The Cowboys is a good but not great Duke western that benefits from good performances by the cast. Because all the men in town are off in search of gold, rancher Wil Andersen is forced to hire 11 schoolboys to help him drive a herd of cattle to Montana. Obvious problems arise on the trail as Andersen and his cook, Jebediah Nightlinger, try to help the boys learn how to be cowboys. Andersen, Nightlinger, and the 11 cowboys also must deal with a band of rustlers threatening to steal their cattle herd. The plot for this movie is nothing special, but it is still a very enjoyable movie. John Wayne and Roscoe Lee Browne are very good as are the kids. For a Duke western, the ending is a little shocking, but the revenge motive works here as the "cowboys" go after the rustlers. The Cowboys is a beautifully shot movie in the barren desert and the green mountains that deserves a watch to see the Duke in one of his last movies.
As usual, John Wayne is excellent as rancher Wil Andersen, who must watch out for the eleven schoolboys turned cowboys. He takes on a father role to them which is very believable by the end of the movie. Roscoe Lee Browne is also very good as Andersen's cook, Jebediah Nightlinger, who must deal with more than a little racism on the trail. Bruce Dern with his rattlesnake theme is incredibly creepy as rustler, Long Hair, although sometimes his character has been called Asa Watts. The 11 cowboys are all pretty good in their roles including Robert Carradine, A. Martinez, and Alfred Barker Jr. The DVD offers widescreen presentation, production notes, a featurette on the making of, and trailers from 13 different John Wayne movies. The Cowboys is not an action packed western, but it is still entertaining with good performances from the Duke, Roscoe Lee Browne, and Bruce Dern. For an enjoyable western with a bit of a twist, check out The Cowboys!