So once again we have survived.

Rooster Cogburn

tn_roostercogburnIn ’75, six years after John Wayne won his Oscar playing Rooster Cogburn in TRUE GRIT, they figured on bringing the character back. Not a bad idea, actually. Maybe not as good as my idea of spinning off his cat, but still, it works. He’s a marshall who goes after outlaws, obviously he’s gonna have other adventures. That’s what this is, this ROOSTER COGBURN, it’s not a stripped down drama about him getting old like ROCKY BALBOA was. (And if you’re looking at that picture thinking man, Mattie Ross got old fast, don’t worry, it’s a different character.)

This particular adventure (subtitled “(…and The Lady)” on the DVD box) starts out like an old west Dirty Harry movie. The judge is outraged by Cogburn’s unorthodox methods. He shoots too many people and isn’t good enough at kissing authority figure ass. So he gets his badge taken away. I thought it was kind of funny to have John Wayne doing this when he actually turned down DIRTY HARRY, but when I read True Grit: The Book I learned that this scene is sort of based on something that happens at the end of that book. (That doesn’t explain McQ, though.)

Of course the judge has to come crawling back to him because a gang stole some nitro glycerin for robbing a bank, and Rooster’s the only one with the skills, knowledge and balls for the case. On the trail he comes across a small church where the gang killed some people. The survivors are the preachy spinster Katherine Hepburn and a young scout who dreams of becoming the first Native American marshall. Of course Rooster reluctantly takes them with him and eventually comes to care about them.

mp_roostercogburnIt’s nice to see the character again, but there’s a little too much rehashing going on here. It bugged me that he kept talking about his “corn dodgers” again. Just because a food is mentioned in the book and first movie doesn’t mean it’s his entire diet. At least Dirty Harry got to eat different foods each time he was foiling a crime while eating.

And of course Rooster’s personality collides with Hepburn’s like it did with young Mattie Ross in the first one. She’s very capable, including with guns, which impresses the hell out of Rooster. That’s another way it resembles a Dirty Harry movie (specifically THE ENFORCER): Rooster makes all these sexist comments but with his actions shows that he accepts her as a strong woman, in fact seems attracted to her. It’s kind of nice to see two old people falling for each other in a movie. You don’t see that every day.

And by the way, she can dish it out faster than he can eat it. She insults him constantly. It turns out he has very poor personal hygiene, and she’s criticizes him for this repeatedly, although she doesn’t go as far as saying “You smell like ass.” They’re a pretty funny duo.

This is the only movie that Wayne and Hepburn ever did together. It’s also one of the very few movies where Hepburn fires a gatling gun, although in real life it was her trademark (source: none).

Incidentally, Hepburn’s very religious character is named Eula Goodnight, so I think she might be an ancestor to SEE NO EVIL‘s religious fundamentalist psychopath/eyeball collector Jacob Goodnight.

Also, Rooster’s fatherly bond with the kid shows a kind of racial acceptance not usually associated with the Duke. He doesn’t care at all that the kid is Indian. He’s down with the Indians. Wayne only did one more movie after this (THE SHOOTIST) but I bet if he stuck around a couple more years he would’ve been hanging out with black militants and shit. It would’ve been awesome. You would’ve been surprised.

Yeah, it’s an unnecessary sequel, and it’s not as good as the first one. But I gotta admit I enjoyed watching it anyway. In fact I wouldn’t have minded more Rooster Cogburn adventures. They coulda done a whole series where he always has to travel with somebody he doesn’t want to. A black man, a gay guy, a grumpy samurai, an orangutan, etc. They never did that, but there was a pilot-turned-TV-movie where Warren Oates played Rooster and Lisa Pelikan from LIONHEART played Mattie Ross. Anybody ever see that one?

I think it would also be interesting if other Best Actors pulled a ROOSTER COGBURN and sequelized their award winning performances. We could have Daniel Day-Lewis in DANIEL PLAINVIEW, Forest Whitaker in IDI AMIN, Nicolas Cage in BEN SANDERSON, or who knows what kind of other adventures Dustin Hoffman’s character from KRAMER VS. KRAMER could have in TED KRAMER. I guess Anthony Hopkins already did HANNIBAL, so it’s not unheard of.

Well, that’s about it. But here is a little overview of the character Rooster Cogburn, which I link to only because I was so impressed by the theme of the websight it comes from.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, April 12th, 2010 at 11:59 am and is filed under Reviews, Western. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

29 Responses to “Rooster Cogburn”

  1. Daniel Plainview:Port of Call New Orleans

  2. Dirk Diggler: Electric Boogaloo

  3. I was thinking about these sequel titles this morning, and wondering when Hollywood started using numerals to denote sequels rather than a play on a the original title or just using a character’s name (two others that come to mind – Sidney Poitier in They Call me Mr Tibbs! and Burt Reynolds in Gator/White Lightning – can’t remember which way round they went, Gator might have been first).

    Anyway, the earliest I could think of were The Godfather sequels (although by calling it Part II you could argue it wasn’t necessarily a sequel). Other than that, there’s Rocky 2 and Jaws 2. Anyone think of any earlier examples?

  4. I think I heard somewhere that The Godfather Part 2 was the first Part 2. That was okay though because it’s not like it was supposed to be The Godfather or anything.

    Gator was the sequel to White Lightning, so the theory still holds. Also, Rambo: First Blood Part II.

  5. All this John Wayne talk now has me really hoping that if the PREACHER movie gets made, it includes the imaginary John Wayne character.

  6. Stu – They better keep The Duke’s cigarette lighter motto: “Fuck Communism.”

  7. I really, really, really hope they don’t make Preacher a movie. I’m up to Vol. 6, and I know exactly two things for sure: 1) It’s awesome 2) It’s not a movie in any way shape or form.

  8. Brendan – jinx! I’m half way through Vol. 6 as well. With the constant on/off talk of adapting it for the screen i’ve had that thought in the back of my mind whilst reading it, how you could compress it, turn it into a 3 hour film. But it really isn’t possible, the story just does not fit into a 3 act story structure, even cutting out aspects that could be considered unnecessary, but even then, why would you want to cut out good stuff?

  9. Between Preacher, Cowboys Vs. Aliens and AMC picking up Walking Dead for a new series there seems to be new wave of western/sci-fi/horror projects getting some serious attention. It took long enough for people to forget about Wild Wild West I guess.

  10. I could MAYBE see Preacher being a TV show on HBO or AMC or something else, but I honestly don’t think that there’d be much point in something like a 9 season panel-by-panel adaptation. Leave it a comic, leave it alone.

  11. I wouldn’t expect Preacher to be conceived as a one movie thing. I think maybe they could briefly cover Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy meeting, having a run in with the Saint, then have the Grail kidnapping Cassidy thinking he’s Jesse, and Jesse’s rescue of him from Masada/The Saint’s slaughter in one movie, which feels like enough of a story in itself, while also setting up a sequel. Some things would have to be changed around though to make it fit, like for instance, Jesse could only find out about God taking off from talking to the Angel at Masada, not knowing about it up till that point, giving us the cool sequel hook/cliffhanger of “I’m going to find God”, rather than having him deciding that earlier in the movie. Preacher as a movie franchise would just have to stick to the really big stories from the series, but keep to the same tone/spirit of the comic.

  12. Stu- But I don’t think that’d work. I think that’s setting us up for a Golden Compass or an Eragon, where a series spends the whole first movie setting things up, then ending right when things start cooking, robbing the audience of a complete experience.

  13. I spent the entire running time of RAY waiting to see Jamie Foxx do the Diet Pepsi commercial, and I got screwed. Here’s hoping he’ll fix that with CHARLES.

    I also labored for minutes on end trying to come up with a Claus von Bulow joke, but it turns out there have already been FIVE sequels to REVERSAL OF FORTUNE! (source: none)

  14. They tried to do Preacher on HBO. It fell through, and thank goodness because it was being helmed by the Grumpy Old Men guys. Really. I totally agree it should stay a comic.

    I do think AMC’s Walking Dead will be cool though, it seems much easier to translate.

    They should go back to this character name thing for all sequels from here on out: Tony Stark, Megatron, Blue Chick, etc.

  15. Am I the only one bothered that Eula Goodnight, who seemed very principled, wound up being related to such a piece of filth as psychopath Jacob Goodnight? I wonder what that says about society. Here we have a lady who stands for good, and generations later her descendants have become evil. Taken together, the two movies form a sort of American tragedy. I sincerely hope the third film in the trilogy ends on an uplifting note.

  16. If they ever do make a Preacher movie it will probably be about a brooding Vampire priest/assassin named Jesse who is vaguely involved with some religious tomfoolery. Olga Kurylenko will play Tulip.

    I like John Wayne but I wonder who the neocons would pretend to be if he were never around?

  17. I don’t think a Preacher movie would work for the basic reason that I don’t most Americans would take too kindly to a movie where some guy kills God, remember how The Golden Compass bombed?

  18. I agree Griff,

    and that whole part about the Grail and the Jesus Blood line wouldn’t fit to good into american mass media either, i guess.

  19. Didnt The Duke have a father son relationship with his indian scout Blue Boy in The Undefeated?

    Happy Birthday Ron Pearlman1

    Cheers!

  20. man, john wayne and katherine hepburn is a team-up i would like to see. it’s seems like a similar kind of combo/set up as THE AFRICAN QUEEN (though i’m guessing not as great as that movie). they’re the ORIGINAL odd couple!!!!

    speaking of COWBOYS AND ALIENS, so robert downey jr. dropped out of it, and then daniel craig got cast… is craig replacing RDJ??? that’s weird.

    the WALL STREET sequel should be called GORDON GEKKO, or maybe just GEKKO! (with the exclamation point). also, f. murray abraham could get his career going again with SALIERI. and, coming in 2012, adrien brody is… WLADISLAW SZPILMAN!!!!!!

  21. Jareth Cutestory

    April 13th, 2010 at 7:14 am

    More people that I want to see Rooster Cogburn travel with:

    Charles Grodin
    Joe Pesci
    Whitney Houston
    Vincent Gallo
    A muppet
    Roy Munson
    William Sadler as Death

  22. Grim Grinning Chris

    April 13th, 2010 at 9:40 am

    EDC… I came here specifically to see if anyone had posted that. And also to see if there was a review of Con Air in the archives (ain’t finding it) since I watched it last night for the first time in about 10 years last night.

  23. That’s pretty crazy, and doesn’t really sound true at all. I know there have been some dodgy claims about Seagal and the ladies in the past, but her story sounds way too excessive. I mean, he has two russian girls kept in his office for sex 24/7 and he just shows these girls off to the new member of staff on her first day? Even if the first crazy part was true, the idea that he wouldn’t keep something like that under wraps is pretty unbelievable.

  24. grim, you have a fine taste in movies. that was my first bluray dvd. danny trejo’s face is like a marble davinci masterpiece, if he had parkinsons.

    as for segal, I’m sure he was just trying to help the ladies find thier buddha nature.

  25. Grim Grinning Chris

    April 13th, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    EDC… It’s a big goofy mess… but filled with so much MEGA-ACTING (not just from Cage… but from Malkovich, MC Gainey, Trejo and Meaney too) that it just rocked me sideways.

  26. I watched Con Air again too a few weeks ago. I forgot Dave Chapelle was in it, playing himself.

  27. I watched Con Air last week for the first time in years too. There must be something in the air. I always thought it was a lot funnier than people gave it credit for. I suspect Cage added some of the humour, that stuff at the start when he’s in his cell and he’s learning origami and spanish and doing upside-press ups while narrating life lessons to his kid cracks me up. It should be the heavyweight championship of mega-acting between Malkovich and Cage, but Cage wisely dead-pans a lot of his lines (which makes them funnier – “Hi Garland”) while Malkovich goes for the mega-acting win in those close-ups where he’s snarling threats “the next thing you’ll see are the flies buzzing over your corpse” etc.

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