True Grit

TJR review

If you want to watch a western movie, and a very good one, download “True Grit,” starring John Wayne. If you don’t like Wayne, you will after watching “True Grit.” If you think Wayne and westerns are too macho, watch a 14-year-old girl (Kim Darby) show what women’s lib really means in the 1969 classic. Listen carefully to the script, it’s a masterpiece from a Charles Portis novel.

Roger Ebert (good reviewer)

There is a moment in "True Grit" when John Wayne and four or five bad guys confront each other across a mountain meadow. The situation is quite clear: Someone will have to back up or die.

Director Henry Hathaway pulls his telephoto lens high up in the sky, and we see the meadow isolated there, dreamlike and fantastic. And then we're back down on the ground, and with a growl Wayne puts his horse's reins in his teeth, takes his rifle in one of his hands and a six-shooter in the other and charges those bad guys with all barrels blazing. As a scene, it is not meant to be taken seriously.

The night I saw a sneak preview, the audience laughed and even applauded. This was the essence of Wayne, the distillation. This was the moment when you finally realized how much Wayne had come to mean to you.

It is one of the most delightful, joyous scary movies of all time. It goes on the list with "National Velvet" and "Robin Hood" and "The African Queen" and "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" and "Gunga Din." It is not a work of art, but it wouldn't be nearly as good if it were. Instead, it is the Western you should see if you only see one Western every three years.

It is based faithfully on Charles Portis' novel, and it tells the story of Mattie Ross from near Dardanelle, in Yell County. She strikes a bargain with U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Wayne), who is a one-eyed, unwashed, sandpapered, roughshod, fat old rascal with a heart of gold well-covered by a hide of leather.