26 January 2017 | ma-cortes
Above average , enjoyable western with a great cast and awesome John Wayne as a tough cattle rancher
Wayne stars an upright cattle rancher , Wil Andersen ; when his cattle drivers abandon him for the gold fields , he is forced to hire 11 school boys (Sean Kelly , Clay O'Brien , A. Martínez , Robert Carradine film debut , among others) whose ages ranging from 9 to 17 to help him drive his cattle 400 miles to market . As the pre-teenaged boys in New Mexico Territory fight off grownup cattle rustlers under the tutelage of rancher Wil (John Wayne who strides the flick like a dinosaur) and his helper Jebediah Nightlinger (Roscoe Lee Browne) . As they are recruited to work for the cattle rancher , all they wanted was their chance to be men and he gave it to them . But they are pursued and finally attacked by a group of rustlers led by Long Hair (Bruce Dern). With Wil Andersen and ranch-hand Mr. Nightlinger as father figures , as they wet-nursing an entire crew of sub-teenagers on a cattle drive , as the boys learn to become men through hard work , discipline and the usual Western battles with robbers .
Nice and agreeable western with a great cast and a sensational John Wayne against his nemesis magnificently played by Bruce Dern in one of his meatiest roles as the villain . Top-notch Western packs clever plot , thrills , family feeling , slightly stylized action , shoot'em up , and turns out to be pretty entertaining ; in spite of the over-sentimentality inherent in this project produced/directed by Mark Rydell . Besides , it contains good feeling as friendship , faithfulness , companionship , and enjoyable father-adopted sons relationship . And the results make extremely amusing and thundering entertainment . Furthermore , an anti-racism subtext on Roscoe Lee Browne role was written into the script in response to ongoing criticism of John Wayne , it makes this one of Wayne's better Westerns . Wayne's image still remained impervious during the seventies surviving through an overlong career . Wayne unmistakeably a legendary figure of the West and by that time he would go playing good Westerns , as he triumphantly survived his own era with titles as ¨True grit¨ in which he won an Academy Award ,¨Big Jake¨, ¨Train robbers¨ , ¨Rooster Cogburn¨ , his last film ¨The Shootist¨, and ,of course , this ¨The cowboys ¨ . In some ways is a companion movie to posterior ¨Cahill , United States Marshal¨ also involved John with kiddies . The screenplay is plain and simple , with a conventional plot , but ultimately gets overcome . Gorgeous outdoors with decent production design , shot on location in Castle Rock , Durango Colorado , Chama , Galisteo , New Mexico , Sonoita , Elgin , Arizona , and Empire Ranch , Arizona . Colorful and spectacular cinematography in Panavision by Robert L. Surtees . Rousing and emotive musical score by John Williams in his ordinary style . And you'll love both the lightning unexpected finale and the performance of Roscoe Lee Browne as Wayne's friend and food supplier . It inspired the TV series with similar cast as Robert Carradine , A Martínez , Sean Kelly , Clay O'Brien and Moses Gunn as Jebediah Nightlinger .
This well-paced film was compellingly directed by Mark Rydell . Pic contains Rydell's usual themes as familiar feeling , a little bit of charming humor , friendship and and sense of comradeship among people . Mark does the human touch and full of insight that accompanied him during most of his films and the story develops pleasantly in large frames with an interesting plot and fully adjusted to the requirements of the action . Mark Rydell directed a lot of films as ¨Even Money , ¨Crime of the century¨ , ¨Intersection¨, ¨For the boys¨ , ¨Harry and Walter go to N.Y.¨, ¨Cinderella Liberty¨ and ¨The ¨Reivers¨, though his winning years were the 70s and 80s with successes as ¨The rose¨(79) , ¨On Golden pond¨ (81) , ¨The river¨(84) and this ¨The cowboys¨ .