True Grit (1969)

True Grit (1969) — So this is the movie that won John Wayne an Academy Award for Best Actor.  There’s a pretty widely-accepted belief that it was a “career Oscar” given more for his iconic body of work rather than the merits of the specific performance (see also Al Pacino).  That may be the case but this is still one of Wayne’s best roles.  His Rooster Cogburn is kind of a bastard but the good kind of bastard, the kind you want in your corner.  The thing is this isn’t really his movie.  The movie is more about Kim Darby as Maddie Ross, a girl whose father was murdered.  She hires Cogburn to track down the son of a bitch who did it.  Also along for the ride is LaBoeuf (singer and mug shot model Glen Campbell), a Texas Ranger who is mostly useless at first but proves his worth as the film progresses.  A good story and good characters and great visuals (shot in Colorado) help elevate this film to the classic status it currently enjoys.  Chalk up another winner for the Duke.  SIDENOTE: This film has, of course, been remade.  Now normally I would roll my eyes at this because the movie comes from the Old Hollywood tradition any attempt to adapt to modern sensibilities would destroy so much of what makes it work.  HOWEVER, the people doing the remaking are the Coen Brothers, who are amazing film-makers.  Haven’t seen it yet but the early buzz suggests their True Grit ranks alongside The Maltese Falcon, The Wizard of Oz, and The Thing as a remake that surpasses its original.  Given the Coens’ track record I have no trouble believing that, but my appreciation of the original will remain undiminished.

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