5 April 2006 | bkoganbing
The Same Sense of Integrity
A reading of the other reviews of Rooster Cogburn indicate that only fans of the two stars should look at this film. That's not saying a whole lot since this was a vehicle created for the two stars and only the two stars in this film could have brought it off.
It was a happy marriage of convenience with John Wayne's character of Rooster Cogburn from True Grit being so popular that a sequel was inevitable given Wayne's health holding up and Katharine Hepburn looking for something she could co-star with Wayne.
Hepburn was one of John Wayne's biggest boosters of his talent, politics aside. I remember reading that she thought John Wayne projected the same sense of integrity that Spencer Tracy did on the screen. Coming from her, I've got to believe that's the best compliment she could offer.
Wayne as Cogburn is on the trail of a gang that massacred an army patrol and stole a gatling gun and nitroglycerin for use in a planned bank robbery. The gang headed by Richard Jordan with Anthony Zerbe who used to scout for Wayne go to an Indian settlement with a missionary school headed by father and daughter preacher and teacher Jon Lormer and Katharine Hepburn. The gang shoots up the place and kills Lormer.
When Wayne comes he gets a lot more than he bargained for when he finds himself saddled with Hepburn and young Indian boy Richard Romancito. They accompany him on the trail of Jordan and his gang and get enough adventure to last a lifetime.
Everyone compares Hepburn as Eula Goodnight to her portrayal of another missionary, Rose Sayer in The African Queen. Both are on a chase in The African Queen with Bogey after the Germans who destroyed the mission in East Africa and killed her brother and with Wayne after some outlaws. And both films feature a very fine sequence of the two stars riding some rapids. But I think Eula Goodnight is a far more experienced woman of the world than Rose Sayer. Both disapprove of the alcoholic behavior of their male counterparts. Rose however takes some direct action.
As the film was designed around the two stars they settle comfortably in their roles. The chemistry between them is infectious, that they liked each other would be obvious to an alien from another planet.
I really envy young Richard Romancito to be in all those scenes and be able to watch a pair of screen legends.