I’m a John Wayne fan, always will be. I never really liked his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn in True Grit. To me Wayne was always a more dignified cowboy. Case in point, in what I thought was his best movie The Shootist, the script called for Wayne to shoot a character in the back. He refused and demanded the script be rewritten to meet his ethical standards. That said, True Grit (69) was a great movie but to me what made that movie was Kim Darby who made up for the lack of acting talent of Glen Campbell. (How the hell did he get in that picture?)
Last night I went to see True Grit (2010). I was apprehensive because I was not sure anyone had any business remaking one of Wayne’s movies. I’d also heard that Hailee Steinfeld who plays Mattie Ross in the new version was excellent and made the movie. I have to disagree, she was good but she was not what made the movie. And, I would also add that Matt Damon was only slightly better as Ranger LaBoeuf than was Campbell.
What made this movie was Jeff Bridges. The best way I can describe his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn was REAL. You could smell his breath and taste his stench. You could feel his presence.
Some have said great western movies don’t come around enough anymore. I’m not sure times have changed; great westerns have always been few and far between. True Grit (2010) is the best western I have seen since The Outlaw Josey Wales and the best movie I’ve seen since Flyboys which was loosely based on Arizonian and Medal of Honor winner Frank Luke whom I named my oldest son after. Forget the original True Grit for one night and go enjoy a western that is probably as close as you will ever get to what it was really like – William Quantrill references included.
I guarantee you will laugh, enjoy the triumph of good over evil and don’t be surprised if when you get up to leave your eyes are a little damp.