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Pure Western Delight
Darren-1213 January 1999
Surely one of the purest westerns ever made, a simple tale of a lawman tracking down an outlaw. This film is raised way above the norm in almost all respects: The photography is superb, with the hills, mountains, valleys and forests being the real stars; the acting is first rate, with not a weak performance in sight from even the lowliest minor character; the direction is well paced as we ride along with the 3-person-posse through the landscape and experience the minor twists of the actual hunt, as well as the evolution of the relationships between the group. The episode in which they take over a cabin by a stream and then ambush the following villains is even better than the well known finale.

Why this film hasn't had more votes and a higher rating in imdb is a complete mystery to me. I'm English, and I always thought the Americans really loved their westerns and John Wayne in particular. Can anyone explain please?
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This movie made me love John Wayne.
aura887 February 2002
This movie came out when I was just a wee gal. My grandfather was a big western fan, so I am sure I saw it at his house in between episodes of Gunsmoke. I don't remember the first time I saw it, but I remember how I came to love John Wayne. When he died in the late 70s I was crushed. I still watch this movie at least once a year, (it is on TNT or some other Turner channel at least monthly). Rooster Cogburn is, to me, the archetype of all Western heroes. He is the undeniably flawed, crochety old man that hides his tenderness behind a facade of toughness. He roams all over the west in search of bad guys, and he drinks to fill the hole inside him that loneliness has created. It is important to say that he is not a killer, or interested in revenge. His whole being, his soul, rests on the cause of justice. He is the bravest character ever created in a writer's imagination. At the end, when he jumps his horse over the fence and tells Maddie to come and see an old fat man sometime, I cry. Everytime. Despite his politics, and the fact that he was just an actor, to me John Wayne is the lone western hero that will remain in my heart for all my life.
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Beware The One-Eyed Duke
slokes8 May 2006
"Come see a fat old man sometime!"

John Wayne's parting comment in this film is directed as much at us the viewers as it is at the young woman his Rooster Cogburn character is addressing. In a way, Wayne throughout the film plays off the image he cemented in dozens of great and near-great westerns, with a nod that by 1969, he along with the western genre had fallen behind the times, that his shoot-first approach to law and order had worn thin with the critical establishment just as it does in Judge Parker's courtroom.

In that way, playing a character of such dogged homicidal cussedness as the hard-drinking, one-eyed ex-Quantrill Raider Rooster Cogburn and giving him a teenaged girl seeking justice to play off so as to showcase his essential decency seems a clever means to win Wayne an Oscar, which he finally did here, a sentimental triumph over some more heralded performances. With such an attitude, you might think "True Grit" would come off a bit of a one-trick pony 37 years on. But it doesn't. In many ways, both the film and Wayne's performance come off better than ever.

Helping matters a lot is the support Wayne receives from two women. As the heroine, Matty Ross, Kim Darby provides Wayne with a fantastic foil, doughty to the point of rudeness, forever finding fault in others but earning your good will through her simple faith in justice and loyalty to the memory of her slain father, for whom she wants Rooster's help avenging. As she is told by a horse dealer she banters with: "I admire your sand."

The other is Marguerite Roberts, whose adaptation of Charles Portis' novel bristles with good humor and an ear for the period. "If ever I meet one of you Texas waddies who ain't drunk water from a hoofprint, I think I'll... I'll shake their hand or buy 'em a Daniel Webster cee-gar," Rooster tells his braggart riding companion, a young Texas Ranger played by country singer and ex-Beach Boy Glen Campbell.

Campbell may be a novice and a third wheel in the interplay between Wayne and Darby, but he acquits himself well and delivers a worthy performance in a cast stacked with talented actors like Robert Duvall, Jeremy Slate, and Strother Martin, not to mention Dennis Hopper, hiding the long hair he made famous in "Easy Rider" that same year. Some of these actors portray bad guys, but Roberts' script and director Henry Hathaway's languid pacing allow them to present some humanizing qualities that go a long way toward making "True Grit" more than your typical shoot-em-up oater.

Even Jeff Corey, who plays a no-account named Chaney who shot Matty's father, has a funny scene when he tells Matty how to cock her pistol, then whines after she shoots him with it: "Everything happens to me!"

About the only fault I can find with the film is Elmer Bernstein's bombastic score, which employs overly ornate orchestration like kettledrums when Matty has her showdown with Chaney and is tuneless apart from the title song, which is Campbell's best moment here. Hathaway's direction is somewhat pedestrian but serves the script, and showcases some incredible autumnal vistas of tall birch and pine where Rooster and Matty search for Chaney, photographed by Lucien Ballard in a style akin to (but more dreamy than) his work on the same year's "The Wild Bunch."

1969 was the last great year for westerns, with this, "The Wild Bunch," "Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid," "Support Your Local Sheriff" and "Once Upon A Time In the West," and its interesting how Ballard, Corey, and Strother Martin turned up in more than one of them. But good westerns never really go out of style, they just sit on the shelf awhile like an old Stetson waiting to be rediscovered. Nobody wore a Stetson better, or deserved an Oscar more, than John Wayne. "True Grit" does the double duty of showing why he was a star and further burnishing his luster.
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A Western adventure on its own account...
Nazi_Fighter_David3 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Henry Hathaway's "True Grit" can stand up very well as Western adventure on its own account—the story of a young girl (Kim Darby) coolly hiring an old lawman (John Wayne) to seek out the murderer (Jeff Corey) of her father… Texas Ranger Glen Campbell rides along in the hope of collecting reward money…

Suspense, action—the film has more than its share—and the practiced hand of Hathaway sees that justice is done in these terms… But when this has faded, when perhaps even the engaging and forceful Kim Darby has extent in time, Wayne's portrait of that fat, mean, greedy, eye-patched, Whisky drinking and yet in some strange way lovable lawman will remain… It will remain as a fine comedy performance, not as self-parody of his many Western roles, as has been rather ungraciously suggested...

Marshal Rooster Cogburn is a kind of a tough U.S. Marshal with a cutting edge… Without any doubt the West knew characters like him... John Ford would know exactly what Wayne was about in this role…

When he says in the declining moments of this picture: 'Come and see a fat old man some time,' that's a standing invitation… Audiences will want a peek at this portrait for some considerable time to come…
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The Honor of a Lifetime
bkoganbing21 March 2006
Now personally there are John Wayne performances in terms of acting that I like better than True Grit. Among others Fort Apache, The Searchers, Red River, The Horse Soldiers, to name a few. And certain films like The Commancheros and McLintock and Big Jake I find to be more entertaining.

What True Grit does is succeed on both levels, being both great entertainment and giving John Wayne the acting role of a lifetime in the person of Rooster Cogburn.

Mattie Ross from Darnell and Yell County Arkansas personified by Kim Darby has come to Fort Smith seeking the killer of her father Jeff Corey. Turns out he's also killed a State Senator in Texas so Texas Ranger Glen Campbell informs her. Both of them team up with United States Marshal Rooster Cogburn who resides in Fort Smith with Chin Lee and my favorite movie cat, General Sterling Price.

Corey is now in the outlaw band headed by Robert Duvall at large in the Indian Nation Territory that became Oklahoma. True Grit's plot is the trio's pursuit of Duvall, Corey and the rest of the gang.

But oddly enough True Grit isn't really about plot. It's about the creation of a character. Like Margaret Mitchell who wrote Gone With the Wind with Clark Gable in mind for Rhett Butler, Charles Portis wrote the novel True Grit with only John Wayne in mind as Rooster Cogburn. It must have been one singular delight for Charles Portis to see the Duke flesh out Rooster Cogburn exactly as he conceived him.

Tough old Rooster, likes an occasional drink, isn't above a little larceny, but has one stern moral code about real bad guys. Bring him in dead or alive and make sure you shoot first coming up against them. And he's got quite the colorful past as he relates tales of his younger days to Campbell and Darby on the trail.

In other reviews I've said that John Wayne had one of the great faces for movie closeups. You can see a perfect example of that in that scene with John Fiedler who plays Darby's lawyer J. Noble Daggett. A man who rates high in the legal profession in that area having forced a railroad into bankruptcy.

The camera is facing Fiedler as he's talking to Wayne about his visit with Darby who's life Wayne saved. Wayne's got about a third of his face to the camera. But even with that third, your eyes are focused on the Duke and his reactions and then as the camera slowly pans around to Wayne in full face his reaction shots are hysterical. You don't work with scene stealing character actors like Chill Wills, Walter Brennan, and Gabby Hayes for 30 years without learning something.

John Wayne was up against some stiff competition in 1969 for the Best Actor Oscar. It was his second nomination, the first being for Sands of Iwo Jima. He was facing Richard Burton as Henry VIII in Anne of a Thousand Days and a couple of newcomers named Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight for Midnight Cowboy. He was certainly the sentimental favorite.

If in no other place in our lives, sentiment does have its place in cinema. It was an honor well deserved, not just for one performance but for a lifetime of achievement in cinema being the player who put more people into movie seats than any other person ever. So many of the Duke's contemporaries like Edward G. Robinson, Errol Flynn, Tyrone Power were never even nominated for an Oscar much less win one.

Because the Motion Picture Academy has deemed this John Wayne's grandest cinematic achievement, it's almost a command to support this fine western and the man who defined the western hero and is still defining it.
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It's all about the dialogue
mmartin6772 September 2002
Like most Americans, I have seen hundreds, maybe thousands of westerns in my life. I don't care for them much, primarily because I usually can't fall for them.

In movies, the desire to please as wide an audience as possible seems always to win out, effectively robbing most westerns of the motion picture's essential gambit; the suspension of disbelief. It's very hard to lose oneself in a tale of the late 1800's when the female lead's eye-liner and coiff are pure 1950. Or 1940, 1960, whatever. In True Grit, very little of 1969 is allowed to intrude on this rather simple tale of justice and revenge. This movie is anchored by two very strong themes, shared by all the actors, across most of the scenes.

The first, is language. The dialogue is an absolute delight. Crack open anything by Mark Twain, Henry James or any other late 19th century author, and you will see that people really did speak differently 150 years ago. That the dialogue in 99% of westerns is straight from the time of their filming is a travesty, at best.

Second, is innocence. Not that of any one character however, but the innocence of the human race as a whole. It is probably almost impossible for any of us now, in this day and age, to truly imagine what it must have been like to live back when. But one thing's sure, people were much more naive. There was no such thing as mass-communication, a good percentage of the population didn't read, and newspapers, the only "organized" form of news at the time, were hard pressed to report on anything more than a day's ride from town.

This basic, shared innocence is achingly portrayed by Robert Duvall in two short sentences near the end of the movie when he's caught Mattie and he's attempting to threaten her. Study those two lines, and you'll see that "Lucky" Ned Pepper, the worst villain in the story, really has no idea of what he could possibly do to a slip of a girl. He's totally at a loss. The unspeakable, modern-day atrocities we consume every day with our coffee and bagels are so far from contemplation by Duvall's character, that all he can do is assure her, "I'll do what I have to". It's a priceless moment - frighteningly accurate commentary wrapped in two lines of simple dialogue, delivered with dead-on interpretation.

The only other western I can think of at the moment that delivers with such viscerally historic accuracy is "Unforgiven".

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By God, he doesn't remind me of me!
Spondonman26 December 2005
First on UK BBC1 on Christmas Day 1974 and shown again many times since has meant I never bothered taping this classic - now I've seen it umpteen times it still leaves me smiling. The relentlessly eccentric badinage between the 3 main characters and others should be enough to make anyone smile, even with a little violence and a few serious points raised along the way.

A tough man on a tough hunt for a gang of toughs - it's John Wayne's film all the way, with this he passed into his last phase in the saddle with a continuous wink at the cowboy parody he had become and which no-one else will ever match. By now after 40 years he was an American legend, your giant avuncular instant-lawman starring in his next horse opera - True Grit would really be nothing special without him, with the fat old man it's a nice Western comedy. We in the audience knew he had Grit before he came on, Kim Darby was just too slow on the uptake. I never understood why the script was so uncharitable to the Texican horse-killing son of a bitch Campbell, he's belittled right up to the scenes in Mattie's family graveyard.

Overall a shot in the arm (or leg!) if seen every few years - even in 1969 entertaining action films could still be made!
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The quintessential western
Marta27 February 1999
There isn't a false note in this film. Charles Portis' book of the same name is practically adapted verbatim to the screen; this is the purest book to movie transfer I've yet seen, and this assures its success.

John Wayne worked for 50 years to get to this role, and no one else could have played it. He becomes Rooster Cogburn; it revitalized his career and made everyone finally take notice of his skills as an actor. I love Wayne in anything, but this movie has a special place in my heart.

Kim Darby is also a surprise. She's more than capable of handling Wayne in each and every scene. They made a very good team. Glen Campbell is not as good as these two, but then he really isn't an actor. He does have his moments, though, and acquits himself with aplomb as the Texas Ranger. Strother Martin is a real hoot as Stonehill, the horse trader; he's always a great asset to any film, and this must have been his 10th appearance in a Wayne movie. Robert Duvall is very good and very harried as Lucky Ned Pepper. He's not a wanton killer; he doesn't kill, or even hurt, Kim Darby. He's just a thief who wants to be left alone, and you can see by his worried expression that he knows Rooster won't ever let him go. Dennis Hopper and Jeremy Slate have a small, very fine scene in the middle of the movie, where they are partners in crime who don't see things in the same way.

A previous review talks about the low amount of votes on this film by people in the US. I would chalk that up to the age group that saw this film and loved it. Most of those people are not into computers yet, and probably don't know about the IMDB. Believe me, it's considered a classic, and rightfully so.

This is a fine family film that everyone should see. Rent it, buy it, or borrow it, but do watch it. It will make anyone a John Wayne fan. And be sure to read the book; I couldn't put it down.
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More than Just a Fat Old Man
JamesHitchcock3 January 2006
"True Grit" deals with one of the classic Western themes, indeed one of the classic themes in all literature- revenge. A teenage girl, Mattie Ross, is looking for someone who will help her track down Tom Chaney, the man who murdered her father. The man Mattie chooses is Rooster Cogburn, a US Marshal. Cogburn is elderly, fat, one-eyed and a heavy drinker, but Mattie chooses him because she has heard that he has "true grit". The two of them set out into the Indian Territory in search of Chaney, accompanied by La Boeuf (shouldn't that be Le Boeuf?), a Texas ranger who wants to arrest him in connection with another murder.

This is perhaps best remembered today as the film for which John Wayne won his only Oscar. Halliwell's Film Guide rather ungraciously refers to it as a "sentimental Oscar, for daring to look old and fat", but there is more to Wayne's performance than that. The Academy, in fact, had tended to overlook Wayne, just as they overlooked the Western genre which provided him with most of his roles; well over a hundred films had only brought him two previous nominations. Cogburn, however, was one of his best roles. On the surface a hard-bitten, irascible old man, he has hidden depths to his character- not only the courage and determination implied by the phrase "true grit", but also a sense of humour and a capacity for tenderness. Cogburn is a lonely man, divorced from his wife and alienated from his only son, and his only friends are a Chinese storekeeper (a rare acknowledgement from Hollywood that not every inhabitant of the West was either white or an Indian) and his cat. A close relationship, however, grows up between him and the orphaned Mattie, for whom he becomes a substitute father. In turn, she becomes the daughter he never had- or perhaps even a substitute son.

Mattie is a complex character. There is much about her that is androgynous- her tomboy looks, her short hair, even her name, which can be short for Matthew as well as Matilda or Martha. She is brave and determined (there is a suggestion that the phrase "true grit" applies to her as well), but can also be a pain in the neck, especially to Cogburn. She is at times wise in the ways of the world and at others strangely innocent. She is part avenging angel, part bookish intellectual (shown by her rather formal language) and part vulnerable child. It is a role that called for an outstanding performance and got one from Kim Darby who was able to bring out all the various facets of Mattie's character. (This is the only film of hers that I have seen, but it seems strange on the strength of this that her subsequent cinema career has been so patchy). Unfortunately, Glenn Campbell, a singer with little previous acting experience, made a weak La Boeuf. It is probably as well that John Wayne did not get his way when he wanted Karen Carpenter, a singer with absolutely no previous acting experience, to play the role of Mattie instead of Darby. Great actors do not always make great casting directors.

"True Grit" does not perhaps have the depth of meaning of some of the truly great Westerns, such as "High Noon", "Unforgiven" or Wayne's last film, "The Shootist", but it is a very good one. It is a fast-moving and exciting adventure, notable for some beautiful photography of mountainous landscapes (although it is ostensibly set in relatively flat Oklahoma, it was actually filmed in Colorado and California), for one of the great iconic moments of the Western (the scene where Cogburn gallops alone into battle, guns blazing, against four opponents) and for two excellent performances in the two main roles. 7/10
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50 times
adonmyer19 May 2006
I have grown up watching this movie, and must have seen it 50 times. This is my mother's favorite movie and most members of my family can recite this movie line for line. The quotes from this movie go into every day conversation among my aunts and uncles almost every time I see them. "I've got some more horse trading to do" or "Baby Sister" or "we ain't got no lemonade neither" have been heard a few times Every time I watch this it gets better, I have seen most of John Wayne's movies and this is by far the best. I've never read the book, I usually find books better than the actual movies, I wouldn't want to find out that the movie and book don't follow each other. Please, no one ever remake this movie, I can't imagine a better version!
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Wondrous and thoroughly competent western breathing life into a tale of revenge, whilst unafraid of going full bore into the souls and minds of the characters it depicts.
johnnyboyz12 July 2011
The film begins on that of the homely, often perceived as 'safe', locale of a farm ranch in 1880's Arkansas; the Ross family are bidding farewell to their husband and father of the place in Frank, eventually seeing him roll on out of there with a lodger after the establishment it would be safer to take a train, rather than ride horseback, to where they're going. The lodger, of whom, takes minimal belongings for such a hike and whose reply to such an accusation is dry and understated, as if something were brewing in his mind and he were never going to return to here. Away from the more congregated goodbyes sits a young girl inside of an establishment, she shares an exchange with her father which is granted a more personalised and lower-key sense, during which she is established to be quite the one for having her own voice; rather sharp on the accounting side of things and takes a stance on an issue to do with the purchasing of ponies before stating such a standpoint in a concise manner.

The young girl is a certain Mattie, played extraordinarily by Kim Darby; a character whose role it is to waltz into the male dominated patriarchy of the western genre and upset the balance as this young; seemingly frail, but ultimately female, presence putting her foot down. The crux of authenticity in Darby's quite stunning performance runs in tandem with that of her character's predicament; within the film, she is somebody whom must confront and often stand up to certain individuals of a hardened and established ilk, before often coming to have to dominate proceedings in their presence. This is something in lieu of Darby's own predicament, that of having to match up to that of a figure of John Wayne's stature in this, a Western, and have to match him within the frame as well as the universe of the film.

In short, Henry Hathaway's bare boned 1969 western is a near faultless masterpiece; an exciting, unpredictable and more than substantial film balancing several acts at once as it breathlessly tells a tale that is difficult to find anything less than thoroughly absorbing. The film is directed with distinct aplomb; make no mistake, his film is unafraid to place children on the front-line and in the firing line of a west we very much sense is "wild". It is a west that sees animals get caught up, and often killed, in the ensuing chaos; a west that sees an array of lowlifes all intermingling with one another and the elements, those of whose actions and motivations we can never take for granted and of which are told amidst a background of brutality lending a great air of ambiguity to proceedings as we wonder if anybody is entirely safe.

The catalyst for proceedings is in the tragedy that is Frank's death; shot and killed by his accomplice lodger whilst trying to help him in the aftermath of a poker game. In reaction to this, Mattie journeys to the town in which he was killed so as to hire a Marshall to find the man and garner some justice; her witnessing of several other criminals guilty for similar crimes publicly hung allowing her exposure to what awaits such justice. That Marshall eventually turns out to be a certain Rooster Cogburn, John Wayne's Civil War veteran, who's living a life of rounding up disparate arrays of crooks and bandits from local territories and holding them in cells overnight so as to take courtroom lectures the following morning over, what we perceive to be from Cogburn's perspective, negligent intricacies over whom shot what first and in what order this-and-that happened. The manner in which Cogburn kicks an inmate towards the jail house in that lazed manner, as if he's done it so many times before that it's become too many times before, is prominent; a sense of the guy going through motions in rounding these guys up with little pleasure derived from the fact he has helped bring peace to those to whom it matters.

Mattie and Cogburn eventually link up, his enthusiasm only truly omnipresent when she is able to show him hard cash; her smaller, sharper posture, more colourful display of attire and verbal eloquence in relatively stark contrast to that of his larger build, slurred tone, more erratic body movements and clothing dulled by months of dirt. Along for good measure is that of a Texan ranger named La Boeuf (Campbell), somebody who challenges Mattie's transgressions and whose stake for the same man she's after is a lot more on account he's guilty of killing a politician. Where the film is effectively Mattie's as a tale of revenge, the film does really well to encompass Cogburn's arc of going out to find a wanted man, like he always does, but this time identifying what he's doing and for whom he's doing it. Principally, the coming to learn; accept and acknowledge life, or justice, as something worth going out and fighting for or battling toward, in the action of searching for this man rather than merely treating it as a part of the daily grind, is prominent. The film keeps the interplay between the three of them tasty throughout, and we enjoy Mattie's ability to bring a sense of the controlled or of the informed to her surroundings as well as to those with whom she interacts, in what is a persistently captivating series of clashes Hathaway keeps moving and brooding with and affecting eye on numerous things.
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rmax30482327 August 2002
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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Wayne shines as a drunken and two-fisted U.S. Marshall who helps a teen girl track down her dad's killer
ma-cortes11 March 2012
Stunning Western based on Charles Portis's novel and adapted by Marguerite Roberts about a hard-nosed , tough U.S. Marshal and a Texas Ranger who help an obstinate 14-years-old young woman track down her father's murderer in Indian territory ; being object a recent remake by Coen Brothers , Joel and Ethan with Jeff Bridges . Mattie Ross (Kim Darby , subsequently played by Hailee Steinfeld), a teenager from Yell County, Arkansas, is determined to revenge the killing of her daddy . Frank Ross was killed by his hired hand , Tom Cheney ( Jeff Corey , ulterior role by Josh Brolin), after attempting to dissuade an alcoholic Cheney from shooting a fellow card player who had cheated him . Cheney stole Ross's horse and fled the town . Enraged that no one bothered to pursue or convict Cheney, Mattie decides to take the investigation into her own hands . Leaving her mother and two younger siblings at home, Mattie journeys to Fort Smith where her dad was murdered . She identifies his body at the undertakers . She sells a string of ponies back to the reluctant seller (Strother Martin) and acquires three hundred and twenty dollars from the sale . After consulting the local sheriff (John Doucette) , she settles on the marshal described as the meanest : Rueben Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne's Academy Award-winning , posterior role by Jeff Bridges) , Mattie resolves to contact an U.S. marshal to pursue and catch Tom Cheney . And she attempts to hire him but is rebuffed . Mattie makes a second attempt after a court hearing at which Cogburn was questioned, but Cogburn turns her down again, doubting that she actually possesses amount of dollars she offered him as a reward for Cheney's capture . Renting a room at a Fort Smith boarding house, she meets a Texas Ranger , LaBouef ( Glen Campbell , posterior character performed by Matt Damon) and they along with Cogburn go to track down Cheney , Ned Pepper (Robert Duvall) and hoodlums .

Gentle entertainment about a tough-minded , hard-bitten bounty hunter and a fearless bargainer , stubborn adolescent in the Old West starred by the master of the western , an over-the-hill John Wayne , he is magnificent expert in the art of conjuring stylish , here stars this atypical but amusing western with a lot of jokes , distinguished moments , comical attitudes but also violence and action . Wayne deservedly won his best actor Academy Award for this 1960 portrayal of the boozy Marshal . Likable Kim Darby as an obstinate teen is very good , she is extremely quick-witted and confident . The enjoyable story is enhanced for entertaining moments developed among main characters and especially on the relationship between John Wayne and Kim Darby . Impressive final scenes dealing with a spectacular showdown between Rooster Cogburn and chief baddie well played by Robert Duvall. The stellar cast is accompanied with familiar hearted features , some excellent secondary actors as Robert Duvall , Dennis Hooper , Strother Martin , Jeff Corey , Jeremy Slate , Dennis Hooper , among others . Splendid musical score by Elmer Berstein in his usual style as 'The Magnificent seven' , 'The Comancheros' and '4 sons of Katie Elder' . Coloful cinematography by Lucien Ballard , mostly filmed in Natural parks from Montrose, Colorado,Owl Creek Pass ,Ridgway, Colorado, Sherwin Summit, Inyo National Forest and Durango, Mexico . Followed by a sequel titled ¨Rooster Cogburn¨ with Wayne and Katherine Hepburn and a TV movie with Warren Oates and Lisa Pelikan .

Well and professionally realized by Henry Hathaway with strong screen presence by John Wayne , both of whom collaborated in various Westerns , they included ¨Five Card Stud¨ , ¨North to Alaska¨ , ¨Rooster Cogburn¨ and ¨4 sons of Katie Elder¨ . Hathaway himself was only even nominated for an Oscar , but his movies themselves are testimony to his skills to heighten narrative tension and shoot action so exhilarating it made adrenalin run . Henry was a craftsman who had a long career from the 30s with successful films , and especially Westerns , as ¨Brigham Young¨ and ¨Raw Hide¨ . In his 60s Hathaway still got the vigour to make some fiery movies as ¨From Hell to Texas¨, ¨How the West was won¨, ¨Nevada Smith¨, and ¨Shoot out¨ . He was an expert on Western genre as he proved in ¨True grit , Five card stud , Nevada Smith , How the West was won , Rawhide , Brigham Young , Buffalo Stampede, Garden of evil¨ and ¨The sons of Katie Elder¨. Rating : Better than average , nice Western that will appeal to John Wayne fans. Action , interesting plot , top-notch performance and breathtaking last half hour make it fine screen amusement . It's still one of the Duke classics .
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Not perfect, but very good on the whole
TheLittleSongbird6 February 2011
I do not think this is John Wayne's best movie or role, but I did like this movie, though I do not think it is perfect. While the film starts and ends very well, the film slackens in the pace in the middle. My other flaws are to do with casting. Glen Campbell is adequate in his role, but I was never engrossed by his character and he never quite make me believe in him. Worst though was Kim Darby, I am not going to go through a debate about whether she was too old for the role(I'll drop a hint, I think she was), but for me she is one of the blandest and most annoying leading ladies in a John Wayne movie.

However, the film does look great. Handsomely shot with great scenery, True Grit is pleasing to the eye. Elmer Bernstein's score is rousing and very fitting, while the story is interesting, most of the characters are credible and the script flows well. Also True Grit is very well directed, and there is a glorious final shoot-out. Other than Campbell and Darby, the other acting is fine. While I would have not personally given the Oscar to this particular performance(I thought he was better in The Searchers, Red River and The Quiet Man) John Wayne is excellent here, and while he doesn't appear until quite later on Robert Duvall also makes a positive impression.

All in all, a very good film but could have been better in my view. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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My favorite movie of all time.
rip-1419 May 1999
I am from Fort Smith, the purported locale of this film. This is my favorite movie of all time, but I can assure you that eastern Oklahoma looks nothing like the beautiful panoramas in this movie, too bad. The last of and the greatest western ever filmed. I cannot think of one after it that can match it. The "Old West" may never have really lived but it sure died around the turn of the century and its life on the silver screen died along with John Wayne. This movie was easily his pinnacle. As for Glenn being so bad, well he is from Arkansas, God Bless'im and he was forced to play the role of a Texan... tough.
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A definitive adventure!!
ledzapplin0071 July 2003
What is a Western? The genre conjures up images of gun totting cowboys, reckless outlaws and fierce encounters in countryside saloons. True, this was the setting that prevailed during the 19th century American West.

A few directors in the past have tried to present the West in a more refined way, giving importance to the settings and the characterization. Among them is Henry Hathaway's True Grit, an emotionally charged Western about a fearless; one-eyed Marshall named Rooster Cogburn.

The film very stylishly brings to fore the Western countryside, from the scenario at a public hanging to the courtroom drama. In the latter we see some tense and heated exchange of words between the prosecuting lawyer and the Marshall.

The intriguing plot unfolds itself very nicely on the silver screen. The story is simple. Tom Cheney, a cowboy, kills his employer. Maddie (Kim Darby), the headstrong daughter of the employer, vows to take revenge and get Cheney hanged for the murder of her father. For the mission she enlists the support of one Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne). Now this Rooster is the meanest Marshall in the entire territory. Having lost one of his eyes in the war, he is totally fearless in disposition, talks brazenly and has an unconventional sense of humor. Despite his hardened exterior, he is warm and benevolent at heart. This is evident in the conversations between him and Maddie.

The third angle to the mission comes in the form of Sgt Lebeof (Glen Campbell), an enthusiastic Texas Ranger, who is after Cheney for his own motive of collecting ransom money. At first instance, Maddie has reservations about Lebeof. He comes across as an ill mannered, uncivilized guy to her. Convinced that Maddie will not make him a party to the pursuit of Cheney, Lebeof, secretively, unknowing from her, teams up with Rooster. He takes Rooster into confidence and through him manages an entry into the chase for Cheney.

The character of Lebeof is an interesting study. He comes across as an inexperienced person who has a knack for saying something silly all the times. He is rebuked many times for such uttering by both Maddie and Rooster.

Rooster had his own reasons for going after Cheney. It so happened that this Cheney was an accomplice of ‘Lucky' Ned Pepper (Robert Duvall) and Rooster had some unfinished business with Ned. He recently had shot Ned in the lower lip during a confrontation but Ned had escaped. Now this chase provided Rooster with another shot at Ned.

The chase is beautifully picturized. Especially the final confrontation between Ned's gang and Rooster. The action sequence in this scene must be seen to be believed.

The reverberating and sweet music score by Elmer Bernstein forms an integral part of the plot. Glen Campbell has rendered the opening title song in his trademark voice. True Grit is a treat to watch for its believable depiction of the life and times of the West. Henry Hathaway, a specialist director of the crime, western and thriller genre has masterfully directed this flick. Re-uniting with Wayne after Sons of Katie Elder (1965), he has managed to extract the very best from his leading man. John Wayne has essayed the role of his lifetime. It is impossible to imagine anybody but him in the lead role as a tough, uncouth and drunken Marshall. Interestingly, Wayne won his only Oscar for this role in 1970.
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True Grit is truly one of the best westerns ever made.
Big Phil24 March 2000
This is one of the best Westerns ever made. I think the script makes it so enjoyably watchable, over and over again. I think that's probably how people talked back then. There's plenty of low-key humor too. You can tell that John Wayne and Glen Campbell enjoyed their roles but played them straight. The characters are well-drawn and unique. Even after 30 years I still remember the names of even minor characters, J. Noble Daggett, Tom Chaney and The Original Mexican. Who could ever forget the showdown between Ned Pepper and Rooster Cogburn? "Fill yer hand" (with this movie) and see how good a Western can and should be!
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Good western
billcr123 May 2012
John Wayne finally won a Best Actor Oscar for playing Rooster Cogburn, an old and tired U.S. Marshal. He is hired by a fourteen year old girl, Mattie(Kim Darby) to track down Tom Chaney, her father's killer who is on the run with Ned Pepper(Robert Duvall) another notorious outlaw who has had previous run ins with the lawman.

Though uninvited, Mattie buys a horse and follows Rooster and a Texas Marshal, La Boeuf(Glen Campbell) whose motive is a $1,500 reward for the capture of Chaney. The three plan to stay at a supposedly empty cabin, only to find two horse thieves resting and waiting for Pepper, who shows up the next day but escapes after a bloody gunfight killing two of the gang.

More gun battles between the good guys and bad guys occur, in typical western fashion, and Mattie is bitten by a rattlesnake, causing Rooster big trouble in getting her to a doctor in time. I won't give away the ending,, but it is satisfactory.
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Darby Makes This Wayne Western Special
ccthemovieman-13 March 2006
John Wayne and Kim Darby make this simple story a fun two hours of entertainment. It probably was another case of Hollywood giving away Academy Awards (Wayne for best actor) for longevity in the business, if nothing else, because Wayne is fine but nothing exceptional here. This is the same role he played in Big Jake, The Searchers and a number of other films.

But, he's fun to watch and listen to, as usual. The difference between this western and Wayne's others was Kim Darby, a fresh-faced strong-willed young woman who gives the story its unique angle. Even though Wayne is given the responsibility and chasing down the bad guys, it's really Darby doing it as young woman seeking the killer of her father.

Darby doesn't come off, though, as some hardened woman. She's too cute for that, but she's feisty, doesn't take no for an answer and this role came along right at the beginnings of the feminist movement so it made her a popular figure at that time. Too bad she, or Hollywood, didn't capitalize more on her looks and talent. I don't know why she never made it as a film star because she certainly had the appeal in this movie.

Anyway Wayne played what he played best: a crotchety-but-likable old man who delivered a lot of interesting lines. He's always tough on the outside but with a soft spot deep inside.

The oddball in here was singer Glen Campbell, playing a Texas Ranger and being the third person in the killer-hunting trio. He wasn't bad, but not being a professional actor, he wasn't totally convincing, either. I don't really understand that choice of putting him in this role.

Check out the actors who have minor roles in here: Jeremy Slate, Strother Martin, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper and more. Wow!

One other question I had. How can this be rated "G?" I thought that meant nothing offensive was in the film, yet Wayne uses a number of damns, several "bast--ds," and one memorable "son of a bit-h!" And it's rated "G?" Huh? Anyway, it's a very entertaining western that I always enjoy watching. As in most westerns, you'll see some great scenery too which makes having this in widescreen DVD a good choice.
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Come see a fat old man sometime!
dho-224 January 1999
He may have been 62 years old with only one lung when he made True Grit, but John Wayne fills the screen with energy. His portrayal of Rooster Cogburn deservedly won him an Oscar.

Cogburn seems an unlikely Western hero: he's old and fat, wears the wrong colour of hat and likes to pull a cork. Yet he's the marshall that Mattie Ross hires to bring her father's killer to justice. The fact that she insists on coming along to help him is perhaps the weakest aspect of the story but the end result is so enjoyable that we can forgive this.

Robert Duvall, as Lucky Ned Pepper, makes a great job of playing the leader of the outlaw band Rooster, Ross and Ranger have to confront.

The action culminates in a scene that no other western has matched before or since.
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Some men you just can't reach!
TrueGrit28 June 1999
The Duke is an institution alone and definitely cannot be reached. This is the one movie that I would give a Martian who flies from outer space and wants to know, who the hell is John Wayne!? Glen Campbell once said his acting was so bad it made the Duke look good.(Wayne won his first and only Oscar) In fact, Campbell's performance was quite good in his acting debut and I truly believe that if he had not been in this movie it wouldn't have been as successful and just another "DUKE" movie. At the time(1969), Glen Campbell was the hottest star in the world. A top 5 variety show & 6 albums in Billboards Hot 100...Did you hear me, I said 6(including #1,...Beatles #2)! The opening song on True Grit is the perfect door that opens to another time. 1969 to be exact! I remember going to the Tennessee Theatre with my Mom, step-father & some neighbors and how the movie gives me such a warm, safe feeling inside to this day of a time growing up as a kid in the south( AT THAT TIME ).Although the movie takes place post Civil War it still feels post summer of Montana. Kim Darby is really the main character and gives a perfect performance as Madie Ross, but the man who puts the spice in Grit is the late, great Strother Martin! Although in the movie for a total of 10 minutes,"classic" Strother is what he is,"the best damned character actor ever" and never at a loss for words. The bargaining scenes with Darby could be entered in a short-story movie at a film festival! Never ceases to crack me up. Bottom line, the perfect Sunday in the Fall movie & from my experience 40 years of age & up appreciate this movie alot more, don't ask me why I'm 37.
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Kim Darby still owns the role
210west12 October 2016
People's memories are short, and too many people have seen only Hailee Steinfeld's portrayal of Mattie. Let me cast my vote for the screen's first Mattie Ross, Kim Darby, who turned in the superior performance. (And I don't blame Steinfeld herself; for all their brilliance as filmmakers, the Coens are hit-or-miss with actors.) Darby looks a bit older than Steinfeld, more womanly (despite the hat and the shorter hair), and her voice is softer and more feminine -- yet her line readings are paradoxically steelier and more intense. When Steinfeld recites Portis's deliberately stiff, formal, old-fashioned, nearly contraction-free dialogue, her delivery sounds odd, like an immigrant imitating English; Darby speaks the same formal lines more naturally and makes Mattie a more believable figure, and a far more appealing one.
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Fill Yore Hands You Sonofabitch!
bsmith555221 May 2005
"True Grit" provided John Wayne with a long overdue Oscar for his performance as the crusty old whiskey swilling Marshal Rooster Cogburn. Many feel that this award was given more to honor Wayne's 40 plus years in the business than for this one performance. Maybe so, but this film still rates as one of his best.

The story starts out with Frank Ross (John Pickard) being shot down in Fort Smith by hired man Tom Cheney (Jeff Corey). Ross' daughter Mattie (Kim Darby) comes to town seeking justice. To this end she engages a one-eyed boozing overweight marshal named Rooster Cogburn to go after Cheney. A Texas Ranger, La Boeuf (Glen Campbell), also seeking Cheney, throws in with the pair,

After unsuccessfully trying to shake off the talkative and persistent Mattie, Cogburn and La Boeuf take her along on their quest. It seems that Cheney has been seen running with Little Ned Pepper (Robert Duvall) and his gang. Pepper captures Mattie when she stumbles across Cheney and tries to bring him in. This leads to the final showdown where.....

Wayne is excellent as Cogburn, poking fun at his he-man image. Campbell, who as an actor, made a great singer, and Darby would appear in "Norwood" the following year. The film bombed and Campbell's film career virtually ended. Kim Darby is charming as the pesky Mattie and almost steals the picture. The direction by veteran Henry Hathaway is crisp and keeps the story moving. The scenery too is breath taking.

Also in the cast are Jeremy Slate and Dennis Hopper in an all too brief appearance as two of Duvall's henchmen, Strother Martin in a hilarious sequence as the horse trader, trading with Mattie and James Westerfield as "Hanging Judge" Parker. Appearing briefly in don;t blink or you'll miss them roles are Wilford Brimley, Myron Healey, Hank Worden and Jay Silverheels. And not to forget Rooster's room mates Chen Lee (H.W. Gim) and General Sterling Price.

One can't help but notice the similarity in the hanging party sequence between this film and Clint Eastwood's "Hang 'em High" (1968).

Wayne would reprise his role in 1975's "Rooster Cogburn" with Katherine Hepburn.
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John Wayne was always a great actor
prodosh_bhattacharya22 December 2006
Proves what I say in the summary. For further proof, see THE SEARCHERS, RED RIVER, CAHILL and his splendid farewell movie THE SHOOTIST. I should add SANDS OF IWO JIMA. Although, I think there should have been a best actor and best actress award for this film, the latter going to Kim Darby. What a splendid play between the two! It has been rightly said that Portis' novel was about a teen-aged girl, the film is about John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn. That's how I saw the film, and I think it works extremely well. Good of Marguerite Roberts to have ended with Rooster riding off with a flourish over the snow. The sequel, ROOSTER COGBURN, was disappointing, though, in spite of Katherine Hepburn. The build up is effective, the father getting killed and the daughter making all necessary efforts to deal with the situation the family faces, before appointing - and riding off behind - the marshal. The adventure,when it comes, is absorbing, the violence coming in well-spaced out episodes. The humour is delicious, and the slowly-growing relationship between Rooster and Patty (?)is a pleasure to watch. Glen Campbell also puts in a creditable performance. What one particularly appreciates is the keeping out of any romantic involvement between him and Darby.
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The script is the real star of True Grit
d-twentyman5 February 2005
I read "True Grit" as a serial in the Saturday Evening Post, and anxiously awaited the delivery of each issue to find out what would happen next. When the movie was released, I went to it expecting disappointment, but was very pleasantly surprised. Kim Darby as Mattie Ross was particularly good, but the fact that the dialog in Charles Portis' novel was retained – it is like nothing that I have heard in any other western – and that is was so well delivered by the cast made this movie a real standout.

Glen Campbell really surprised me as the Texas Ranger. This was the first time that I had seen him act, and I expected to have difficulty thinking of him as the character, and not as the singer whom I regularly saw on assorted television variety shows. I never did completely forget who he was (just as I could not look at Rooster Cogburn without thinking "John Wayne") but it it not interfere with my enjoyment.
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