With his own workers running after the gold rush, a farmer hires a bunch of young men to help him. As he teaches them his trade, they begin to learn lessons about life as well as bonding with each other and the at-first grumpy farmer.
Famously shocking in its day for the sneaky way long-haired troublemaker Dern shoots the Duke in the back, this is the one in which a craggy rancher loses his regular drovers to a gold rush and has to recruit a group of bratty kids for a cattle drive, turning them into men on the trail. The inimitable Slim Pickens brightens up a mainly callow supporting cast of youngsters. One of Wayne's "message" movies for the hippy era, preaching that it's better to have short hair and shoot people in the face than to be a drop-out.
After several successful films where he plays the tough-as-nails cowboy, Wayne wasn't about to break the pattern now. Playing the only character he knows, he gives several inspiring speeches to an unlikely group of kids who turn from boys to men.