True Grit (1969)

I was kinda pumped the first time I saw the trailer for the Coen Brothers’ take on True Grit. I figured, though, that I oughtta give the John Wayne classic a whirl, seeing as it earned him his only Oscar, and tread the ground of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel first (I intend to read the novel next, actually).

So yeah. John Wayne, whose acting I typically find a bit tepid, was quite good in this movie. This movie with its gorgeous location shots. This movie with it’s frequently awkward editing choices. This movie with the weak-sauce supporting job by Glen Campbell.

The stand out for me in this movie, however, was the character of Mattie Ross. Mattie, played reasonably well by Kim Darby, is a strong female lead. I may have been more than a decade from nativity when this film released, but there’s still a relative dearth of wide-release movies* with female leads as competent and confident as Mattie. She’s portrayed as independent, intelligent, business-savvy, and capable of keeping up with grizzled veterans of the open range. Bold and fearless, she’s a teenager chasing down a killer without regard for her own life, but still looking out for her travel companions. I’m sure this was rare enough in ’69, but it’s a shame we don’t see more characters like hers in contemporary cinema without it being an underdressed pistol-weilding Angelina Jolie.

The movie, overall, was pretty entertaining. John Wayne’s dialog was fantastic. I really wish the directing and editing had been better executed, but it was still worth the watch.


* This inference based on the top 10 grossing films each year for the past five years.

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