True Grit (1969)



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In fine Hollywood tradition, John Wayne had to play a "one-eyed fat man" before the Motion Picture Academy considered him worthy of an Oscar. In True Grit, Wayne plays grumpy, pot-bellied U.S. marshal "Rooster" Cogburn, hired by 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Kim Darby) to find Tom Chaney (Jeff Corey), who killed her father. The headstrong Mattie could have had her pick of lawmen, but selects the aging Cogburn because she believes he has "true grit" (she talks this way all through the picture, so be prepared). Also heading into Indian territory in search of Chaney is Texas Ranger La Boeuf (Glen Campbell), who wants to collect the reward placed on the fugitive's head for his earlier crimes. Complicating matters are Chaney's scurrilous cronies Ned Pepper (Robert Duvall), Quincy (Jeremy Slate), and Moon (Dennis Hopper), who have no qualms about killing a troublesome teenaged girl like Mattie. While the plot of True Grit, adapted (and streamlined) by Marguerite Roberts from the novel by Charles Portis, maintains audience interest throughout, the glue that truly holds this Western together is John Wayne, delivering one of his finest performances (though some believe he was better in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon). Wayne's casual charisma is infinitely more effective than the mannered method acting of Kim Darby and the floundering non-acting of poor Glen Campbell. And who could not love the climatic face-off between Duvall and company and John Wayne, whose "Fill your hand, you son of a bitch!" is not only a classic bit of dialogue, but the apotheosis of the Wayne mystique. In 1975, Wayne repeated his True Grit characterization opposite Katharine Hepburn in Rooster Cogburn, but the film failed to match its predecessor and the overall effect was blunted. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Classics , Western
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Written By:
In Theaters:
Paramount Home Video

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John Wayne
as Rooster Cogburn
Kim Darby
as Mattie Ross
Glen Campbell
as La Boeuf
Robert Duvall
as Ned Pepper
Jeremy Slate
as Emmett Quincy
Strother Martin
as Col. G. Stonehill
Jeff Corey
as Tom Chaney
Ron Soble
as Capt. Boots Finch
John Fiedler
as Lawyer J. Noble Daggett
James Westerfield
as Judge Parker
John Doucette
as Sheriff
Donald Woods
as Barlow
Edith Atwater
as Mrs. Floyd
Carlos Rivas
as Dirty Bob
Isabel Boniface
as Mrs. Bagby
H.W. Gim
as Chen Lee
John Pickard
as Frank Ross
Ken Renard
as Yarnell Poindexter
Jay Ripley
as Harold Parmalee
Kenneth Becker
as Farrell Parmalee
Myron Healey
as A Deputy
Hank Worden
as R. Ryan
Ken Becker
as Farrell Parmalee
Guy Wilkerson
as The Hangman
Boyd 'Red' Morgan
as Red the Ferryman
Robin Morse
as Bit Part
Jay Silverheels
as Condemned man at hanging
Connie Sawyer
as Talkative woman at hanging
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Critic Reviews for True Grit

All Critics (50) | Top Critics (15)

By growing old disgracefully as the fat, swaggering Rooster Cogburn, Wayne proves he can act -- and solves his own senior-citizen problem in one master stroke.

Full Review… | December 1, 2010
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Somehow it comes off like a TV celebrity roast.

Full Review… | December 1, 2010
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

It's mostly Wayne all the way. He towers over everything in the film.

Full Review… | March 18, 2009
Top Critic

Lazily directed by Hathaway, it's pleasant enough, if rather too self-consciously coy.

June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

One of the glories of True Grit is that it recognizes Wayne's special presence.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

A marvelously rambling frontier fable packed with extraordinary incidents, amazing encounters, noble characters, and virtuous rewards.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for True Grit

John Wayne won his one and only Oscar for Best Actor in this exciting and riveting action-packed Western from Director Henry Hathaway that became one of the biggest boxoffice hits of 1969 in a year that was dominated with the return of the Hollywood Westerns that featured "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid",and "The Wild Bunch". "True Grit" casts the legendary John Wayne,in the prime of his career playing Rooster Cogburn,an aging,hard-drinking,foul-mouthed United States Marshal who was once one of the West's best lawman in his prime. A teenage girl(played by Kim Darby)enlists his help in finding and tracking down the men responsible for brutally murdering her father. Along for the ride and adventure is country music superstar Glen Campbell,who not only sings the movie's theme song,but also makes his theatrical debut in this picture as a devoted and dedicated Texas Ranger who joins the odd couple in finding the killers responsible for her father's death,and bringing them to justice which will be a a task to deal with going against some dangerous desperados,among them Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper,and Bruce Dern. This movie was also Oscar nominated for Best Original Song sung by Glen Campbell. This movie was so successful in 1969 that producer Hal B. Wallis brought John Wayne back in 1975 for the sequel to "True Grit" in the title role of Rooster Cogburn,but this time around screen icon Katherine Hepburn join him for the second installment. In 2010,directors Joel and Ethan Coen did the remake with Jeff Bridges in the John Wayne role that was also Oscar nominated for Best Original Adaptation Screenplay.

Mister Caple
Mister Caple

Super Reviewer

A fourteen-year-old girl hires and accompanies a grizzled U.S. Marshal on a mission to avenge the death her father. It's rare that a re-make is better than the original, but the Coen Brothers accomplished more with this story and the characters than its progenitors. As I watched it, I couldn't help comparing the two. Jeff Bridges's Rooster Cogburn had more character, a chatty, damaged drunkard, but John Wayne is all of these things but muted; Bridges is an actor who takes more risks, unafraid to be seen vulnerable. What we don't get with Wayne's performance is any clue about why Rooster is the way he is; he's just the force that John Wayne has always represented. I did like this iteration of True Grit because it's a fine story and the characters are inherently interesting despite how much more fleshed out they are in the Coen Brothers' version. Of all the westerns I've seen, this is one of the least racist (the portrayal of Asians leaves something to be desired), and the tale is full of class tropes of revenge and heroes. It's nothing to think too deeply about, but it's a solid three-star film. Overall, despite the strengths of the original True Grit, if you're only going to see one version of this story, you should see the latest one. Overall, despi

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


True Grit is a masterpiece and is one of the greatest westerns in film history. John Wayne is a amazing actor, and in this he is probably the best person in the world who could play Rooster Cogburn. Kim Darby was my one problem with this film, she was annoying and boring and a terrible actor to play Mattie Ross. The plot was fun and and a well made adaption from the book. Overall, a classic movie, and the funny thing is, this film is my fathers #1 favorite film ever made, he made me watch this, haha.

Jim Careter
Jim Careter

Super Reviewer

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