The Cowboys stars John Wayne as a tough cattleman forced to use some green teenagers to get the beef to market. Handsome, placid and pastoral, the film is a family-type entry, produced and directed by Mark Rydell.
Rustler Bruce Dern fights with Wayne and eventually shoots him dead. This foul deed gives the boys enough courage to plot vengeance under the leadership of Roscoe Lee Browne, an urbane black wagon-train cook who previously had exchanged some pithy comments with Wayne and the kids.
The story [from a novel by William Dale Jennings] is long and episodic, and its gentle treatment makes the length something of a hindrance to maximum enjoyment. Cast includes Colleen Dewhurst in an effective cameo as a travelling bordello madam.