Monday, 7 February 2011

True Grit 1969

Now for a film. A remake of True Grit created by the Coen Brothers has been released in British Cinemas this week and like the original is in the running for Oscars. John Wayne achieved his only Oscar success with the film given more as reward for his long career rather than the specific acting performance which should have gone to the 14 year old Teenage daughter of a murdered rancher played by Kim Darby then aged in her early twenties. The girl lived with her father, mother, younger brother and baby sister and ranch hand circ 1880. Another rancher has killed her father, stolen cash in hand, a couple of gold coins and a horse. She goes into the local town to arrange for father to have a better coffin grave stone and sent back to the ranch and to find get the Sheriff to go after the murderer.

Bearing in mind she is only fourteen she appears confident, feisty, determined and courageous. She does a deal with Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne) to go after the man for $100 with a down payment of $25. He is a Federal Marshal able to travel in Indian reservation territory where as the local Sherriff has no jurisdiction. She then talks to the local horse dealer forcing him to pay for four geldings sold as breeding horses to her father and also compensation for other items involved in the actions of the murders, making a total of $300. She had threatened him with her lawyer as she also threatened Wayne when he started to renege on the deal between them.

The girl stays a local rooming house where also arrive Texas Ranger Le Boeuf played by the sing songwriter Glen Campbell. He plays a straight role although sings the opening ballad. The music for the film was composed by Elmer Bernstein. Campbell is also after the man whose killed her father who killed a Texan politician whose family has employed the Ranger. He is a rival with Rooster for the reward money but agree to join forces, including that they should make the venture alone when the girl insists in travelling with them. They have a lead that their man has participated in a railway hold up with a gang whose leader is someone Rooster has been after for sometime. This is Luck Ned Pepper who survived being show by Rooster in the past. The man is played by a young Robert Duvall. Also a member of the gang is Moon played another young star in the making, Dennis Hopper.

After several days they plan to spend the night in a cabin only to find it occupied by two horse thieves (one is Hopper) waiting for the rest of the gang to arrive for the fresh horses the two have stolen. Eventually these two die, one at the hands of the other, and two of the rest of the gang of four but not the two most wanted men. The four men are brought into the nearest town for reward and burial.

The trio then go off after the rest and the girl accidentally comes across her father’s filler as she goes to wash in a near river when they have camped for the night. The exciting climax results in her father’s gun misfiring and in her capture until rescued by Wayne and Campbell and they capture her father’s killer. However Wayne becomes involved in a shoot out with the other man and three of his henchmen and is then trapped under his dead horse. Campbell is the overcome by the remaining killer and in the struggle the girl falls into a pit with lethal snakes. She is then rescued as first the father killer is himself gunned down. However Campbell who has been shot dies after helping Wayne to get her out fo the pit. Wayne then has to d ride and drive fast as the girl is bitten by one fo the snakes. He gets her to the nearest town to her home where she remains very ill for some time. Wayne then finds that the lawyer she talked about is real when he calls to settle the hire and also to give a bonus for saving her life. He then visits her when she is still recovering from the broken arm sustained in the fall and she shows him the family plot. She offers him a place which he says he may well take up, in time.

The film is based on a novel by Charles Portis published only a year before. The novel is in the form of the girl who has become an old woman recounting her story. La Boeuf survives his head injury in the novel. In the book the girl has to have her arm amputated. Rooster is supposed to be 40 years of age in the book with Wayne aged and looking is 61. The book is set in winter to communicate a harsher reality than the autumn of the film. While the film does follow the place names of the book it shows a different environment. In addition tot eh remake there was a sequel in which Wayne is the centre of attention called Rooster Cogburn

Although Kim Darby came to international fame as a result of the film, he subsequent career in film and Tm never brought her the same attention. She married five times, some briefly as well as known to have affairs with two known actors. Her last film role was in 2007 (Dead Letters) and on TV in an X files production in 1999. She continues to make guest celebrity appearances

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