True Grit (PG) - 1969 - Runtime: 128 minutes
Starring: John Wayne, Glen Campbell, Kim Darby
Director: Henry Hathaway
I kept getting this movie mixed up with another Wayne western, The Searchers. They both share somewhat similar themes and feature Wayne in fairly similar roles. I was actually looking forward to this one - the Coen brothers' are remaking the movie and I've heard this was a good western. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to wait until Christmas to find out if this could be a good western, because this version is not good at all.
Wayne plays Rooster Cogburn (every time I hear that name I think of David Sedaris's' redneck brother, the Rooster, hehe), a rough and tough Federal Marshall who doesn't answer to nobody. When Mattie Ross's father is murdered, she tracks down this ruthless Marshall to help her find the man. They're also joined by a Texas Ranger and throughout the story we learn that Rooster (hehe) is not as cold-hearted as he'd like us to believe. In fact, he's a down-right softie. This is sounding awfully familiar, right?
It's a fairly straightforward and somewhat unrewarding movie. You know how things are going to end up and the search for the killer isn't as action-packed or bloody as it should be. I will say the ending was pretty great, but between the set up and the end, there's very little meat on this one. In fact, the best part of the movie is Mattie. She's a very headstrong young woman who knows what she wants. She's not afraid to get dirty and is essentially one of the boys. I was expecting a very timid little girl when I first heard the plot, so it was a nice surprise to see a different take on the whole damsel in distress. Basically the whole movie revolves around Mattie butting heads with Rooster and the other guy, the Texas Ranger (who is not memorable at all). I liked the discourse between her and Rooster, but some of it got a bit tiring. You can only have so many scenes where Rooster doesn't think Mattie is up to snuff and time and time again she proves him wrong. When will men ever learn?
I have heard that the book this movie is based is much more violent and uses Mattie's point of view to tell the story. The movie, however, is obsessed with Wayne and his performance as Rooster. Which isn't a surprise, but it made the movie less effective as a narrative. Instead of Mattie being an empowering figure, she's reduced in some scenes to a whiny little brat. I would hold out on the Coen brothers' version this Christmas because they're staying more faithful to the book and it's the Coen brothers, 'nuff said.
Rating: Not Worth Paying For!