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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 »
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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

When Mr. Nightlinger (Roscoe Lee Brown) first meets John Wayne's character Mr. Anderson and is asked about his experience in cattle drives....he mentions the Oregon trail, Chisum and Sante Fe. John Wayne played John Chisum in the film "Chisum" previously in 1970. See more »

Goofs

When the old bull and young bull are fighting, the old bull is a Brahman cross bull, probably a beefmaster or beefmaster type. This is easily identified by the loose skin, particularly around the sheath, and slightly larger ears. However, the first Brahman cattle were imported into the United States in 1854 from India and were used in a circus; cattle for breeding were not imported until the end of the 1800s. These cattle were kept solely in the Gulf states until well into the 1900s due to the fact that they are extremely heat-tolerant but do very poorly in colder climates. Even today's Brahman and cross cattle could not survive in the extreme winter weather of the north. (See: American Brahman Breeders Association, History of Brahman Cattle) While this would be unnoticed by anyone who was not very familiar with breeds of cattle, it would never occur in real life. See more »

Quotes

[before fighting Long Hair]
Asa Watts: I'm thirty years older than you are. I had my back broke once, and my hip twice. And on my worst day I could beat the hell out of you.
Asa Watts: [smiles, shakes his head] I don't think so.
Wil Andersen: You will.
[Knocks him down with a big left]
See more »

Alternate Versions

During its roadshow release, the film featured - like most films shown in a roadshow format - an overture (heard on tape just before the film began), an intermission with entr'acte music, and exit music (heard after the film had ended). When the film went on general release, all of those elements were removed and the film was shown from beginning to end with no interruption. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Running Scared (2006) 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

 
"We're Burning Daylight"
7 February 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

I've always had a feeling that John Wayne had some kind of health crisis and deliberately chose The Cowboys to be his swan song film. When it didn't work out that way, he went on and did some more until The Shootist.

Ever since his Oscar in True Grit, Wayne began playing men of his own age in his films and a common thread seemed to be imparting values to the next generations whether they wanted them or not. You can see that readily in films like Rio Lobo, Big Jake, Chisum, The Train Robbers, and Cahill, U.s. Marshal. Most especially in The Shootist with Ron Howard as his pupil.

But in The Cowboys he had a mess of pupils. Wayne's a hardworking rancher whose hands have deserted him because of a rumored gold strike. He has to get his cattle to market, so out of desperation he hires a bunch pubescent and pre-pubescent youngsters from the town.

The trail drive is quite the lesson for these kids. They learn about life that it is about hard work, responsibility, and keeping your given word. Wayne gets a second chance at fatherhood, he didn't do such a good job of it with his own two sons. More like grandfatherhood at his age, but the kids learn well.

Along as a second role model is Roscoe Lee Browne. Possessor of one of the greatest speaking voices in the English speaking world, Browne is the first black man they've ever met. In fact one of the kids uses the "N" word when first meeting him, out of ignorance more than racism. Browne sets them straight by example more than preaching.

The oldest two kids, A Martinez and Robert Carradine, have gone on to some considerable adult careers which they are still enjoying. All the kids are a winning bunch however.

A couple of the Duke's later westerns like The Train Robbers and Cahill I found to be flawed. Not so here. Director Mark Rydell keeps this one going at a good pace and does wonders with his cast of all ages.


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