True Grit (1969)

True Grit (Henry Hathaway, 1969)

Famously known has the only film John Wayne has won an Oscar in his entire career, True Grit. A revenge story of a young woman (Kim Darby) who wants to kill the man responsible for the death of her father. But, she is a financial record keeper, and moreover, a woman, so she must hire a man that will track the fella with her. This man is Marshall Cogburn (John Wayne) an old bachelor living with a fat cat and an old chinese man. In their journey they will be helped by Texas ranger La Boeuf (Glenn Campbell). The revenge story is the perfect set-up for Wayne to portray a warm father figure, a role he could certainly portrays because he had two daughters in real life.

True Grit stands as a mild and funny Western with broad conservative values all along that makes the perfect John Wayne picture. It's far from being the best film with John Wayne in it, films like Rio Bravo, The Searchers, Red River, Stagecoach, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Hatari! and many more can be named as the best picture staring The Duke. But I think Henry Hathaway's True Grit is the one that best represents Wayne as a man of conservative values and the father figure he reflected. Sometimes, in many films his acting is severe and somewhat clumsy. In True Grit we see a confortable Wayne having fun and enjoying the role he is given.

Henry Hathaway's (the director) signature is sober and he gives all the frames for his charaters. This is a very conventionnal Western that tells a very convetionnal story too, but the film is made with frank and real values. It just doesn't really show the Grit I was expecting when I started watching it. My interest was influenced by the fact that the new Coens brothers picture is a reinterpretation of the original book it inspired the 1969 True Grit. It's funny but I think the Coens' version will probably satisfy my thirst of more blood and guns from this story.

However, Hathaway's True Grit is a very honest Western that stick with John Wayne's career forever has his eye patch...


  1. True Grit, the book and the movie, used a peculiar mannered English in the dialog, especially Kim Darby's speech, to signify the Old West. I wonder if the French subtitles captured some of the essence of that speech?

  2. Actually I always watch films in English without the subtitles. But my mother tongue is French as you guessed right and I am planning on reading True Grit in French unfortunately because my public library only has it in this language. I'll get back to you when I'll have the book about the peculiar mannered dialogs!


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