'The Cowboys' is a brave film on 2 counts. I'll get to that later!! Mr. Wayne plays a cattle rancher who has been deserted by his handful of men, who have gone to find gold in them there hills. He's now left with a massive herd of cattle he needs to get across 400 miles of unforgiving terrain. The answer to his woes? Hire 11 schoolboys to help him!!
Here's the first brave decision. Base the film around 11 unknown young boys who may or maynot be able to pull off a convincing display. Well the gamble pays off, because these boys put in fine performances. Aided by a grand performance from John Wayne, you get the feeling that a real bond was forged within this group.
Bruce Dern turns up as the psychotic bad guy, who is after the cattle and getting a nice sum of money for him and his cronies. They start to track the cattle drive and cause problems for Wayne and his 'men', Dern turns up the heat with some nasty episodes with the youngsters. As the boys develop along the way, coming to terms with the hardy task they face, an eventual showdown is imminent between Wayne and the cattle thieves.
Its here in the film that another brave decision is made. With three quarters of the film gone, something happens that makes you stop and think 'no, surely not'!! I'll try not to spoil it but this moment could either make or break what so far has been a very enjoyble picture.
I was happy with how the film came to a conclusion from this point. Ok, so it may be a bit 'Hollywood' but I did feel me saying 'get in there'!! All in all then, its a great western tale with fabulous scenery, top notch acting (Bruce Dern is a real evil dude) and a fantastic music score from John Williams (the film starts with an 'Overture' and has an intermission in the middle, like days of yore!!).
Extras include the director's commentary; a film short of how the boys were selected and prepared for their roles and a wonderful reunion feature with the director, Bruce Dern and 2 or 3 of the cast.