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.
Roscoe Lee Browne
Alfred Barker Jr.
Stephen R. Hudis
Allyn Ann McLerie