One of my all-time favorite books is the 1968 novel “True Grit” by Charles Portis, and I also loved the 2010 motion picture version of this classic Western novel. However, it had always sort of irked me that I’d never watched the original 1969 “True Grit” movie, which is why I put it on my “bucket list” several years ago. Yesterday, I officially scratched this movie off my list when my son and I took a couple of hours to watch it for ourselves.
For those of you unfamiliar with the “True Grit” novel and movies, they are about a young girl named Mattie Ross, who vows to bring her father’s killer to justice. She employs an old, troublesome Federal marshal named Rooster Cogburn to aid in the killer’s capture, and the girl and the wily old marshal make for the quintessential odd couple. Throw in a cast of unusual supporting characters, humorous turns of phrase and lots of action and you have a novel and a pair of movies that are highly entertaining.
The 1969 motion picture version of “True Grit” was directed by Henry Hathaway and was released in theatres on June 11, 1969. John Wayne played Rooster Cogburn, and Kim Darby played Mattie Ross. Other cast members included Glen Campbell, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper and Wilford Brimley.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Robert Duvall in this movie, playing the villain Ned Pepper. From the outset, I didn’t realize that Duvall was in this movie, and it was hard not to think about his portrayal of Boo Radley in the motion picture version of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which came out just seven years before “True Grit.” If you’ve ever wondered what it would have been like to see Boo Radley in a cowboy movie, then just watch the 1969 version of “True Grit,” and you’ll have your answer.
Having now seen both movies and read the novel, it’s hard not to compare all three. I enjoyed the 1969 movie because it was entertaining, funny and seemed wholesome and kid-friendly. I love the 2010 movie because of its modern edge and improvements on the older version. Of course, the novel is superior to both as is often the case with books and movies. Another thing that watching this movie made me want to do is to re-read the novel.
Probably the biggest difference between the two movies are the actors that play Rooster Cogburn and Mattie Ross. In my opinion, Hailee Steinfeld’s portrayal of Mattie Ross in the 2010 movie was far superior to Darby’s. Jeff Bridge’s played Cogburn in the 2010 movie, and I also favor his portrayal of Cogburn over John Wayne’s, even though Wayne is a close second.
In the end, how many of you have watched the original, 1969 version of “True Grit”? What did you think about it? Did you like it better than the recent remake? Let us know in the comments section below.