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George At 

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Featured Movie Reviews

True Grit

John Wayne won his only Oscar for his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn in 1969's classic western TRUE GRIT.

Ornery, drunk and determined, Cogburn always gets his man. He meets his match when young Mattie Ross (Kim Darby) hires him to find and kill the man who gunned down her father.

Joining their quest is Texas Ranger La Boeuf, played by Glen Campbell in his first screen role. Campbell famously said that "I've never acted before and after seeing True Grit, I think my record is still clean!" In reality, he's wooden but charming and grows on you as the film goes on.

The trio are up against some nasty characters along the way, including Robert Duvall in an early screen role as Ned Pepper and Dennis Hopper as Moon, who loses some fingers in a burst of violence that always surprises me on repeat viewings.

Director of Photography Lucien Ballard (McQueen's The Getaway, The Wild Bunch) shoots nearly the entire film on location with perfect widescreen outdoor shots.

The finale with Wayne squaring off against the bad guys in a shotgun spinning joust is a legendary blast that never lets you down.

Wayne famously said in later years that he couldn't stand Darby or Duvall, especially Duvall's method acting. It doesn't show on screen as Cogburn and Mattie bond in search of revenge.

Campbell wasn't the first choice for his role. It was first offered to Elvis Presley, who turned it down as he wanted lead billing over Wayne. Wayne also wanted Karen Carpenter to play the role of Mattie. It must have been the era of Singers becoming actors!

TRUE GRIT is a Western genre classic. Fast moving and old fashioned in all the right ways, its gets an A. It was brilliantly remade by the Coen Bros in 2010, with Jeff Bridges also winning a best actor as Rooster.

I love both versions, but they'll always be a special place in my memories for the original in all its big screen glory. Wayne's never been better.

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