John Wayne's 'The Cowboys' rides into Las Vegas

Jason Bracelin, Las Vegas Review-Journal on

Published in Entertainment News

LAS VEGAS — It shocked her, to see her father take a bullet on the big screen.

And in the back, no less.

Marisa Wayne was around 10 years old when she first watched “The Cowboys,” that seminal, coming-of-age Western starring her father, the cowboy-of-all-cowboys, John Wayne.

Wayne’s daughter watched the film with her dad by her side — and yet still it rattled her.

“I mean, it was just so traumatic,” she recalled. “I’m sitting in the same room with my dad next to me, and I know he’s an actor, but I just was a mess.”

Her disbelief was understandable: John Wayne was seldom ever shot and killed in his movies, all 169 of them.


He was a paragon of toughness, Kevlar personified.

But “The Cowboys” was different: Filmed when its leading man was in his mid-60s, it follows Wayne-portrayed rancher Wil Anderson as he recruits a gang of schoolboys to help him on a cattle drive after his usual ranch hands abandon him to try their luck in the gold rush.

While still exuding the gruff gravitas of a man seemingly fashioned from rawhide and barbed wire as much as flesh and bone, Wayne also displays a fatherly side in “The Cowboys.”

Tender, he’s not.


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