HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Chasing the Dragon
Into the Forest
Limehouse Golem, The
Frankenstein '80
Good Time
Bucket of Blood, A
Detroit
Hide and Seek
What Happened to Monday
River Wild, The
Veteran
Slumber Party '57
Juliette, or Key of Dreams
Summertime Killer
Sweet Virginia
Ben & Arthur
Your Name
Red Hot Shot, The
New World
Trick Baby
Weapons of Death
Second Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World, The
Kills on Wheels
Strait-Jacket
This Man is Dangerous
Burning Paradise
Away
Mistress of the Apes
Incredible Paris Incident
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
   
 
Newest Articles
Apocalypse 80s UK: Threads and When the Wind Blows
Movie Flop to Triumphant TV Revival: Twin Peaks and The League of Gentlemen
Driving Force: The Golden Age of American Car Chases
Madness in his Method: Jim Carrey and Andy Kaufman
Music, Love and Flowers: Monterey Pop on Blu-ray
The Melville Mood: His Final Two Films on The Melville Collection Blu-ray
Always Agn├Ęs: 3 from The Varda Collection Blu-ray
Re: Possession of Vehicles - Killer Cars, Trucks and a Vampire Motorcycle
The Whicker Kicker: Whicker's World Vols 5&6 on DVD
The Empress, the Mermaid and the Princess Bride: Three 80s Fantasy Movies
   
 
  Cowboys, The Boys To MenBuy this film here.
Year: 1972
Director: Mark Rydell
Stars: John Wayne, Roscoe Lee Browne, Bruce Dern, Colleen Dewhurst, Alfred Barker Jr, Nicolas Beauvy, Steve Benedict, Robert Carradine, Norman Howell, Stpehen R. Hudis, Sean Kelly, A Martinez, Clay O'Brien, Sam O'Brien, Mike Pyeatt, Slim Pickens, Charles Tyner
Genre: Western
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Cattle rancher Wil Andersen (John Wayne) has hit a snag, and a pretty big one at that: the men who were supposed to be going along with him to herd his cattle to market them hundreds of miles away have decided to go on a gold rush instead. They tell Wil they will be back in a few weeks, but that's not good enough to him as he has to be away as soon as possible if he wants to beat the approach of winter, so has to start searching for new men to hire, only to find that there are none available. His friend Anse (Slim Pickens) has a solution, however... how about recruiting the boys from the local school now that the term is drawing to a close?

There's a famous twist in The Cowboys that I will not reveal, but the results of it as far as the plot goes still echo today, and many find this film's apparent endorsement of violence, expecially with children involved, to be deeply unpalatable. The ironic thing is that director Mark Rydell didn't see it in those terms at all, as although Wayne had his right wing and pro-Vietnam politics well-publicised, Rydell didn't share those views, and the movie was intended more as a rites of passage adventure. Nevertheless, parallels between turning the youngsters into pistol wielding, grim-faced men's men and the war which was still going on in South East Asia were difficult to ignore.

Wayne really wanted this role, and you can see why as it is one of the better ones from his last decade of movie making, casting him as a hard-edged but finally decent and goodhearted father figure - or grandfather figure, considering his age at the time. The plot makes sure to make it clear that Wil has lost his two sons, and although we never discover why they died so young, it's implicated that he didn't do his job as a parent well enough and they turned bad. So now he has recruited these kids, they become his new offspring and he gets a second chance to redeem himself, teaching them the ways of the world and how to survive it.

Those ways of the world include dealing with bad guys, and up steps Bruce Dern in a part tailor-made for him as the untrustworthy "Long Hair" Watts as the credits would have it. He is evidently the kind of hippy type that John Wayne fans would despise, not because he blithely espouses the tenets of peace and love, but he is the opposite: someone who lies and cheats as an example of the kind of young person they suspected the worst of, and here was Dern to confirm those suspicions. If there was LSD around in the Old West, he would have taken it, we're sure of that. Watts is violent too, so when he offers to help Wil as cattle hands in place of the boys and is turned down, we know that as he walks away grinning menacingly, this is not the last we'll see of him.

Yet actually, most of the running time is taken up with Wil whipping the boys into shape, while they teach him a thing or two about compassion and tolerance. He begins the trek as a stern taskmaster, and the boys don't wish to let him down, so put up with his strict tactics (he cures one kid's stammer by shouting at him!), but softens as the journey goes on, showing a more human side to his long-held grit. Along the way and accompanied by the only other adult, chef Nightlinger (Roscoe Lee Browne) who offers sagely advice, the youngsters encounter a roaming band of prostitutes and get their first hangover when they steal a bottle of whisky from the stores, but there's nothing too inappropriate here. Not until the last half hour, that is, and those juveniles learn the meaning of vengeance; it's tough to see the finale as anything other than a sincere endorsement of allowing them to use violence to get their way. Fair enough, Watts wasn't the kind of man who responded to friendly persuasion, but The Cowboys needed a little more self-awareness to truly succeed. At least they didn't cheer at the end, I suppose. Music by John Williams.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 2701 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (1)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Who's the best?
Robin Askwith
Mark Wahlberg
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
Paul Shrimpton
  Rachel Franke
Jason Cook
Darren Jones
Keith Rockmael
   

 

Last Updated: