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True Grit, Done Right

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December 27, 2010

True Grit, Done Right

By David E. Petzal

By David E. Petzal

Charles Portis’ novel, True Grit, appeared in 1968, and before a year had passed there was a movie of it starring John Wayne. The film, in which John Wayne played himself and got an Oscar for it, was a sort of comedy with gunfire, and had little to do with the novel, which was grim, sad, and filled with gallows humor.

The first True Grit had pretty scenery, Glen Campbell singing a dopey theme song, and sanitized violence. In TG II, there is no pretty scenery. Everyone is ragged, crazy, and homicidal. An unrecognizable Jeff Bridges plays U.S. Marshall Reuben Cogburn, and is so good that he makes you forget John Wayne. The rest of the major-league cast is equally terrific, and the 14-year-old actress Hailee Steinfeld, who plays Matty Ross, is a marvel. She is vengeful, humorless, and self-righteous. The Coen brothers have kept much of the book’s dialog, and more important, its downbeat ending. The gunplay is impeccable, and there is plenty of it.

But credit where credit is due: At the end, Bridges’ reading of Rooster Cogburn’s immortal line: “Then fill your hand, you son of a bitch,” does not come up to Wayne’s. That belongs to the Duke forever.

Even if you’re not a moviegoer, see this one.

Comments (73)

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from Dotcomaphobe wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Glad to hear a good review of this one. I've been looking forward to seeing it.

DEP, you really need to do more movie reviews! I was thinking about this last night, as I watched the abominable remake of "The Wolfman" on DVD. There was a scene in which the Sikh servant was cleaning his firearms and the main character noticed the silver bullets on the table. They were each as large as a cigar. Don't know how anyone's shoulder would stand up to such abuse, but that's the movies for you.

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from rock rat wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Thanks, I will.

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from J4huntfish wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

That's good my father and I were gonna see it tomorrow, thx Dave you really should do more movie reviews

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from tirdypointbuck wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I like the first true grit with John Wayne, I'm hoping to see this one.

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from gsuperna wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Bridges is alright but the movie True Grit belonges to John Wayne!

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from Douglas wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Great review! Perhaps you could moonlight writing cinema reviews for the New Yorker mag.

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from Happy Myles wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

It opened here last Wednesday and my Daughter and I attended the first showing at noon. I feel like a traitor, but feel it was better than the original. When Jeff snarled fill your hand and started to ride it put a chill in my spine and brought a tear to my eye on behave of the "Duke".

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from Happy Myles wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

That should have read behalf of, behave

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from WVOtter wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Glad to hear it's good, although it's hard to believe it wouldn't be...the Coen Brothers are brilliant...Big Lebowski, Fargo, No Country for Old Men, Oh Brother Where Art Though...you just can't go wrong with the guys.

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from Dcast wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I will see on your recommendations, because I know your more manly than Siskel and Ebert and wouldn't lead your fellow men on, with 2 thumbs up for trash like Chicago or the Titanic!

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from buckhunter wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I imagine in 1968-69 America was not looking for a serious movie.

I had no intention of seeing the most recent version but you have peaked my interest more so to read the book than watch TG II.

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from 007 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

All goes well, my wife and I will see it on the 2nd. I can't wait!! Wonder if the theatre would allow my big western hat and a Ruger Blackhawk, unloaded of course? The story around here goes that an older fellow went to see a western when movies first became available. When the outlaw was preparing to shoot the hero, this old fellow jumped up and shouted "Watch your back, boy!", and shot the outlaw on the movie screen. I'd be careful not to got that far. haha. Man, I just can't wait!!!!

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from Happy Myles wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Buck,
The book is excellent, quite short. In fact, in the amount of time spent driving to and from the theater, parking and watching the movie and all the previews, you can read most of the book. As long as you are not eating popcorn while reading.

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from davidpetzal wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

To Douglas: By creepy coincidence, the theater reviews for the New Yorker have, for many years, been written by a high school classmate of mine, John Lahr.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I wonder if the sound effects is as good as Quigley's Long Range Sharps 1874 Model Rifle

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from iron giant wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Thanks for bringing to my attention that there is a book. I'll have to read it sometime.

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from cbanks wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Respectfully differ, Mr. Nut. I saw the two movies a night apart (Wayne's for the umpteenth time). The two flicks are different, all right, and the Coen model less of a vehicle for Bridges than the original was for Wayne. The Coens' direction is first-rate, if artsy; the smoky courtroom scene is a masterpiece.
But the original cast is better--Wayne put an unforgettable stamp on Rooster, Kim Darby was a better Mattie (even tho her subsequent career went nowhere), and Robert Duvall was a believable Ned Pepper. Who could have intoned better, "I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man!" Brolin is a forgettable LeBoef--Campbell was dandier, if maybe a little more one-dimensional (his hair was better).
The original's unforgettable screenplay was by Maggie Roberts, whose later career also went nowhere, despite much uncredited work after she was blacklisted.

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from Happy Myles wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

cbanks,
Excellent comments. Might point out, I think Matt Damon played LeBoef, not Brolin. Which might indicate Brolin was somewhat weak in his real role.

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from davidpetzal wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

To C Banks: We could, of course, debate this endlessly, and it would accomplish nothing, so here's an unrelated question: If the Coen brothers announced that they next film they were going to re-make was The Searchers, who should they cast in the John Wayne role of Ethan Edwards?

That should pop all the blood vessels in your pre-frontal lobes.

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from Jere Smith wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I do not EVER willingly watch remakes, that just don't ever seem to be as good as the originals JMNSVHO.

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from Happy Myles wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Mr Petzal,
Touche, and again touche, regarding a redo of the Searchers

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from Jim in Mo wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I saw the trailers on tv and it looked like bad acting, but I went with the hype. I saw the movie and I stood corrected, it was really really bad acting. Jeff Bridges did what I or you could do, act like someone but still be Jeff Bridges. Mat Damon had no place in that movie. That's the difference. He was no Robert De Niro in 'Raging Bull' nor were any of the cast. Bullywood spent lots of money bs-ing us on this one.
Sorry, I felt cheated. JMO

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from Phil1227 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

glad to see good reviews Ive been wanting to go see it.

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from Carney wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Haven't seen the movie yet but I'll look forward to it! I'm happy to have a chance to say that Matt Damon is an EXCELLENT actor. He should stick that, seeing as how he is a political idiot and foolish cultural commentator.

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from Peter Campbell wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Regardless of what anyone says, Jeff Bridges is not, nor will ever be, John Wayne.

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from Nathan Pinney wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

The only actors that I could think of that could play a John Wayne role are Scott Glen or Sam Elliott.Most of the actors of today, just don't have the persona or just not sure how to describe it. They just appear weak in this type of role. More of a dandy, would not be believable that they could survive in a western or the real west.

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from kudukid wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

"In TG II, there is no pretty scenery. Everyone is ragged, crazy, and homicidal."

This world already has enough real violence - just watch some of the "childrens" wizardry movies or the evening news.

John Wayne is an American icon and it seems no more of his ilk are to be had since Jimmy Stewart and Charlton Heston went to their rewards.

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from FirstBubba wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Scott Glenn's pock scarred face is better for "bad guy" roles, ala "Urban Cowboy", than a good guy.
Elliott? That gravely voice and industrial strength mustache would have made an impeccable Rooster Cogburn!! I can hear him now, growling, "FILL yer hand...."!
Why is it NOBODY mentioned the MOVIE, "Rooster Cogburn" with Warren Oates? If I'm not mistaken, it WAS the ORIGINAL movie, but Oates did it NO justice, other than probably playing the "greasy, nasty, dirty, disheveled" portion of the Rooster role better than ANY street dweller EVER could have!!! LOL!!!

Bubba
P.S. - It's just entertainment!!!!

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from jamesti wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

thanks, DEP. i plan on seeing it and deciding for myself.

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from Mark-1 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Haven't seen True Grit:II, yet. Jeff Bridges played a good Wild Bill. I thought Matt Damon was good in "Geronimo". Waiting to see them and the supporting cast in this flick.

Searchers ReDux: I can think of several actors to do "Ethan Edwards", but all of them are Brits or Aussies.

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from davidpetzal wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

To Mark-1. I hadn't thought of Aussies of Brits, but I think Russell Crowe could hack it.

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from buckhunter wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I do not believe John Wayne can be duplicated. Any man that tries will only make a fool of himself. Sort of like an Elvis impersonator.

Russell Crow? Really?

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from Jere Smith wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Just like there is not a real "Jack Ryan", there is no Replacement for "Duke" !

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from 007 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I too liked the Duke, have a lot of his westerns, but I personally want to try and watch it and not compare Bridges to Wayne if possible. I know, hard to do, Pierce Brosnan will always be James Bond, no matter what I see him in, but I want to give this movie a fair chance, if I can.

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from azduane wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I saw the movie yesterday and really enjoyed it. It is not the same as the John Wayne movie and shouldn't be looked at as that. They are different and both enjoyable on their own. For 007 - Pierce Brosnan is NOT James Bond, Sean Connery is and always will be the best James Bond. Pierce is okay but Connery personified Jaes Bond unlike any of the others.

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from 007 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Azduane, you are exactly right, Connery was, is, and always will be Bond in the flesh. Brosnan was just the first one that popped in my mind for the conversation. Connery, Brosnan, Craig, Moore, Lazenby, in that order.

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from cbanks wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Dave: I don't understand your suggestion that 'endless debate' 'accomplishes nothing'! That's crazy talk! Ever been trapped by weather for ten days on the AK Peninsula in a 2-man tent?

Your question about casting Ethan in a Coen remake of Ford's "The Searchers" is likewise crazy. At least, you're comparing directors of comparable standing (the real star of Ford's flick is, of course, the Monument Valley).

The problem of casting Ethan in the 21st Century is that you've got to cast a character whose fundamental flaw is his racism, his implacable hatred of the Indians. That's what keeps him going after Debbie, long after she's told him she'd prefer to remain with the Comanches. Unless the Coens' new screenplay should develop a different motivation, no modern "sensitive" leading man is going to want to play the 1956 Ethan, so your question is moot.

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from QDMGuy wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Blasphemy! "...he makes you forget John Wayne"!?!? That is impossible, preposterous and just down right crazy! But in this day and age of horrible movies i do look forward to seeing a good western again! Glad to hear that its good!

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from Teodoro wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Saw this the other night. Two comments.

One: I liked the acting in general, but thought some of the actors had problems with cadence because of the old-fashioned language.

Two: In the scene where Mattie cuts down the hanged man, she has to do so because he's been hanged by a rope that's simply tied off on a very high branch, not run over it and back to the ground. How would one get a guy up there to hang him?

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from horseman308 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

FirstBubba:
"Rooster Cogburn and the Lady" was the sequel to the original "True Grit" movie. In all honesty, I think it was much better than TG-I - better screenplay, better acting, and better casting. Katherine Hepburn is simply phenomenal and a perfect match for John Wayne - one of the few actresses of her day that could go toe-to-toe with him. Wayne should have won his oscar for that one, not TG-I. He deserves one, no doubt, but it should have come then.

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from tom warner wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I have not yet seen the remake of the film yet so cannot comment. However I certainly agree with Dave's assessment of John Waynes acting ability; he always played himself, and often not very well. Many of his films were just awful. I did enjoy True Grit years ago, but expect to like this one much better. I know that to run down Wayne is a horrible sacrilege and un-American, but hey, the guy was just an ACTOR, and never did anything particularly heroic in his life! Hey,the definition of ACTOR is a FAKE! It has always seemed to me that many of us would prefer Hollywood BS over some stab at recreating what might be reality.

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from davidpetzal wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

To CBanks: I have been stuck in a two-man tent on the Ungava Peninsula, and do not consider myself a better person for the experience. As for endless debate accomplishing nothing, I give you Congress and the United Nations, and you are welcome to them.

While your comment on Monument Valley is right on the money and surprising for a person of your limited education, I think you are completely off-base about modern directors and actors being unwilling to make the hero of a movie a racist. What John Ford could only hint at, the Coens could come right out and say. And any actor I can think of would give his soul to star in a Coen Brothers film, never mind playing a racist.

I think that John Ford himself summed up the movie best:"It is the tragedy of a loner."

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from Del in KS wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Well I just got back from the theater. Was already planning to go before DEP made his comments. The thing I remember about the original was Glen Campbell's really bad acting. One other thing was like just about all John Wayne westerns the characters are all clean shaven with clean clothes and every hair in place. I have and always will love John Wayne movies but this True Grit is WAAAAAAAAYYYYY better than the original. If you only see one movie this year go see this one. Let me predict Jeff Bridges will get another Oscar nomination. This one is up there with The Unforgiven, The Searchers, and others. That would be just great if the Coen brothers would make some more westerns if they were all this good.
BTW the only thing that looked fake was the face on that bbear. It appeared to be a modern taxidermy job.

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from Mark-1 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Actors for Ethan Edwards: for an "old" Ethan been away for long time marauding: Liam Neesen, Ed Harris,

An Ethan returning within 10-years of Civil War: Christan Bale, Russell Crowe, Jake Gyllenhaal

Ford was marvelous action director, but his backgrounds were always picture post card-ish. Most the world isn't like that.

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from Walt Smith wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I'm with Buckhunter--there's only one Rooster Cogburn in my book, but I will watch it.

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from Scott in Ohio wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Tedoro, regarding your commnent: "Two: In the scene where Mattie cuts down the hanged man, she has to do so because he's been hanged by a rope that's simply tied off on a very high branch, not run over it and back to the ground. How would one get a guy up there to hang him?"

I puzzled over the same thing. Viewed the movie yesterday and it's a winner.

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from ricefarm wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

When I saw the first trailers last summer I nearly had a heart attack at the thought of waiting until Christmas. I would not dare to venture a guess at the number of times I watched the John Wayne version but the supporting cast gave the appearance that once they paid the Duke little money was left over for a supporting cast, though it did have Strother Martin, one of my favorites. The new version, which my wife does not know I snuck out to see has a far better overall cast and a gritty, dirty feel to it. I need to see it again to get past the distraction of comparing the parts of the remake where the dialogue is the same as the first.

On a different note I have started reading Dave's recommendend "Empire of the Summer Moon" and it is excellent. Another good book I found last winter that deals with the Commanche from the perspective of children they abducted and raised is "The Captured" by Scott Zesch.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Lighten up you Siskel & Ebbert wannabes! If you go to the movies for any reason other than to be entertained, you are missing the point. If you are so loyal to John F'ing Wayne, don't go see the new movie. While I have always admired the Duke's movies and career, he was after all said and done still just an actor. Good grief...

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from FirstBubba wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

ricefarm

If there was ever a soul better suited to playing an absolute fruitcake, it had to be Strother Martin!!! LOL!!
It would have been interesting to meet him and find out how he was "out" of character!

Now guys! I don't want anybody getting upset, because I can't verify this story. It's just hear say!

The story goes, Wayne was invited to attend some sort of "military ball". He and the Mrs showed up in all their radiant glory. One of the young Naval officers in the recieveing line, made a besmirching remark about Mrs. Wayne and was promptly slapped to the floor by Mr. Wayne and the young pup dared to rise from the floor!

Never having met J. Wayne, I understand he was NOT a small man and was known to "cover every inch of ground he stood on"!
Actor or no, you have to admire a man who'll stand up for RIGHT!!

Bubba

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from shootlikeawoman wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I saw it yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn't see the original so I can't compare the two, but I was pleasantly surprised to find how much this macho, violent Western centered around the pluck and intelligence of the young girl, Matty Ross. She displays as much true grit as any of the men. Don't sneak out to see this, guys, bring your wives along. I think they will love it, too!

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from 007 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Mine wants to go along, no problem.

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from Kenneth A Erling wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

You guys...!!!! Let's all go to Namby Pamby Land...!!!

DEP- I'm rapidly becoming your fan. ...Have to pay more attention to your opinions in the future. Congratulations on agreeing with me !!

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from Sd Deatherage wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I saw it Sunday because my wife wanted to go. She had never seen the original....

Bridges is a good actor but John Wayne, he ain't. Damon was almost as bad as Campbell. The newcomer girl was better than the original Mattie.

I also preferred the original ending to the latest.....

Oh well, it only took two hours and wifey is happy so I may get to hunt & shoot more :-)

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from adams_ox wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I haven't seen the movie but hope to soon. I liked the first one & am surprised they are re-making it.

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from yogi89 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Saw the movie Sunday. I want to see it again. As Dave reviewed, Jeff Bridges made Cogburn his own. He plays a great role here. Haliee as Maddie stills the show though. If you try to compare, there is no comparison. True Grit 2010 is just a great movie where True Grit 1969 is a John Wayne movie. See it, you'll be glad you did.

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from KJ wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Saw the movie before reading this review, but you are spot-on, Dave. The remake is far better than the original movie, and far truer to the book. You didn't mention Matt Damon, but he is splendid, too. This one is worth seeing.

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from Hassan Abdul-Wahid wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Dear DEP,
Liked the review, was going to see the movie anyway, and am now very happy to have read your review and the subsequent comments. Your back and forth with Cbanks was read aloud to my wife and daughter both of whom found it as hilarious as I. Thanks again for being blunt, funny, informative and witty.

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from idahooutdoors wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Went on a man date with the buddies and seen it, worth the 70 mile drive on slick roads and the 10bucks...a good western in the theaters is rare, so go watch it....

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from idahooutdoors wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Went on a man date with the buddies and seen it, worth the 70 mile drive on slick roads and the 10bucks...a good western in the theaters is rare, so go watch it....

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

We were supposed to go with friemds tonight to see TG2, but a snow storm kept friends home and my son got stuck near the theatre, so my wife graciously volunteered me to go after him and after an hour+ getting there, he and I went to see the movie after getting his truck home. I thought it was a good movie perhaps more true to life than the JW movie. Any movie without Glen Campbell has to get the nod... I would take nothing away from the Duke at all, just a different movie with a different slant. Still just entertainment!

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from Muleynut30.06 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I went and saw the new one last night and then as soon as I got home watched the old one. While the Ned Peppers gang was better in the new one I feel as both movies where bascially the same except the endings and few other little things here and there.

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from Muleynut30.06 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Both movies are great though a must see

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from refiner77 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I bought the old original movie just before the new one was released. I also bought the book. Both movies took liberties with the stories, but both were great. I was not surprised to find that the original was filmed in and around Ouray, CO. I loved the remake and wish more of the old classic westerns would get the same treatment. As for remaking the 'searchers' i think you might be surprised that modern 'sensitive' actors would have the guts to tackle that role.

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from Beekeeper wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

So I guess Rooster didn't invite Matty at the close to "Come see a fat old man sometime..."

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from Carl Huber wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Well I guess it had to happen. Josh Brolin started out as a nice kid in Goonies went on to kill two dogs in seprate movies, only to meet his end by Roosters hand

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from Del in KS wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

WAM, You are spot on about movies being entertainment only. What other reason is there to go see one? IMNSVHO
Matt Damon was the weakest character in this movie and he wasn't all that bad. Certainly nothing like Glen Campbell. That Aussie Army hat Matt wore looked out of pplace also.
Folks might recall that up until the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns just about all Western movie characters were clean cut. Bad guys were differentiated by a mustache and or black hat. etc. Clint's movies broke new ground for realism with unkempt characters, dirty clothes, worn gear, etc. IMO that made the genre better by being more realistic. You get that and more with TG II.

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from ricefarm wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Just to cover myself, I snuck out the first time because I couldn't wait any longer and my wife was is no hurry to see it. Saw it again last night, with the wife and she thought it was great and I enjoyed it more the second time. Now I have to pull out my old VHS version of the original because she wants to see that.

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from chuck2324 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I think if they had said "based on the movie True Grit" it might have been better.I was expecting to be disappointed,but, was not.It's tough to compare a true western classic to a remake without some reservations. Under a different name,it would have been tougher to criticize either movie.Both were excellent in there own right and always will be.

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from MLH wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I had to get my parent's written permission to do a book report on True Grit. That was in the 7th grade in the early '70s. The reason? The words "Hell" and "damn" were used profanely. Teacher was surprised a copy was even in the library. I was shocked I needed permission.

Been years since I saw the original screenplay. Will rent that before seeing the new one.

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from snowflea wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

David , I have to disagree with you on this one. This movie was poorly cast, poorly acted, and just not very good. Everyone that I have talked to that has seen it agrees. Overacting, and boring. Just one movie goers opinion.

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from 007 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Wife and I saw it yesterday, we both enjoyed it. It was probably a bit more realistic than the original because as previously mentioned, all the characters in that one were pressed, clean, and fresh with perfect teeth, no dirt, sweat, worn gear, like this one. I enjoyed it, Jeff Bridges deserves any recognition he gets.

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from turkey1022 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Its All Wrong! There is not a man in Hollywood that can fill the Dukes, Boots! Hell, they even had his eye patch on the wrong eye! He totaly botched one of the best scenes in the movie, "fill your hands...." and deleated the second one, "come see a fat....." They added scenes from Rooster and the Lady, shootin corn doggers! And what the hell was the "Medicine Man" about!?
You do what you thinks best, but I think this job requires a very cruel and harsh man and you can say the Duke was a mean, old, drunkin, SOB! But if you ever say Jeff Bridges did better, I'll finish this fight! ; )

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from Warren Graumann wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Both TRUE GRITS are excellent, each in its own way.

Proves we still love a good western!

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Post a Comment

from gsuperna wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Bridges is alright but the movie True Grit belonges to John Wayne!

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from buckhunter wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I do not believe John Wayne can be duplicated. Any man that tries will only make a fool of himself. Sort of like an Elvis impersonator.

Russell Crow? Really?

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from Peter Campbell wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Regardless of what anyone says, Jeff Bridges is not, nor will ever be, John Wayne.

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from Nathan Pinney wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

The only actors that I could think of that could play a John Wayne role are Scott Glen or Sam Elliott.Most of the actors of today, just don't have the persona or just not sure how to describe it. They just appear weak in this type of role. More of a dandy, would not be believable that they could survive in a western or the real west.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I imagine in 1968-69 America was not looking for a serious movie.

I had no intention of seeing the most recent version but you have peaked my interest more so to read the book than watch TG II.

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from davidpetzal wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

To Douglas: By creepy coincidence, the theater reviews for the New Yorker have, for many years, been written by a high school classmate of mine, John Lahr.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from davidpetzal wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

To C Banks: We could, of course, debate this endlessly, and it would accomplish nothing, so here's an unrelated question: If the Coen brothers announced that they next film they were going to re-make was The Searchers, who should they cast in the John Wayne role of Ethan Edwards?

That should pop all the blood vessels in your pre-frontal lobes.

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from horseman308 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

FirstBubba:
"Rooster Cogburn and the Lady" was the sequel to the original "True Grit" movie. In all honesty, I think it was much better than TG-I - better screenplay, better acting, and better casting. Katherine Hepburn is simply phenomenal and a perfect match for John Wayne - one of the few actresses of her day that could go toe-to-toe with him. Wayne should have won his oscar for that one, not TG-I. He deserves one, no doubt, but it should have come then.

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from Del in KS wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Well I just got back from the theater. Was already planning to go before DEP made his comments. The thing I remember about the original was Glen Campbell's really bad acting. One other thing was like just about all John Wayne westerns the characters are all clean shaven with clean clothes and every hair in place. I have and always will love John Wayne movies but this True Grit is WAAAAAAAAYYYYY better than the original. If you only see one movie this year go see this one. Let me predict Jeff Bridges will get another Oscar nomination. This one is up there with The Unforgiven, The Searchers, and others. That would be just great if the Coen brothers would make some more westerns if they were all this good.
BTW the only thing that looked fake was the face on that bbear. It appeared to be a modern taxidermy job.

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from FirstBubba wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

ricefarm

If there was ever a soul better suited to playing an absolute fruitcake, it had to be Strother Martin!!! LOL!!
It would have been interesting to meet him and find out how he was "out" of character!

Now guys! I don't want anybody getting upset, because I can't verify this story. It's just hear say!

The story goes, Wayne was invited to attend some sort of "military ball". He and the Mrs showed up in all their radiant glory. One of the young Naval officers in the recieveing line, made a besmirching remark about Mrs. Wayne and was promptly slapped to the floor by Mr. Wayne and the young pup dared to rise from the floor!

Never having met J. Wayne, I understand he was NOT a small man and was known to "cover every inch of ground he stood on"!
Actor or no, you have to admire a man who'll stand up for RIGHT!!

Bubba

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from Dotcomaphobe wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Glad to hear a good review of this one. I've been looking forward to seeing it.

DEP, you really need to do more movie reviews! I was thinking about this last night, as I watched the abominable remake of "The Wolfman" on DVD. There was a scene in which the Sikh servant was cleaning his firearms and the main character noticed the silver bullets on the table. They were each as large as a cigar. Don't know how anyone's shoulder would stand up to such abuse, but that's the movies for you.

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from cbanks wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Respectfully differ, Mr. Nut. I saw the two movies a night apart (Wayne's for the umpteenth time). The two flicks are different, all right, and the Coen model less of a vehicle for Bridges than the original was for Wayne. The Coens' direction is first-rate, if artsy; the smoky courtroom scene is a masterpiece.
But the original cast is better--Wayne put an unforgettable stamp on Rooster, Kim Darby was a better Mattie (even tho her subsequent career went nowhere), and Robert Duvall was a believable Ned Pepper. Who could have intoned better, "I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man!" Brolin is a forgettable LeBoef--Campbell was dandier, if maybe a little more one-dimensional (his hair was better).
The original's unforgettable screenplay was by Maggie Roberts, whose later career also went nowhere, despite much uncredited work after she was blacklisted.

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from Happy Myles wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

cbanks,
Excellent comments. Might point out, I think Matt Damon played LeBoef, not Brolin. Which might indicate Brolin was somewhat weak in his real role.

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from Jim in Mo wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I saw the trailers on tv and it looked like bad acting, but I went with the hype. I saw the movie and I stood corrected, it was really really bad acting. Jeff Bridges did what I or you could do, act like someone but still be Jeff Bridges. Mat Damon had no place in that movie. That's the difference. He was no Robert De Niro in 'Raging Bull' nor were any of the cast. Bullywood spent lots of money bs-ing us on this one.
Sorry, I felt cheated. JMO

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from Carney wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Haven't seen the movie yet but I'll look forward to it! I'm happy to have a chance to say that Matt Damon is an EXCELLENT actor. He should stick that, seeing as how he is a political idiot and foolish cultural commentator.

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from kudukid wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

"In TG II, there is no pretty scenery. Everyone is ragged, crazy, and homicidal."

This world already has enough real violence - just watch some of the "childrens" wizardry movies or the evening news.

John Wayne is an American icon and it seems no more of his ilk are to be had since Jimmy Stewart and Charlton Heston went to their rewards.

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from FirstBubba wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Scott Glenn's pock scarred face is better for "bad guy" roles, ala "Urban Cowboy", than a good guy.
Elliott? That gravely voice and industrial strength mustache would have made an impeccable Rooster Cogburn!! I can hear him now, growling, "FILL yer hand...."!
Why is it NOBODY mentioned the MOVIE, "Rooster Cogburn" with Warren Oates? If I'm not mistaken, it WAS the ORIGINAL movie, but Oates did it NO justice, other than probably playing the "greasy, nasty, dirty, disheveled" portion of the Rooster role better than ANY street dweller EVER could have!!! LOL!!!

Bubba
P.S. - It's just entertainment!!!!

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from jamesti wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

thanks, DEP. i plan on seeing it and deciding for myself.

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from Jere Smith wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Just like there is not a real "Jack Ryan", there is no Replacement for "Duke" !

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from Teodoro wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Saw this the other night. Two comments.

One: I liked the acting in general, but thought some of the actors had problems with cadence because of the old-fashioned language.

Two: In the scene where Mattie cuts down the hanged man, she has to do so because he's been hanged by a rope that's simply tied off on a very high branch, not run over it and back to the ground. How would one get a guy up there to hang him?

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from ricefarm wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

When I saw the first trailers last summer I nearly had a heart attack at the thought of waiting until Christmas. I would not dare to venture a guess at the number of times I watched the John Wayne version but the supporting cast gave the appearance that once they paid the Duke little money was left over for a supporting cast, though it did have Strother Martin, one of my favorites. The new version, which my wife does not know I snuck out to see has a far better overall cast and a gritty, dirty feel to it. I need to see it again to get past the distraction of comparing the parts of the remake where the dialogue is the same as the first.

On a different note I have started reading Dave's recommendend "Empire of the Summer Moon" and it is excellent. Another good book I found last winter that deals with the Commanche from the perspective of children they abducted and raised is "The Captured" by Scott Zesch.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Lighten up you Siskel & Ebbert wannabes! If you go to the movies for any reason other than to be entertained, you are missing the point. If you are so loyal to John F'ing Wayne, don't go see the new movie. While I have always admired the Duke's movies and career, he was after all said and done still just an actor. Good grief...

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from yogi89 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Saw the movie Sunday. I want to see it again. As Dave reviewed, Jeff Bridges made Cogburn his own. He plays a great role here. Haliee as Maddie stills the show though. If you try to compare, there is no comparison. True Grit 2010 is just a great movie where True Grit 1969 is a John Wayne movie. See it, you'll be glad you did.

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from KJ wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Saw the movie before reading this review, but you are spot-on, Dave. The remake is far better than the original movie, and far truer to the book. You didn't mention Matt Damon, but he is splendid, too. This one is worth seeing.

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from Douglas wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Great review! Perhaps you could moonlight writing cinema reviews for the New Yorker mag.

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from Dcast wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I will see on your recommendations, because I know your more manly than Siskel and Ebert and wouldn't lead your fellow men on, with 2 thumbs up for trash like Chicago or the Titanic!

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from 007 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

All goes well, my wife and I will see it on the 2nd. I can't wait!! Wonder if the theatre would allow my big western hat and a Ruger Blackhawk, unloaded of course? The story around here goes that an older fellow went to see a western when movies first became available. When the outlaw was preparing to shoot the hero, this old fellow jumped up and shouted "Watch your back, boy!", and shot the outlaw on the movie screen. I'd be careful not to got that far. haha. Man, I just can't wait!!!!

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from Happy Myles wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Buck,
The book is excellent, quite short. In fact, in the amount of time spent driving to and from the theater, parking and watching the movie and all the previews, you can read most of the book. As long as you are not eating popcorn while reading.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I wonder if the sound effects is as good as Quigley's Long Range Sharps 1874 Model Rifle

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from iron giant wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Thanks for bringing to my attention that there is a book. I'll have to read it sometime.

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from Jere Smith wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I do not EVER willingly watch remakes, that just don't ever seem to be as good as the originals JMNSVHO.

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from Happy Myles wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Mr Petzal,
Touche, and again touche, regarding a redo of the Searchers

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from Phil1227 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

glad to see good reviews Ive been wanting to go see it.

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from Mark-1 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Haven't seen True Grit:II, yet. Jeff Bridges played a good Wild Bill. I thought Matt Damon was good in "Geronimo". Waiting to see them and the supporting cast in this flick.

Searchers ReDux: I can think of several actors to do "Ethan Edwards", but all of them are Brits or Aussies.

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from davidpetzal wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

To Mark-1. I hadn't thought of Aussies of Brits, but I think Russell Crowe could hack it.

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from 007 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I too liked the Duke, have a lot of his westerns, but I personally want to try and watch it and not compare Bridges to Wayne if possible. I know, hard to do, Pierce Brosnan will always be James Bond, no matter what I see him in, but I want to give this movie a fair chance, if I can.

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from azduane wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I saw the movie yesterday and really enjoyed it. It is not the same as the John Wayne movie and shouldn't be looked at as that. They are different and both enjoyable on their own. For 007 - Pierce Brosnan is NOT James Bond, Sean Connery is and always will be the best James Bond. Pierce is okay but Connery personified Jaes Bond unlike any of the others.

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from 007 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Azduane, you are exactly right, Connery was, is, and always will be Bond in the flesh. Brosnan was just the first one that popped in my mind for the conversation. Connery, Brosnan, Craig, Moore, Lazenby, in that order.

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from cbanks wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Dave: I don't understand your suggestion that 'endless debate' 'accomplishes nothing'! That's crazy talk! Ever been trapped by weather for ten days on the AK Peninsula in a 2-man tent?

Your question about casting Ethan in a Coen remake of Ford's "The Searchers" is likewise crazy. At least, you're comparing directors of comparable standing (the real star of Ford's flick is, of course, the Monument Valley).

The problem of casting Ethan in the 21st Century is that you've got to cast a character whose fundamental flaw is his racism, his implacable hatred of the Indians. That's what keeps him going after Debbie, long after she's told him she'd prefer to remain with the Comanches. Unless the Coens' new screenplay should develop a different motivation, no modern "sensitive" leading man is going to want to play the 1956 Ethan, so your question is moot.

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from QDMGuy wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Blasphemy! "...he makes you forget John Wayne"!?!? That is impossible, preposterous and just down right crazy! But in this day and age of horrible movies i do look forward to seeing a good western again! Glad to hear that its good!

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from Mark-1 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Actors for Ethan Edwards: for an "old" Ethan been away for long time marauding: Liam Neesen, Ed Harris,

An Ethan returning within 10-years of Civil War: Christan Bale, Russell Crowe, Jake Gyllenhaal

Ford was marvelous action director, but his backgrounds were always picture post card-ish. Most the world isn't like that.

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from shootlikeawoman wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I saw it yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn't see the original so I can't compare the two, but I was pleasantly surprised to find how much this macho, violent Western centered around the pluck and intelligence of the young girl, Matty Ross. She displays as much true grit as any of the men. Don't sneak out to see this, guys, bring your wives along. I think they will love it, too!

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from 007 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Mine wants to go along, no problem.

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from Kenneth A Erling wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

You guys...!!!! Let's all go to Namby Pamby Land...!!!

DEP- I'm rapidly becoming your fan. ...Have to pay more attention to your opinions in the future. Congratulations on agreeing with me !!

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from Sd Deatherage wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I saw it Sunday because my wife wanted to go. She had never seen the original....

Bridges is a good actor but John Wayne, he ain't. Damon was almost as bad as Campbell. The newcomer girl was better than the original Mattie.

I also preferred the original ending to the latest.....

Oh well, it only took two hours and wifey is happy so I may get to hunt & shoot more :-)

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from adams_ox wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I haven't seen the movie but hope to soon. I liked the first one & am surprised they are re-making it.

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from Hassan Abdul-Wahid wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Dear DEP,
Liked the review, was going to see the movie anyway, and am now very happy to have read your review and the subsequent comments. Your back and forth with Cbanks was read aloud to my wife and daughter both of whom found it as hilarious as I. Thanks again for being blunt, funny, informative and witty.

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from idahooutdoors wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Went on a man date with the buddies and seen it, worth the 70 mile drive on slick roads and the 10bucks...a good western in the theaters is rare, so go watch it....

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from idahooutdoors wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Went on a man date with the buddies and seen it, worth the 70 mile drive on slick roads and the 10bucks...a good western in the theaters is rare, so go watch it....

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

We were supposed to go with friemds tonight to see TG2, but a snow storm kept friends home and my son got stuck near the theatre, so my wife graciously volunteered me to go after him and after an hour+ getting there, he and I went to see the movie after getting his truck home. I thought it was a good movie perhaps more true to life than the JW movie. Any movie without Glen Campbell has to get the nod... I would take nothing away from the Duke at all, just a different movie with a different slant. Still just entertainment!

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from Muleynut30.06 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I went and saw the new one last night and then as soon as I got home watched the old one. While the Ned Peppers gang was better in the new one I feel as both movies where bascially the same except the endings and few other little things here and there.

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from Muleynut30.06 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Both movies are great though a must see

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from refiner77 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I bought the old original movie just before the new one was released. I also bought the book. Both movies took liberties with the stories, but both were great. I was not surprised to find that the original was filmed in and around Ouray, CO. I loved the remake and wish more of the old classic westerns would get the same treatment. As for remaking the 'searchers' i think you might be surprised that modern 'sensitive' actors would have the guts to tackle that role.

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from Beekeeper wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

So I guess Rooster didn't invite Matty at the close to "Come see a fat old man sometime..."

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from Carl Huber wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Well I guess it had to happen. Josh Brolin started out as a nice kid in Goonies went on to kill two dogs in seprate movies, only to meet his end by Roosters hand

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from Del in KS wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

WAM, You are spot on about movies being entertainment only. What other reason is there to go see one? IMNSVHO
Matt Damon was the weakest character in this movie and he wasn't all that bad. Certainly nothing like Glen Campbell. That Aussie Army hat Matt wore looked out of pplace also.
Folks might recall that up until the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns just about all Western movie characters were clean cut. Bad guys were differentiated by a mustache and or black hat. etc. Clint's movies broke new ground for realism with unkempt characters, dirty clothes, worn gear, etc. IMO that made the genre better by being more realistic. You get that and more with TG II.

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from ricefarm wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Just to cover myself, I snuck out the first time because I couldn't wait any longer and my wife was is no hurry to see it. Saw it again last night, with the wife and she thought it was great and I enjoyed it more the second time. Now I have to pull out my old VHS version of the original because she wants to see that.

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from chuck2324 wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I think if they had said "based on the movie True Grit" it might have been better.I was expecting to be disappointed,but, was not.It's tough to compare a true western classic to a remake without some reservations. Under a different name,it would have been tougher to criticize either movie.Both were excellent in there own right and always will be.

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from Warren Graumann wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Both TRUE GRITS are excellent, each in its own way.

Proves we still love a good western!

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from rock rat wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Thanks, I will.

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from J4huntfish wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

That's good my father and I were gonna see it tomorrow, thx Dave you really should do more movie reviews

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from tirdypointbuck wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I like the first true grit with John Wayne, I'm hoping to see this one.

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from Happy Myles wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

It opened here last Wednesday and my Daughter and I attended the first showing at noon. I feel like a traitor, but feel it was better than the original. When Jeff snarled fill your hand and started to ride it put a chill in my spine and brought a tear to my eye on behave of the "Duke".

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from Happy Myles wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

That should have read behalf of, behave

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from WVOtter wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Glad to hear it's good, although it's hard to believe it wouldn't be...the Coen Brothers are brilliant...Big Lebowski, Fargo, No Country for Old Men, Oh Brother Where Art Though...you just can't go wrong with the guys.

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from tom warner wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I have not yet seen the remake of the film yet so cannot comment. However I certainly agree with Dave's assessment of John Waynes acting ability; he always played himself, and often not very well. Many of his films were just awful. I did enjoy True Grit years ago, but expect to like this one much better. I know that to run down Wayne is a horrible sacrilege and un-American, but hey, the guy was just an ACTOR, and never did anything particularly heroic in his life! Hey,the definition of ACTOR is a FAKE! It has always seemed to me that many of us would prefer Hollywood BS over some stab at recreating what might be reality.

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from davidpetzal wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

To CBanks: I have been stuck in a two-man tent on the Ungava Peninsula, and do not consider myself a better person for the experience. As for endless debate accomplishing nothing, I give you Congress and the United Nations, and you are welcome to them.

While your comment on Monument Valley is right on the money and surprising for a person of your limited education, I think you are completely off-base about modern directors and actors being unwilling to make the hero of a movie a racist. What John Ford could only hint at, the Coens could come right out and say. And any actor I can think of would give his soul to star in a Coen Brothers film, never mind playing a racist.

I think that John Ford himself summed up the movie best:"It is the tragedy of a loner."

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from Walt Smith wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I'm with Buckhunter--there's only one Rooster Cogburn in my book, but I will watch it.

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from Scott in Ohio wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Tedoro, regarding your commnent: "Two: In the scene where Mattie cuts down the hanged man, she has to do so because he's been hanged by a rope that's simply tied off on a very high branch, not run over it and back to the ground. How would one get a guy up there to hang him?"

I puzzled over the same thing. Viewed the movie yesterday and it's a winner.

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from MLH wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

I had to get my parent's written permission to do a book report on True Grit. That was in the 7th grade in the early '70s. The reason? The words "Hell" and "damn" were used profanely. Teacher was surprised a copy was even in the library. I was shocked I needed permission.

Been years since I saw the original screenplay. Will rent that before seeing the new one.

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from snowflea wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

David , I have to disagree with you on this one. This movie was poorly cast, poorly acted, and just not very good. Everyone that I have talked to that has seen it agrees. Overacting, and boring. Just one movie goers opinion.

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from 007 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Wife and I saw it yesterday, we both enjoyed it. It was probably a bit more realistic than the original because as previously mentioned, all the characters in that one were pressed, clean, and fresh with perfect teeth, no dirt, sweat, worn gear, like this one. I enjoyed it, Jeff Bridges deserves any recognition he gets.

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from turkey1022 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Its All Wrong! There is not a man in Hollywood that can fill the Dukes, Boots! Hell, they even had his eye patch on the wrong eye! He totaly botched one of the best scenes in the movie, "fill your hands...." and deleated the second one, "come see a fat....." They added scenes from Rooster and the Lady, shootin corn doggers! And what the hell was the "Medicine Man" about!?
You do what you thinks best, but I think this job requires a very cruel and harsh man and you can say the Duke was a mean, old, drunkin, SOB! But if you ever say Jeff Bridges did better, I'll finish this fight! ; )

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