“Rooster” Cogburn: a Great Story of Manhood

By | March 30, 2022

[March 30, 2022]  John Wayne is an iconic idol of manhood.  Tough, courageous, self-reliant, and independent; are the hallmarks of true manliness.  In the 1975 American western movie “Rooster Cogburn,” John Wayne stars as an aging, one-eyed lawman doing his best to redeem his reputation and earn back his marshal’s badge.

Critics do not consider the movie to be one of his best performances.  I, for example, preferred John Wayne in The Longest Day (1962) and Horse Soldiers (1959) … just my bias to watch war movies to westerns.  Critics typically gave the film low marks, and I can understand why after watching it again a few days ago.

“A man’s got to have a code, a creed to live by, no matter his job.” – John Wayne

Rooster Cogburn is about a U.S. marshal known for his grit and determination.  He fought in the Confederacy during the U.S. Civil War.  Cogburn now works for the federal government to track down outlaws in Indian Territory.  Because of his ruthless reputation is assigned to catch an outlaw gang but screws up by getting drunk and nearly killed.

While we are not drawn very far into the movie’s plot, what comes at us is that the main character Cogburn has some redeeming features despite his failings (drunkenness and poor attitude).  He can tell good from evil and is willing to risk it all to track down some merciless outlaws that would just as soon kill someone as to look at them.

This story has a common theme; the old hero has seen his glory days pass and yearns to capture them again.  An adventure follows, putting all his terrible faults on display.  When those faults are overcome, only at the end do we see the old hero make his comeback, if only for a short while.

Stories of old heroes have a long history in American and European literature.  Without those stories, we would not be as rich as we are today.  The incredible story of manhood cannot be told unless we are willing to see the Rooster Cogburns among us.  Indeed, we can learn powerful lessons through stories.1


  1. https://www.theleadermaker.com/dirty-harry-an-old-story-of-manhood/


Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

34 thoughts on ““Rooster” Cogburn: a Great Story of Manhood

  1. Beautiful Bird

    I don’t know about the rest of you guys but this movie is my favorite because it reminds me of my dad. 👍

  2. Rides Alone

    Like all of John Wayne’s movies, I liked this one too. What I liked about him is that he represents the real man. Flawed but willing to stand up to evil. He also has the main traits of a good man, the ability to see evil and has the guts to do something about it.

    1. Scotty Bush

      Good point Rides Alone. Great moniker, BTW. I wish I would have my old Harley back but I’m too old for it now. Besides, my good wife doesn’t want me to ride any more. 😊

  3. Armywife

    Another great posting from General Satterfield. You never disappoint. Thank you sir.
    When I think of John Wayne I automatically think of my father. I remember watching ‘the Duke’s movies with him. After each movie my dad would talk about the great man in the movie and the man himself. He taught me to look for these same traits in a man and not to settle in my later years for anything less.
    God bless my dad in heaven and I sure hope he runs into the Duke now and again.

    1. Mr. T.J. Asper

      Good story, thank you Armywife. I too had a stable, two-parent upbringing with none of the craziness we hear about today (changing genders, LGBTQ+ ideology). The best family is a mother and a father. Some folks will just never believe it. And, John Wayne was a real man and a family man.

  4. Mikka Solarno

    Powerful, “The incredible story of manhood cannot be told unless we are willing to see the Rooster Cogburns among us.”

    1. Lynn Pitts

      Yes! I for one am impressed with both the quality of articles on leadership and on those who comment in this leadership forum. I learn a lot with only a few minutes of reading. This is the best leadership website that I’ve come across and not stuck up with a bunch of useless advertisements.

      1. Veronica Stillman

        Got that right, Lynn and thanks for your movie reviews too.

  5. McStompie

    Thanks for another on-target article, Gen. Satterfield. 😊 John Wayne is an iconic idol of manhood. Got that right.

    1. Goalie for Cal State

      “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” – Isaiah 5:20
      —- best quote

      1. Marsha Sperling

        Best quote. Many overlook the importance of of ancient messages of truth contained there. Read and learn. 🙏

    2. Fred Weber

      Community leaders are the first level of defense against the radicalization of their citizens and political leaders all have the intrinsic responsibility to educate us about the actions of these groups, how they fit into our value structure (culture), and what is being done by them that is either good or evil. Some have argued that leadership at this level is in short supply.

      1. Janna Faulkner

        Yep, good quote from Gen. Satterfield about the first line of defense against the craziness we see coming from Washington DC. Stand against the evil and speak up.

  6. MrJohn22

    Gen. Satterfield, Rooster Cogburn may not be John Wayne’s best movie, or rated in the top 20 of those he starred in, but the story is one of those meta-stories you often write about. The flawed hero who eventually stands up and does the right thing. More stories like this are good with me. Another reason i read your blog.

  7. Bernie

    Spot on! Grit and determination. Those are the keys to being a real man. Not like the sissy men we have as politicians today who pander to the weirdos.

    1. Nick Lighthouse

      “Tough, courageous, self-reliant, and independent; are the hallmarks of true manliness. ” – Gen. Satterfield.

  8. Pumpkin Spice

    Excellent!!! John Wayne was a great actor and I like the fact that he always played a real man. Too many wussies in America now. Too many snowflakes that love to b### f### each other.

    1. Eye Cat

      Owwww, tell us what you think Pumpkin Spice. Are you implying that the LGTBI+ community is into something weird? I hope so. he he he he heeeee —– Go for it, PS. Loving your comment.

      1. Bryan Z. Lee

        Mental Disorders are now mainstream and our liberal friends are encouraging it. Why? They are stupid of the impact. What will eventually happen when kids, they are encouraging to be something they are not, grow up and realize they’ve been fooled and there is no return, there is going to be a terrible backlash. I thinnk that backlash is already growing.

  9. Kenny Foster

    Gen. Satterfield, thanks for this article. I loved it because, I think, in part because I’m a fan of John Wayne in his movies. He always plays a great man – always flawed and having to overcome those flaws to accomplish something great. Like when he played in The Alamo. Great movie. Playing a patriotic American. A real hero.

  10. Otto Z. Zuckermann

    If you want to witness the opposite of manhood, the story of a lying, weasel of a man, take a look at US Pres Joe Biden and his ilk following. He stumbles up the stairs mentally and literally. Wow, can you get any worse as a president.

    1. Army Captain

      So the 82nd Airborne is training Ukrainian troops in Poland? So what is up with denying or okaying that? The Biden admin continues to contradict itself and Joe himself is telling us classified info that should not be released.

      1. Yusaf from Texas

        The three monkeys all sitting in row: don’t see evil, don’t hear evil, don’t speak evil. Biden, Harris, and Blinken. The three stupid monkeys.

        1. old warrior

          Got that right Someone needs to do some serious butt kicking to get their attention.

    2. JT Patterson

      “Weasel” is the operative word. Biden is no man, I haven’t figured it out yet but maybe he identifies with Marx. Don’t know! Who knows? 👍


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