Following up on last week’s review of the book, “True Grit,” (not just one of my favorite Westerns, but one of my favorite books from any genre), I thought it would be fun to take a look at the original movie.
“True Grit” was released only one year after Charles Portis’ book by the same name. Mattie Ross, a sheltered but extremely bright and self-confident 14-year-old, hires a crotchety, old, drunken U.S. Marshal, Rooster Cogburn, to help track down her father’s killer, Tom Chaney. Cogburn is said to have “true grit,” but the same can be said about Mattie. They hook up with a Texas Ranger, La Boeuf, who is tracking the same killer, and the three of them venture into Indian territory.
Cogburn and La Boeuf are forced to kill several outlaws and horse thieves, something Cogburn has been doing with regularity for years. Cogburn and La Boeuf grow to have a begrudging respect for each other and both come to love “baby sister” Mattie.
The climactic gun battle, when Cogburn stands alone in an open meadow against “Lucky” Ned Pepper and his gang, has become a Western movie icon — and with good reason. John Wayne delivers one of the great lines movie lines of all time…
Fill your hands, you son of a bitch!
With minor exceptions, the movie follows the book faithfully, including the language, which is far different and far more formal than what we’ve come to expect from the traditional Western fare. One of those exceptions is that while the book is set in Arkansas and Oklahoma, the movie is shot in stunningly beautiful Ouray, Colorado.