Cattle Drive Westerns

Nicholas Chennault ~ September 29, 2014

Cattle Drive Westerns


‘Steers to Market’ by Maynard Dixon, 1936.

Just as one of the iconic figures of the American west is the cowboy, one of the iconic western stories is the cattle drive, depicting the romance and skills involved in moving cattle from one place to another, usually to market in some form.  The drive is often accompanied by hardships and adventures of various sorts: nasty weather, floods, Indians, outlaws, stampedes, lack of water, etc.  The prototypical cattle drive story is north from Texas to Dodge City (Dodge City, Red River), Abilene or even as far as Montana (The Tall Men, Lonesome Dove).  Sometimes the drive involves an unusual location, such as Canada (The Cariboo Trail), Alaska (The Far Country), Australia (Australia) or even the East (Alvarez Kelly).  Sometimes the story of the drive is accompanied by another typical story, such as the-tenderfoot-comes-west (Cowboy, City Slickers) or a coming of age tale in which a young man or men grow up while learning the ways of the trail and the west (Cattle Drive, The Culpepper Cattle Co., The Cowboys, Lonesome Dove).  Sometimes the animals being driven are horses (The Man From Snowy River, Broken Trail).  Among the movies featuring cattle drives are some of the very greatest westerns (Red River, The Cowboys, Lonesome Dove, Open Range, Broken Trail).


Nevada (1936)
The Texans–Scott (1938)
Dodge City–Flynn (1939)
Arizona—Arthur, Holden (1940)
Texas (1941)
The Old Chisholm Trail (1942)
Red River—Wayne, Clift, Dru (1948; Dir: Hawks)
The Cariboo Trail—Scott (1950)
The Showdown—Elliott, Brennan (1950)
Cattle Drive—McCrea, Stockwell (1951)

Gunsmoke–Murphy (1953)
The Far Country—Stewart, Brennan (Dir: Mann)
The Tall Men—Gable, Ryan (1955; Dir: Walsh)
Canyon River—Montgomery (1956; Dir: Jones)
Cowboy—Ford, Lemmon (1958; Dir: Daves)
Cattle Empire—McCrea (1958; Dir: Warren)
The Sundowners—Mitchum, Kerr (sheep, 1960; Dir: Zinneman)
The Last Sunset—R. Hudson, K. Douglas (1961)
Alvarez Kelly—Holden, Widmark (1966)
The Culpepper Cattle Co. (1972)
The Cowboys—Wayne, Dern (1972)
Lonesome Dove—Duvall, Jones (1989; Dir: Wincer)
City Slickers—Crystal, Palance (1991)
Open Range—Duvall, Costner (2003; Dir: Costner)
Australia—Jackman, Kidman (2008)


Thomas Haden Church and Robert Duvall in Broken Trail.

Horse Drive Westerns

Wild Stallion (1952)
Gunman’s Walk (1958)
The Undefeated (1969)
The Man from Snowy River (1982)
Return to Snowy River (1988)
Wrangler (1989)
In Pursuit of Honor (MfTV, 1995)
Broken Trail (2006)


Gene Hackman, James Coburn et al. in Bite the Bullet.

Endurance Horse Races

Bite the Bullet (1975)
Hidalgo (2004)

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