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Cowboys, The (1972)

John Wayne plays Will Andersen, a 60-year-old cowboy who laments the passing of the “old” west when a man’s handshake was his bond.

Will needs to get his herd of cattle 400 miles to market but the cowboys he hired have all run off to join a gold rush. So has every man within a 20-mile radius. So who will help Will drive his cows?

His problems are solved when he wakes one day to find a gaggle of schoolboys outside his house applying for the job.

The ‘audition’ involves trying to stay on a horse called Crazy Alice for “a ten count”. Slim does it. Homer does it. Fats does it. B-B-Bob Wilson . . . Charlie Schwartz (a young Jewish boy) and finally Alice succumbs to a wild young lad named Cimarron who admits to being “a mistake of nature”.

Will takes the 11 boys on the cattle drive. They run into a nutcase ex-jailbird (Bruce Dern) who shoots Will in the back and deprives the kids of their leader.

The rest of the film is a tale of revenge.

Mark Rydell (Cinderella Liberty) directs an unexciting production, although performances by some of the younger actors – such as A. Martinez (as Cimarron) and Robert Carradine (as Slim) – are memorable. Roscoe Lee Browne is absolutely marvellous.

Will Andersen
John Wayne
Jebediah Nightlinger
Roscoe Lee Browne
Long Hair
Bruce Dern
Colleen Dewhurst
Alfred Barker Jr.
Nicolas Beauvy
Steve Benedict
Slim Honeycutt
Robert Carradine
Norman Howell
Charlie Schwartz
Stephen R. Hudis
Stuttering Bob
Sean Kelly
A Martinez
Hardy Fimps
Clay O’Brien
Jimmy Phillips
Sam O’Brien
Homer Weems
Mike Pyeatt
Slim Pickens
Annie Andersen
Sarah Cunningham
Ellen Price
Allyn Ann McLerie
Maggie Costain
Matt Clark
Jerry Gatlin
Walter Scott
Henry Williams
Richard Farnsworth
Red Tucker
Wallace Brooks
Charise Cullin

Mark Rydell