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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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Won 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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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. A fearless, one-eyed U.S. marshal who never knew a dry day in his life... a Texas ranger thirsty for bounty money... and a girl still wet behind the ears who didn't care what they were or who they were as long as they had true grit. See more »


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

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

The character of Mattie was supposed to be 14. Kim Darby was 21 when the film was made in late 1968 and had already given birth to her first child. See more »

Goofs

When Chaney is waiting for the ranger and Mattie to return from watching Rooster and Ned's gang shoot it out he decides to pick up a rock and use it on the ranger. One wonders why he didn't just recover the rifle that was tossed aside before. See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

Referenced in Drive-in Movie Memories (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Amazing Grace
(uncredited)
Lyrics by John Newton and music by William Walker
Sung at the hanging
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User Reviews

 
Beware The One-Eyed Duke
8 May 2006 | by (Greenwich, CT United States) – See all my reviews

"Come see a fat old man sometime!"

John Wayne's parting comment in this film is directed as much at us the viewers as it is at the young woman his Rooster Cogburn character is addressing. In a way, Wayne throughout the film plays off the image he cemented in dozens of great and near-great westerns, with a nod that by 1969, he along with the western genre had fallen behind the times, that his shoot-first approach to law and order had worn thin with the critical establishment just as it does in Judge Parker's courtroom.

In that way, playing a character of such dogged homicidal cussedness as the hard-drinking, one-eyed ex-Quantrill Raider Rooster Cogburn and giving him a teenaged girl seeking justice to play off so as to showcase his essential decency seems a clever means to win Wayne an Oscar, which he finally did here, a sentimental triumph over some more heralded performances. With such an attitude, you might think "True Grit" would come off a bit of a one-trick pony 37 years on. But it doesn't. In many ways, both the film and Wayne's performance come off better than ever.

Helping matters a lot is the support Wayne receives from two women. As the heroine, Matty Ross, Kim Darby provides Wayne with a fantastic foil, doughty to the point of rudeness, forever finding fault in others but earning your good will through her simple faith in justice and loyalty to the memory of her slain father, for whom she wants Rooster's help avenging. As she is told by a horse dealer she banters with: "I admire your sand."

The other is Marguerite Roberts, whose adaptation of Charles Portis' novel bristles with good humor and an ear for the period. "If ever I meet one of you Texas waddies who ain't drunk water from a hoofprint, I think I'll... I'll shake their hand or buy 'em a Daniel Webster cee-gar," Rooster tells his braggart riding companion, a young Texas Ranger played by country singer and ex-Beach Boy Glen Campbell.

Campbell may be a novice and a third wheel in the interplay between Wayne and Darby, but he acquits himself well and delivers a worthy performance in a cast stacked with talented actors like Robert Duvall, Jeremy Slate, and Strother Martin, not to mention Dennis Hopper, hiding the long hair he made famous in "Easy Rider" that same year. Some of these actors portray bad guys, but Roberts' script and director Henry Hathaway's languid pacing allow them to present some humanizing qualities that go a long way toward making "True Grit" more than your typical shoot-em-up oater.

Even Jeff Corey, who plays a no-account named Chaney who shot Matty's father, has a funny scene when he tells Matty how to cock her pistol, then whines after she shoots him with it: "Everything happens to me!"

About the only fault I can find with the film is Elmer Bernstein's bombastic score, which employs overly ornate orchestration like kettledrums when Matty has her showdown with Chaney and is tuneless apart from the title song, which is Campbell's best moment here. Hathaway's direction is somewhat pedestrian but serves the script, and showcases some incredible autumnal vistas of tall birch and pine where Rooster and Matty search for Chaney, photographed by Lucien Ballard in a style akin to (but more dreamy than) his work on the same year's "The Wild Bunch."

1969 was the last great year for westerns, with this, "The Wild Bunch," "Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid," "Support Your Local Sheriff" and "Once Upon A Time In the West," and its interesting how Ballard, Corey, and Strother Martin turned up in more than one of them. But good westerns never really go out of style, they just sit on the shelf awhile like an old Stetson waiting to be rediscovered. Nobody wore a Stetson better, or deserved an Oscar more, than John Wayne. "True Grit" does the double duty of showing why he was a star and further burnishing his luster.


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