I was 15 when I saw The Cowboys (1972) at the theatre and I loved it. In fact, I even bought a cowboy hat! As a teen girl, I wasn't really the target audience (or maybe I was...all those cute boys!) Nevertheless, I fell in love with Robert Carradine and became a fan (The Big Red One, Revenge of the Nerds).
Since then I've seen The Cowboys many times. The cinematography is stunning and John Williams score is amazing. Shout out to Roscoe Lee Browne as the chuck wagon cook.
The story in a nutshell: A Montana cattle rancher (John Wayne) needs to take his herd on a 400 mile cattle drive and hires young boys as cowhands because all the men in the area have gold fever. An ex-con (Bruce Dern) and his cohorts steal the herd. SPOILER ALERT! Dern kills John Wayne and leaves the boys stranded. The boys decided to take matters into their own hands and get the herd back.