True Grit


The last time Lisa and I went to a movie, someone cut a wire and set off the fire alarm. We managed to see the rest of the movie and were given a complimentary ticket for our trouble. This week we used the free pass however it was for a movie which I would have happily paid the price of admission.

“True Grit” was originally released in 1969 and starred John Wayne and country music singer, Glen Campbell. For those to young to have seen the original, True Grit is the story of a tough U.S.Marshall who helps a determined young lady track down the man who murdered her father. It is one of my favorite Westerns of all time and I will occasionally use the following quote from the movie in conversation, “they say you have grit.” Recently, Joel and Ethan Coen directed an version of ths movie starring Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn and Matt Damon as Texas Ranger Laboeuf. The part of young Mattie Ross was given to Hailee Steinfeld.

For those undetermined to finish this column, I will say right here that Lisa and I loved the show. If you liked the 1969 True Grit then you will probably enjoy the 2010 version. Jeff Bridges was still in “broken-down, sweaty and unhealthy” mode from his portrayal of a country music singer in “Crazy Heart” and so was perfect for the the part of the old U.S. Marshall. This Rooster Cogburn is a bit meaner and less cuddly than John Wayne and is also played closer to his description in the original book. I like Matt Damon as Texas Ranger Laboeuf better than Glenn Campbell’s portrayal. This Laboeuf really reminds me of many young police officers I’ve known; overcompensating, single dimensional and lonely but inherently good.

I think Lisa and I could agree that little Mattie Ross stole the show. John Wayne owned the first movie however little Hailee Steinfeld was the star of this show. While much of her dialogue is original to the first show, Mattie comes across as more personable and an even more judgmental pre-teen than the original. She is sweet and tough and still unholsters her attorney, J Noble Dagget, like a weapon. We also get to hear some correspondence from Dagget in the Coen version so I guess he is real, I thought in the original he was just a character Mattie created to intimidate adults.

The Coen brothers add layers to their movie by cooking each character until they caramelize. They just seem to get a little more depth and humanity from the characters in a movie. I loved John Wayne in True Grit however I think this version was a little faster, more real, much leaner and more engaging. The only thing it was missing was the Duke.

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