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John Wayne Hunts a Killer in True Grit (1969)

Jan 14, 2011
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Well done, entertaining movie.  Good cast.

Cons:Snake.  

The Bottom Line: True Grit (1969) has held up very well and is still well worth watching.


I've known about True Grit (1969) for many years and I probably saw it at some point when I was younger, but I can't remember for sure.  In more recent years, I didn't make an effort to watch it.  I was very interested in seeing True Grit (2010) after seeing the previews and I started thinking about watching the 1969 version as well.  I did finally watch it, though it wasn't until after I had seen the new version.

When her father is murdered, Mattie Ross decides to try to deal with things herself.  She wants to make sure that Tom Chaney pays for what he did.  She decides to get marshal Rooster Cogburn to go after Chaney.  Rooster isn't interested at first, but Mattie is insistent, so he agrees to the job.  Texas Ranger La Boeuf turns up, also after Chaney.  The three end up working together even though Mattie is determined for Chaney to be punished for killing her father and not his other crimes.  The three of them clash at times and have to face dangerous situations while trying to find Chaney.

True Grit (1969) is based on the book of the same name by Charles Portis.  The 2010 version of the movie is also based on the book.  I did recently read the book.  The movie stays fairly close to the book, though it doesn't have the same sort of bleak feel that the book has at times.  The 2010 version of the movie does have that feel.  Things connected to the ending are changed a lot for the 1969 movie.  The ending from the book, while not as up beat, does seem to fit the story more.  
The plot for True Grit is straightforward even though a few complications pop up now and then.  I really wasn't surprised by anything, but I watched the movie soon after seeing the new version.  People who haven't seen the newer version or read the book may feel like the movie has more surprises.  There is a bit of suspense to a few scenes without the movie being that suspenseful overall.  

A few scenes in True Grit have a bit of action in them, usually through the few gunfights that occur.  The violence is fairly mild overall, though something happens in one scene that is slightly more graphic.  At one point, at least one rattlesnake turns up.  I think there was only one, but I don't know for sure since I had to look away during that part.  I really could have done without the snake showing up.  A good amount of humor does turn up throughout the movie through things that characters say or do.  Rooster does add a good amount of the humor, especially when he is drunk.  The movie really isn't a comedy overall, but there are several funny moments in it.

True Grit has the same main characters as the book and the 2010 movie, though Mattie doesn't seem to be utilized as well.  A few things tied to her are left out of this version.  She is still a strong, determined character, though I like her in the 2010 movie better.  Kim Darby is fine in the part.  Glen Campbell does well as La Boeuf.  He and Rooster don't always see eye to eye, but they manage to work together.  

Rooster Cogburn is a marshal who is quick to shoot and ask questions later.  He does seem more likely to shoot whoever he is after instead of bringing them back alive.  He spends a lot of time drunk, which does interfere with his job every so often.  He is definitely an interesting character.  John Wayne does fine with the part.  Robert Duvall turns up in a few scenes as Ned Pepper, another criminal that Rooster is interested in.  Dennis Hopper turns up in a small part.  Tom Chaney is the main villain even though he isn't shown that much.  Jeff Corey does fine with the part.

Main Cast

Glen Campbell - La Boeuf
Jeff Corey - Tom Chaney
Kim Darby - Mattie Ross
Robert Duvall - Ned Pepper
John Wayne - Rooster Cogburn

Henry Hathaway - Director

True Grit has been released on DVD a few different times.  I watched the copy that my mother and stepfather own.  It doesn't have any extras.  I'm not sure if other DVD versions have any extras or not.  The movie was recently released on Blu-ray and I know there were some extras on that version, though I can't remember what they were now.

True Grit is a well done, entertaining movie that has held up well.  I like both versions of the movie, but I think I like the 2010 version a little more.  That is probably mostly because I like Mattie better in that version.  People who like westerns should definitely give this one a chance.

True Grit (Book) ~ True Grit (2010) ~


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