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"Cowboy"(58) is another very good Delmer Daves Western. It is certainly unusual in having Jack Lemmon as one of the main leads. I cannot recall him making another film in that genre and this film certainly involves some serious acting from him. The film is based on the memoirs of the cowboy Frank Harris. The screenplay was part written by the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo who was only credited posthumously. Glenn Ford a Daves stalwart plays the part of Tom Reese a cattle ramrod.

The story commences in a Chicago hotel where Ford and his men are about to start a long cattle drive down south. Harris a hotel clerk played by Lemmon has been romancing the daughter of a Mexican aristocrat. When she leaves he is keen to see her again. He has the opportunity when Reese loses all his money gambling and needs to borrow from Harris, but on condition he allow him to come on the drive down south towards old Mexico. Reese although not taken with the idea of having a tenderfoot along, reluctantly agrees. The drive is an eye opener for Harris and a baptism of fire. He slowly and painfully becomes a useful trail hand but along the way he becomes hard and cynical. Happily this situation changes by the end.

Overall this is a very enjoyable film. It is a type of coming of age experience. Ford is rock steady and reliable as always and Lemmon throws in a strong performance, although I felt he overdid the cynicism on occasions. Brian Donlevy provides good support as an experienced trail hand. It is a good honest look at the cowboy life which was far from the romantic notion some people may have. Tom Gries's "Will Penny"(67) developed the theme further. Although perhaps not quite as good as Daves other Westerns "3:10 to Yuma"(57) and the excellent "The Last Wagon"(56), it is still a very good film. Recommended viewing.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 April 2013
Cowboy is directed by Delmer Daves and adapted to screenplay by Edmund H. North and Dalton Trumbo from Frank Harris' book My Reminiscences as a Cowboy. It stars Glenn Ford, Jack Lemmon, Víctor Manuel Mendoza, Anna Kashfi, Dick York, King Donovan, Brian Donlevy and Richard Jaeckel. Music is by George Duning and cinematography by Charles Lawton Junior.

Based on Frank Harris' memoir, the story finds Lemmon as Harris, a Chicago hotel clerk who in an attempt to prove he is a man and impress the girl he loves, wrangles his way onto a cattle drive being led by rough and tough cowpoke Tom Reece (Ford). He soon finds that out there on the range, in amongst the dust, beef and perils of the west, that life is far from glamorous.

Once you buy into Lemmon as a Western character, accepting his transference from utter greenhorn into a man of the drive, it really becomes a very good film. It's a sort of debunking of the cowpoke myths whilst playing out as a character study of two men, who are polar opposites, as they build an understanding and ultimately help each other to grow and learn. Along the way, from Chicago to the Rio Grande, there is fights, death, stampedes and tests of loyalties and manhood. The great Delmer Daves directs it without fuss or filler (how nice that the romantic arc is rightly a side issue and doesn't get in the way) and Lawton's photography brings the sprawling landscapes to life.

Lead cast members are excellent, with Ford once again providing rich characterisation by way of layered acting, and Lemmon rises up to the challenge of genre work outside of what he would be known for. In support Donlevy is his usual excellent self, making what could have been a clichéd character (aging gunfighter wants to leave his past behind) interesting with emotional depth, and Mendoza as the Ramrod is good foil for Ford. There's some quibbles, such as Dick York hard to take seriously, Jaeckel and Strother Martin (uncredited) wasted and some of the humour doesn't come off. But this is a very enjoyable film, one that thrives on having some character depth and actually something worthy to say. 7.5/10
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on 17 February 2014
An unusual western that concentrates on the life of cowboys and their rough, tough way of life. Glenn Ford plays the tough, experienced trail boss and Jack Lemmon plays the rookie greenhorn farmer who wants to experience life on the range where, he believes, a lot of money can be made! His story is complicated by his falling for a Mexican girl who is the daughter of a family above his station. Her father naturally discourages the relationship.

The rookie joins forces with the trail boss by virtue of buying his way into a partnership. There follows a series of adventures involving Indians, cattle stampedes, punch-ups and psychological tensions between the cowboys and finally a reconciliation.

The story seems a bit unlikely, although it is apparently based on the real life experiences of Frank Harris in his book, 'My Reminiscences as a Cowboy'. There are some wonderful scenes involving cattle and horses and the cinematography is excellent. The musical score is suitably atmospheric. Generally recommended.
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on 17 March 2013
Two of my favourite actors in a colourful adventure! Lovely colour photography and realistic portrayal of a cowboy's life - a man's world.
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on 6 June 2016
An entertaining film, based on an a part of the book "My Life and Loves" by the louche Frank Harris, who mixed in a wide variety of literary circles, and had something of a reputation for womanising. This film does not reflect this part of his life, but covers his transformation from hotel desk clerk in Chicago to cowboy in pursuit of the daughter of a member of the Mexican gentry. A good and realistic watch, with moments of humour, as one might expect with Glenn Ford and Jack Lemmon.
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on 1 August 2015
This is also a Glenn Ford film and yet another western this time he plays a rancher who looses all his money and half his ranch in a poker game and is forced to borrow money from a barman in the town's saloon, the barman is the late comedy actor this time playing a straight part Jack Lemmon.
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on 21 October 2013
I had seen this film many years ago. I enjoy Glen Fords acting and he doesn't disappoint in this picture.

Purchase went ahead as clockwork.
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on 25 March 2009
I really enjoyed this film. It has drama, humour and romance and I thought the stars of the film- Glenn Ford and Jack Lemmon- were excellent.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 2 October 2011
Columbia Pictures presents "COWBOY" (1958 92 min/Color) -- Starring: Glenn Ford, Jack Lemmon, Anna Kashfi, Brian Donlevy, Dick York & Richard Jaeckel

Directed by Delmer Daves

Chicago hotel clerk Frank Harris (Jack Lemmon) harbors romantic notions of the West and prevails upon hard-living, hard-drinking trail boss Tom Reese (Glenn Ford) to take him along on Reese's next cattle drive. In the months that follow, Harris' idealized notions of the West are cruelly dispelled, though he eventually becomes accustomed to the rough-and-tumble life on the trail and to the curious camaraderie between the drovers

The once-scandalous autobiography of Frank Harris was the source of the fascinating "adult" western Cowboy. Note the memorable performance of Hollywood veteran Brian Donlevy as Doc Bender, an aging gunfighter who can't stand the notion of becoming an anachronism.

One of the more unorthodox westerns of the 1950s, but also one of the best.

Oscar Nominated for Best Film Editing

BIOS:
1. Delmer Daves [Director]
Date of Birth: 24 July 1904 - San Francisco, California
Date of Death: 17 August 1977 - La Jolla, California

2. Glenn Ford (aka: Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford)
Date of Birth: 1 May 1916 - Sainte-Christine, Quebec, Canada
Date of Death: 30 August 2006 - Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, California

3. Jack Lemmon
Date of Birth: 8 February 1925 - Newton, Massachusetts
Date of Death: 27 June 2001 - Los Angeles, California

4. Anna Kashfi [aka: Joan O'Callaghan]
Date of Birth: 30 September 1934 - Cardiff, Wales, UK
Date of Death: Unknown

5. Brian Donlevy
Date of Birth: 9 February 1901 - Portadown, County Armagh, Northern Ireland
Date of Death: 5 April 1972 - Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California

6. Richard Jaeckel
Date of Birth: 10 October 1926 - Long Beach, Long Island, New York
Date of Death: 14 June 1997 - Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California

7. Dick York
Date of Birth: 4 September 1928 - Fort Wayne, Indiana
Date of Death: 20 February 1992 - Grand Rapids, Michigan

Mr. Jim's Ratings:
Quality of Picture & Sound: 5 Stars
Performance: 5 Stars
Story & Screenplay: 5 Stars
Overall: 5 Stars [Original Music, Cinematography & Film Editing]

Total Time: 92 min on DVD ~ Columbia Pictures ~ (May 14, 2002)
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on 23 March 2016
Again my brother in law very pleased with item
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