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Western films, from silent to today

True Grit (2010)

True Grit (2010) DVD coverMattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) arrives in Fort Smith at the tender age of 14 with vengeance on her mind. Her father has been killed by a drunken hired hand named Tom Chaney, who stole his horse and his two gold pieces. Now he’s on the run, and the law doesn’t seem in much of a hurry to catch him.

So she decides to hire her own marshal to track Chaney down and opts for the one who’s described to her as having “true grit” — an aging, hard-drinking lawman named Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), who doesn’t bother bringing them back alive if it isn’t convenient or if the outlaws put up nary a bit of resistance.

Cogburn’s reluctant to take the job. He’s even more reluctant to have Mattie tag along. He does form a partnership with a Texas Ranger named LeBoeuf (Matt Damon), who’s after the same outlaw. Seems Chaney previously killed a Texas senator in a fight over a dog. LeBoeuf wants to take Chaney back to Texas so he hangs for that crime; Mattie’s determined to see him punished for her father’s death instead.

Of course, finding Chaney will be the first challenge. The second will be bringing him to justice, because all signs point to that fact that he’s joined an outlaw gang led by Lucky Ned Pepper.

Rating 5 out of 6Review:

Certainly miles better than most low-budget Westerns we’re provided in the 21st century, and the Coen brothers, to their credit, do not give up a line-by-line, blow-by-blow remake of the John Wayne version of the story.

But, gee, if you’re going to spend $30 million on a Western that looks as great as this one does, wouldn’t a fresh story be better? One where fans of the genre don’t know how things are likely to turn out?

As for the cast, Hailee Steinfeld is the revelation, holding her own while surrounded by the likes of Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and poor Josh Brolin, who gets to play an outlaw who can’t catch a break and winds up being shot – twice – by a teenage girl.

As for true grit, that 14-year-old girl winds up showing as much as anyone in the film.

Directed by:
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Jeff Bridges … Rooster Cogburn
Hailee Steinfeld … Mattie Ross
Matt Damon … LaBoeuf
Josh Brolin … Tom Chaney
Barry Pepper … Lucky Ned Pepper
Dakin Matthews … Col. Stonehill
Jariath Conroy … Undertaker
Paul Rae … Emmett Quinc
Dombnall Gleeson … Moon
Elizabeth Marvel … older Mattie
Ed Corbin … Bear Man
Leon Russom … Sheriff
Bruce Green … Harold Parmalee

Runtime: 114 min.

Memorable lines:

Cogburn: “Chaney could be a corpse.”
Mattie: “That would be a bitter disappointment.”

Cogburn, looking up at a man hanging high in a tree: “Is it Chaney?”
Mattie: “I would not recognize the soles of his feet.”
Cogburn: “Well, you’re have to clamor up. I’m too old and fat.”

Mattie: “We promised to bury the poor soul inside.”
Cogburn: “Ground’s too hard. If them men wanted a decent burial, they should have gotten themselves kilt in summer.”

Cogburn, after LeBoeuf uses a Latin phrase: “I’m struck. That LeBoeuf has been shot, trampled and nearly severed his tongue. Not only does he not cease to talk, but he spills the banks of English.”

Cogburn: “I mean to kill you in one minute, Ned. Or see you hanged in Fort Smith at Judge Parker’s convenience. Which will you have?”
Ned: “I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man.”
Cogburn: “Fill your hand, you son of a bitch.”

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