True Grit (1969)

G   |    |  Adventure, Drama, Western


True Grit (1969) Poster

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


7.4/10
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  • John Wayne and Kim Darby in True Grit (1969)
  • John Wayne and Kim Darby in True Grit (1969)
  • John Wayne in True Grit (1969)
  • John Wayne in True Grit (1969)
  • Glen Campbell and Kim Darby in True Grit (1969)
  • Glen Campbell and Kim Darby in True Grit (1969)

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27 August 2002 | rmax304823
8
| Authentic
I have a kind of synchronistic relationship with this movie. I had dinner in a Chinese restaurant in Washington, DC, called "Chin's", and the next day sensed in the theater that the Chinese guy would be called "Chin." A bit later I bought a worn paperback copy of the novel in Mrs. Cohen's bookstore in South Windsor, Connecticut, not expecting much. The dialogue in the movie was stilted. I figured the novel was just some exercise in style. But that was wrong. The novel is even better than the movie. Charles Portis has got Arkansas of circa 1890 down pat. I looked up in the DARE all those expressions that didn't immediately click with me -- "blue john", "that's a big story," "barlow knife," "dogfall," "Christmas gift" -- and they all work. Portis hit every nail on the head, and not only with respect to lexicon. The novel as a whole is beautifully done. Not to denigrate the movie, though. Kim Darby and the other players are good. John Wayne is excellent as a character actor. His performance here ranks up there with his Captain Brittles in "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon." Why in God's name, after this, did he go back to his usual heroic roles in dismissable efforts like "The Train Robbers." Every word he utters here is "Rooster Cogburn," not "John Wayne," except for one exchange on horseback about Quantrell. Hoarse, drunk, smelly, weighty -- he embodies the part. The cinematography is without equal. Sharp, smooth. A viewer almost smells the junipers and pinon pines of the Colorado mountains and feels the nightly chill in the air and whiffs the campfire smoke. A marvelously done novel turned into as good a movie as possible. At one point, with nothing much being made of it, Kim Darby says of alcohol, "I would not put a thief in my mouth to steal my brains." Portis shouldn't get credit for that because it is a quote from Shakespeare.

I won't identify the play.

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