Sunday, 31 March 2013

True Grit (1969)

Far more traditional and technicolour than the Coen brothers' excellent 2010 remake, this version is never the less a great western.  Not a hotel chain.  There is some glorious cinematography of amazing landscapes, a rousing if repetitive score and a great performance from John Wayne.  Even Matty Ross is really good despite reminding me of a very young Prof Brian Cox!  I really expected her to be fairly wooden in light of how brilliant Hailee Steinfeld is in the 2010 film, so I was impressed with how effortless Kim Darby's performance is. 

                                              An early still from Wonders of the Universe!

Having not been too enamoured of Wayne's performance in The Searchers, here he gives us a far more understated, and in my view a more convincing one.  Rooster Cogburn is a cantankerous US Marshall who spends half his hours drunk; who'd have thought that all-American John Wayne would have been excellent at this.  Rooster is far more of an anti-hero than John's character in The Searchers (and I imagine a lot of his other roles), which is probably why I prefer it.  Rooster is far more in the mold of The Man with No Name from Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns than John's usual American hero image.  Glen Campbell is good as Le Boeuf, and the banter between him, Rooster and Matty is sharp and witty.  The film also throws up a few cast surprises in a very young Dennis Hopper and Robert Duvall, both of who do very well in their minor roles.

Like I say, this isn't quite in the same class as the Coen brothers film, but is still a very enjoyable movie. At the heart of the film is the relationship between the three main characters.  John, Glen and Kim are great together, and it is their quick, witty interaction that drives the film, making it a cut above similar westerns.