Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews as I go through the process of finishing post and releasing my 12 Westerns in 12 Months during 2020. I am watching these films not from an audience perspective but as a filmmaker, as a student of the genre.


Week 119: My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys


This month, I’m looking at “Modern Westerns”. If contemporary variations on the genre don’t involve border issues, they usually revolve around rodeo lifestyle. I knew nothing about My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys when I added it to my Tubi list. The opening credits played and I recognized Rosenberg’s name, looking up his work, surprised at how great of a director he was. Soon, the prospect of watching this film was far more enticing.

The set up is good if familiar. The rodeo cowboy coming home to reconnect with family seems like it’s been done many a time but we’re presented with great characters, from Ben Johnson as the father to Mickey Rooney as his looney roommate. Glenn carries the film well as the lead. However, the movie soon gets too repetitive. I love Tess Harper but every conversation she has in the movie is a repeat of the last one. It literally feels like they just copy and pasted her dialog. The scenes of shouting between her and Glenn lost my interest.

The film only regains its strength in the final half when the focus returns to rodeo. I will admit that the bull riding scenes are quite effective, tense and sometimes shocking. I really like the music too.

Overall, this is more of a feel good sports movie than a “modern western”. Based on my criteria, the film hits three out of five of the elements. It has nothing to do with justice (though there is a law enforcement character) and I can’t remember the significant riding of any horses.

1. Explores Western culture and lifestyle in a modern context.
2. Story revolves around justice and injustice in a significant way, especially involving one or more outlaws and a figure of authority/law enforcement.
3. Includes the riding of horses.
4. The setting must be in the West or a similar frontier-like location.
5. Characters appear in some modern variation of the traditional Western wardrobe.

Watched on Tubi.