Saturday, 12 February 2011

Film Review: TRUE GRIT (1969)

Director: Henry Hathaway
Running time: 128 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): PG

Genre: Drama/Western/Adventure
UK release date 28th December 1969

Watched on Sky+ Saturday 12th February 2011.


I have seen this film quite a few times over the years; it always reminds me of dull damp Sunday afternoons because that’s when it always seemed to be on. I also remember the picture quality was never great on TV back then, but now, re-vamped and digitised, it looks great. But more of my thoughts later, here’s a brief summary first (summary haters please unsaddle the horses and corral them while I write the next paragraph).

After her father, Frank, is shot dead, teenager Mattie Ross decides to seek revenge on the man that perpetrated this evil act. To this end she employs U.S. Marshall ‘Rooster’ Cogburn to help her find him in Indian Territory where, they believe, he has joined the outlaw Ned Pepper’s gang. The man in question, Tom Chaney, is also wanted by a Texas Ranger called La Boeuf, or ‘LeBeef’, as he prefers. The three of them set off, after a bit of an argument about whether Mattie should be allowed to go with them, and soon find a couple of vagabonds called Emmett Quincy and Moon. Having been shot, Moon spills the beans that Ned Pepper is coming to their location soon for fresh horses. More deaths ensue, but Pepper gets away with the unlikely trio in hot pursuit. I know there may be one or two out there that aren’t familiar with the tale, so I’ll stop there.

I had forgotten just how long this film is, at just over two hours it’s a lot of western, but pretty enjoyable nonetheless. Most of the exteriors were shot in Colorado and California and I must say it makes for a pretty spectacular backdrop for this story. For the most part the performances were excellent, particularly (of course) John Wayne as Marshall Reuben J. ‘Rooster’ Cogburn and Kim Darby as Mattie Ross. Also worthy of note were; Jeremy Slate as Emmett Quincy, Robert Duvall as Ned Pepper and Dennis Hopper as Moon. Not quite so good, performance wise, was Glen Campbell as La Boeuf (he latterly decided to stick to singing… good move).

It’s probably the best film I’ve seen starring John Wayne, but I’m sure I’ll be corrected on that point by someone. I thought it was a very well made film with some spectacular scenery. The only thing that grated slightly was the soundtrack; to me it seems a bit too dominant in the mix in places which I found a little distracting. Over all, I like this film, not only because it’s become a classic over the years, but also because it’s a good story done well, and you can’t go too far wrong when you start with a good yarn… Recommended.

My score: 7.8/10

(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
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