurst is priceless), and he is the unique feature that makes this film work. He graciously shares the screen with his co-actors as necessary, but he easily walks off with the movie nonetheless. John Williams' fantastic score could stand alone; though it is occasionally a little too cheery for the moment (after all, this is a pretty gruesome film, if you really think about it), it covers all the bases of the movie. Youthful innocence, becoming men, sorrow, success -- it's all right there in the score. Don't expect Star Wars music; frequently understated, the music carries a supporting role. As both John Williams and Roscoe Lee Browne displayed here, it is often the supporting actors that make the show a success!


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