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Posts Tagged ‘Charles Portis’

True Grit (2010)

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

tn_truegrit2010Jeff Bridges makes a great Rooster Cogburn – weird froggy voice, sloppy beard, aura of laziness, legitimately kind of disgusting as he’s introduced taking a shit and later casually pisses himself. If you don’t know the character from the novel by Charles Portis, or from John Wayne’s Academy Award winning portrayal in the 1969 version, or from the considerably less Academy Award winning sequel, or perhaps Warren Oates in the TV movie version, or obviously the episode of Scooby-Doo where Rooster has to figure out which Harlem Globetrotter has been replaced by an evil Moon-man, then let me fill you in: Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn is an eccentric, one-eyed civil war vet turned U.S. Marshall who “really knows how to pull a cork” and has a reputation for unnecessary but high quality shootings of suspects. So he’s the bounty hunter of choice for 14-year-old Mattie Ross, who wants to “finish [her] father’s affairs” by chasing down the drunken ranch hand who killed him and fled into Chocktaw territory with the Lucky Ned Pepper gang.
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Rooster Cogburn

Monday, April 12th, 2010

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. (read the rest of this shit…)

True Grit

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

tn_truegritThis movie’s gettin a squeeze of the ol’ limelight again on account of the Minnesota Coens are doing another version of the same book.

In this first version John Wayne plays U.S. Marshall Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn, who everybody talks about as a mean old bastard but let’s be honest, he’s really a lovably eccentric curmudgeon. I mean even if he says no at first it doesn’t take a whole lot to convince him to go on a bounty hunt with a 15 year old rich girl. And then he doesn’t rob her or slap her around or anything. In fact the big turning point in the story is when the Texas Ranger who’s going along tries to spank the girl with a switch, Rooster decides to put his foot down and enforce an anti-spanking policy.

I see plenty of room for Coen humor here with Mattie Ross, the spanking victim in question who hires Rooster to catch her father’s killer. She has a Barton Fink sense of entitlement (“My family owns property and I want to know why I’m being treated this way!”) and her repitition of the word “grit” (“I’m looking for someone with grit,” “I hear he has grit?” “Is this what you in Fort Smith call grit? Back in Yell County we have a different word for it,” etc.) would be right at home in any Coens movie. (read the rest of this shit…)