A Life Lesson in ‘The Train Robbers’

John Wayne gives Bobby Vinton some advice in a scene from The Train Robbers.

The Movie: One of John Wayne’s last films, The Train Robbers is an above-average Western with an able cast that includes Rod Taylor, Ben Johnson, Ann-Margret, Christopher George, Ricardo Montalban, and Bobby Vinton. Coming between True Grit and The Shootist, it’s easy to see why this film might fall through the critical cracks, but it’s a sturdy, well-crafted movie with an intriguing storyline and some good acting.

The Plot: Ann-Margret is the widow of a train robber who absconded with a cache of gold. Knowing the booty’s location, she gathers a group of adventurers to find the treasure—not so they can split it, but so the widow can return it to the train company and clear the family name. In exchange, the adventurers, led by John Wayne as Lane, can split the generous reward among themselves. But will the sins of greed and lust get in the way of their plans?

The Scene: Immediately after discovering the gold among the half-buried ruins of the train that had carried the treasure, the adventurers find themselves under attack from desperados who want the gold for themselves. Bobby Vinton, a singer turned actor, plays Ben, one of the young adventurers. In a moment of avuncular advice, while waiting for the inevitable attack from the bad guys, Lane/Wayne gives young Ben some perspectives on how to be a man, even when the odds are against you.

The Quote:

I hate to have to tell you this, Ben, but whether you like it or not you’re a man, and you’re stuck with it. You’re gonna find yourself standin’ your ground and fightin’ when you oughta run, speakin’ out when you oughta keep your mouth shut, doin’ things that seem wrong to a lot of people, but you’ll do ’em all the same… You’re gonna spend the rest of your life gettin’ up one more time when you’re knocked down, so you better start gettin’ used to it.