In 1948, John ‘Duke’ Wayne teamed up with brilliant director Howard Hawks for the classic Western, “Red River”. In the film, Duke plays Tom Dunson, an overbearing Farmer who is determined to bring his massive herd of cattle from his Texan Ranch to Missouri. But along the way, his adopted son, Matthew Garth (Montgomery Clift) rebelled against his father’s autocratic nature that was putting herdsmen’s lives in jeopardy.
Matthew and the rest disarmed Dunson, took control of the livestock, and brought them to Kansas, leaving Dunson stranded and all alone in the wilderness. By the time Dunson caught up with Mathew, the second man had brought the cows to safety, sold them for a good price, and made his father a rich man. But Dunson remains in his fight with Mathew; Finally, the father realizes his son’s worth and accepts his son as an equal partner on the farm.
Cut to 24 years later, and Mark Rydell’s The West, “The Cowboys”: Duke is once again an aging rancher, William ‘Wil’ Andersen, who is desperate to move his cattle from the Double Ranch -O in Montana to Belle Fourche- 400 miles away. Unlike Dunson, Wil, although a strict, proud and tough rancher, was not a dictator. But this time his farmers abandoned him even before the cattle drive began.
There was a gold rush going on in the territory, and all the men in the area were affected by the gold rush; they give up farm work to go in search of gold. Wil rides into town to seek help from his friend Anse Peterson (Slim Pickens), who advises him to use schoolgirls (the only men left in this desolate town) to moved the herd, but after visiting the school and seeing the immature behavior. of the boys, Wil decided not to use them.
Andersen reluctantly tested the boys’ ability to stay on a tumbling horse. As the boys take turns to succeed, Cimarron (A Martinez), a man slightly younger than the others, rides on. After successfully subduing and riding a test horse, Cimarron gets into a fight with Slim (Robert Carradine), the oldest of the boys, after Cimarron insinuates Slim’s mother is a prostitute. Andersen, although impressed by Cimarron’s abilities, is suspicious of his angry nature and sends him away.
Standing by the graves of his two sons (who ԁıеԁ years ago after being ‘bad’), Wil thought long and hard about taking the boys with him; Realizing he had no other choice, he went to the school to tell the boys he was hiring them for the summer and gave each of them $50 when they reached Belle Fourche. Wil took the boys under his wing, and began training them for the long road ahead. On day one, Wil trains the boys in riding, branding, and herding skills, and eventually adopts all of them, even the youngest, Hardy Fimps.