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Film / The Culpepper Cattle Co.

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Kid, cowboying is something you do when you can't do nothing else.
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The Culpepper Cattle Co. (known as Dust, Sweat and Gunpowder in Australia) is a revisionist western made in 1972. It's directed by Dick Richards.

It tells the story of Ben, a boy who believes in the romantic ideal of the cowboy and wishes to become one. He joins a cattle drive led by the jaded Culpepper, hoping it'll be the first step to accomplishing his dream. But Ben eventually comes to realize that real cowboys are more concerned with profits than heroics and that a reward for the latter is exceedingly rare.


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Tropes:

  • Cattle Drive: Culpepper is tasked with bringing cattle to Fort Lewis in Colorado. Ben joins the drive as they're setting out.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Ben joins Culpepper's company in hopes of becoming a man. The things he experiences certainly force him to shed much of his youthful idealism.
  • Downer Ending: Many of Culpepper's company die fighting for the ungrateful pilgrims and Ben is completely disillusioned.
  • The Load: Ben tries to be valuable to Culpepper's gang, but his inexperience makes him mostly unhelpful and he's the unintentional cause of some problems (like when the gang loses the horses) instead.
  • Market-Based Title: Known as Dust, Sweat and Gunpowder in Australia. Many European countries also translated the title from that instead of the original.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Ben's allies' sacrifices amount to nothing when the pilgrims' leader refuses to stay in the land now that it's the site of a massacre.
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  • Ungrateful Bastard: The leader of the pilgrims wants to stay in the land they're at because he thinks God brought them there, even though it legally belongs to Pierce. When Pierce warns everyone to get off his land, the pilgrim leader begs for Culpepper's help. Only Ben, in his idealism, decides to fight for the pilgrims (though some of the others join him later), while the pilgrims do nothing to help except praying. When everyone who helped Ben dies protecting the community, the leader wants to haul ass to somewhere else, saying they can't stay in a blood-soaked land. Ben is rightfully pissed, tells him off and forces him to bury the dead (which the leader didn't even want to do).
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