A hardened U.S. Marshal agrees to help a vengeful
young girl track down the man who murdered her father.
True Grit (1969)
Directed by Henry Hathaway
Written by Marguerite Roberts
Starring John Wayne, Glen Campbell, Kim Darby, Robert Duvall, Jeremy Slate, Jeff Corey, Dennis Hopper, Strother Martin,
Based on the novel by Charles Portis
Oscar Wins - Best Actor (John Wayne)
Oscar Nominations - Best Original Song (True Grit)
True Grit is one of those rare occasions where the remake outshines the original by a mile. The Coen Brothers brought their unique brand of humor, drama, and wit to this western story, and frankly, it's all something the original film seems to be missing. I don't think John Wayne should've taken home Oscar gold for this film, as it doesn't really stand out from any other cowboy role he played during his long career. While the performances are good, none of them stand out. It's mostly a dull affair that ignores the darker aspects of the novel that the 2010 version would embrace.
Kim Darby plays Mattie Ross, a stubborn teenager determined to find her father's killer and bring him to justice. To assist her, she hires drunken marshal Rooster Cogburn (Wayne) and Texas Ranger La Bouef (Glen Campbell) tags along. The dialogue and chemistry is so forced that at times, it feels like a school play. There are so many moments that drag on forever. I nearly fell asleep several times. The ending has no consequences, with everything working out for Mattie and Rooster, though La Beouf doesn't quite make out like a bandit. It's just so typical of the 20th century American western to never bother to go the extra mile to embrace the inherent lawlessness and darkness of the frontier. It makes every film seem like a conveyor belt participation trophy.
True Grit brings nothing new to the table, and despite being an Oscar winner, John Wayne continues to deliver the same shtick he's been plugging since Stagecoach. Only this time, he has an eyepatch. I really wanted to like this film, and there were times where I tried to convince myself that it was a decent film. But the forced dialogue and bloated runtime drag it down, and it doesn't hold a candle to the Coen Bros. version.