The Golden Age of Hollywood

Mattie, Rooster and LaBoeuf Have Got "True Grit" (2010)

U. S. Marshall "Rooster" Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) on the Trail


There's a theory that while primarily men settled the American west, it was women that civilized the new territories. If films are any evidence at all for this theory -- which most classic westerns aren't -- the Coen Brothers' remake of True Grit (2010) certainly is.

A discussion of this film broke out recently among the Classic Westerns group members at The Golden Age of Hollywood, comparing this new version to the 1969 original starring John Wayne, here's part of my contribution to the discussion.

Maybe it's a generational thing, but The Coen Brothers' 2010 True Grit is the one for me. The dialog is so crisp, the locations so real -- even the soundtrack built out of old English church hymns -- and "Leaning" as Mattie's theme -- are great. I love this movie. And I think Jeff Bridges does a fine job. But never let it be said that the Duke (John Wayne) doesn't deserve the respect that [another commenter] shows him. I think we can agree, it's one great story.

And here's another commenter, a little younger than I, who knows both the original and remake, as well as the book.

It was a fun film to see in the theater, the crowd just loved it, they were eatin' it up and it's a WESTERN by golly! I thought the dialog crackled along pretty good and you could sense people's recognition of repeated lines from the book and earlier film...The 3 leads on the trail played off each other really well -- the girl was the best thing. ... The locations were better this time. I travel the very same area of Oklahoma and Arkansas where the story is set twice a year so I know. [Another commenter noted that the film was shot in New Mexico and parts of Texas.]

Let me close by giving the film my strongest recommendation and, to paraphrase my colleague above, it's a classic modern western by golly -- a rare thing indeed.

Here's the trailer with one note: the great Johnny Cash song used in the trailer is not in the film.


(Cross-post from Gold Coast Bluenote; some members of the Classic Westerns Group have already seen this post at GCB.)

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Comment by Paco Malo on June 28, 2011 at 6:05pm
Well put Christopher. I thought of a Golden Age remake example late last night that I'm gonna mention . I don't think any classic move fan would be troubled by the fact the The Front Page (1931) was remade by Howard Hawks into His Girl Friday (1941). I've seen both films and really like them both. They are different types of comedies, but both are truly treasures.
Comment by Christopher on June 28, 2011 at 5:11pm
Since this was already a Novel first,I don't see anything wrong with a director trying his hand at it..It is a little differen't perhaps when there was a big John Wayne production before hand..But this version is extremely well done and stands on its own.
Comment by Paco Malo on June 27, 2011 at 6:58pm
I assure you that I understand that completely. You are not alone. That's one of the great things about film. There is something for everyone. Personally, I'm still exploring an entirely new world of film, working back in time with the help of TCM and GAOH.
Comment by MothGirl Wings on June 27, 2011 at 5:59pm
It saddens me that Hollywood feels compelled to remake everything - but that's just my opinion. I'm glad you enjoyed the new version, but new movies just aren't my cup of tea, honestly.
Comment by Paco Malo on June 27, 2011 at 5:55pm
Thanks for the feedback Mothgirl Wings. That's my goal in posting it here up front: to get honest views from the group of film lovers I respect the most -- the GAOH membership.
Comment by MothGirl Wings on June 27, 2011 at 5:43pm
I love Jeff Bridges, and the Coen Brothers have made some good films, but the original True Grit is a true classic, and I prefer it.  Don't think it's a generational thing, honestly - thanks for your review tho.

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