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True Grit (1969)

A drunken, hard-nosed U.S. Marshal and a Texas Ranger help a stubborn teenager track down her father's murderer in Indian territory.

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Cast

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'Barlow'
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Mrs. Floyd
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Storyline

The murder of her father sends a teenage tomboy, Mattie Ross, (Kim Darby), on a mission of "justice", which involves avenging her father's death. She recruits a tough old marshal, "Rooster" Cogburn (John Wayne), because he has "grit", and a reputation of getting the job done. The two are joined by a Texas Ranger, La Boeuf, (Glen Campbell), who is looking for the same man (Jeff Corey) for a separate murder in Texas. Their odyssey takes them from Fort Smith, Arkansas, deep into the Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma) to find their man. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net> [edited]

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The strangest trio ever to track a killer. See more »


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

21 June 1969 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Temple de acero  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Gross:

$14,250,000 (USA)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Wayne was disappointed by the casting of Kim Darby as Mattie Ross, and the two hardly spoke at all off camera. See more »

Goofs

When LaBoeuf and Rooster are discussing the venture at Chen Lee's, Mattie repeatedly changes position between shots. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Frank Ross: Little Frank... You take care of your mama.
Little Frank: I will.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Getting Into Heaven (1970) See more »

Soundtracks

Amazing Grace
(uncredited)
Lyrics by John Newton and music by William Walker
Sung at the hanging
See more »

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User Reviews

 
More than Just a Fat Old Man
3 January 2006 | by (Tunbridge Wells, England) – See all my reviews

"True Grit" deals with one of the classic Western themes, indeed one of the classic themes in all literature- revenge. A teenage girl, Mattie Ross, is looking for someone who will help her track down Tom Chaney, the man who murdered her father. The man Mattie chooses is Rooster Cogburn, a US Marshal. Cogburn is elderly, fat, one-eyed and a heavy drinker, but Mattie chooses him because she has heard that he has "true grit". The two of them set out into the Indian Territory in search of Chaney, accompanied by La Boeuf (shouldn't that be Le Boeuf?), a Texas ranger who wants to arrest him in connection with another murder.

This is perhaps best remembered today as the film for which John Wayne won his only Oscar. Halliwell's Film Guide rather ungraciously refers to it as a "sentimental Oscar, for daring to look old and fat", but there is more to Wayne's performance than that. The Academy, in fact, had tended to overlook Wayne, just as they overlooked the Western genre which provided him with most of his roles; well over a hundred films had only brought him two previous nominations. Cogburn, however, was one of his best roles. On the surface a hard-bitten, irascible old man, he has hidden depths to his character- not only the courage and determination implied by the phrase "true grit", but also a sense of humour and a capacity for tenderness. Cogburn is a lonely man, divorced from his wife and alienated from his only son, and his only friends are a Chinese storekeeper (a rare acknowledgement from Hollywood that not every inhabitant of the West was either white or an Indian) and his cat. A close relationship, however, grows up between him and the orphaned Mattie, for whom he becomes a substitute father. In turn, she becomes the daughter he never had- or perhaps even a substitute son.

Mattie is a complex character. There is much about her that is androgynous- her tomboy looks, her short hair, even her name, which can be short for Matthew as well as Matilda or Martha. She is brave and determined (there is a suggestion that the phrase "true grit" applies to her as well), but can also be a pain in the neck, especially to Cogburn. She is at times wise in the ways of the world and at others strangely innocent. She is part avenging angel, part bookish intellectual (shown by her rather formal language) and part vulnerable child. It is a role that called for an outstanding performance and got one from Kim Darby who was able to bring out all the various facets of Mattie's character. (This is the only film of hers that I have seen, but it seems strange on the strength of this that her subsequent cinema career has been so patchy). Unfortunately, Glenn Campbell, a singer with little previous acting experience, made a weak La Boeuf. It is probably as well that John Wayne did not get his way when he wanted Karen Carpenter, a singer with absolutely no previous acting experience, to play the role of Mattie instead of Darby. Great actors do not always make great casting directors.

"True Grit" does not perhaps have the depth of meaning of some of the truly great Westerns, such as "High Noon", "Unforgiven" or Wayne's last film, "The Shootist", but it is a very good one. It is a fast-moving and exciting adventure, notable for some beautiful photography of mountainous landscapes (although it is ostensibly set in relatively flat Oklahoma, it was actually filmed in Colorado and California), for one of the great iconic moments of the Western (the scene where Cogburn gallops alone into battle, guns blazing, against four opponents) and for two excellent performances in the two main roles. 7/10


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