Thursday, January 06, 2011

Movie review – “The Cowboys” (1972) *** (warning: spoilers)

John Wayne hires a group of kids to help him take cattle cross country – and the thing is, they actually are kids. Like eight and stuff – the eldest is about thirteen. And actors who look that age play them. So when Wayne is shot in the back by Bruce Dern, head of a gang of cattle rustlers, and the kids go looking for revenge, you don’t think they can do it – but they do. They kill all the rusters – you’ve got eight year olds shooting them to death. It’s full on, and gives this film real kick, even if it doesn’t explore what happens to the kids afterwards. Wayne is strong, as is Roscoe Lee Browne as a black cook who joins the journey. Dern's memorable depiction of a psychotic killer saw him type-cast, apparently - although I can't imagine even without this film that Dern would have been up for too many romantic comedies.

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