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The Cowboys

I know, I know, another Western from me...

Review #108: The Cowboys

Rancher Wil Andersen manages to lose all of his ranch-hands when they abscond during the Wild West Goldrush of the 1800s.
In desperation, he hires the only hands available, a bunch of local schoolboys, to aid him in a 400 mile cattledrive.
During the trip, Andersen's hard-headed and hard-hearted persona is tested and questioned, and the young wannabe 'cow boys' themselves are thrown into an unknown world of hardship and heart breaking life-lessons.

For a Western that was made toward the end of the 'Western Era', The Cowboys really shines through as a classic.
The overall screenplay, writing, dialogue writing, shooting style and choreography of the finished product are absolutely spell binding.
The relationships between the boys, Nightlinger (Andersen's new right-hand man) and Andersen is felt brilliantly by the audience.

The overall feel of The Cowboys, is a similar coming of age story that has been used many a time before and since, but with the Western setting it gives the storyline a nice flavour.
Plus the overall choreography I mentioned, not just the odd hit of action and peril but particularly with the young boys driving a huge cattle herd across the Big Country, makes the film really stand out.

There's also some nicely placed humour throughout, most of it situational, that makes the viewer keep watching too.

The acting from John Wayne as Andersen, is about his usual moody self. This time round Wayne really seems likable as he comes out of his shell as the film progresses.
It's the gang of youngsters that really make the impression, most are unknowns, even today they're unknowns (apart from Robert Carradine and Stephen R Hudis, both in their feature debuts)... but it's the camaraderie and the overall childishness that turns into manhood that gives the movie some weight. Well played by all too.
Roscoe Lee Brown is good as Nighlinger and Bruce Dern makes a nice appearance as the villain, giving the main group something to put their differences aside for.

All in all, maybe not one of the best Westerns ever made, but certainly fun, full of great acting and also perilous and heartbreaking at times too.
My rating 87%