Monday, December 27, 2010

But what was the point?

While I recognize that John Wayne is an iconic movie star, I've never been a big fan. Like Bogart, Wayne is more star than actor, and like Bogie, Wayne's screen persona generally leaves me cold. And as with Bogart and Casablanca and The African Queen, there is the rare John Wayne performance that captivated me: his Oscar-winning turn in True Grit.

"Fill yer hands, you sonovabitch!"

Jeff Bridges is more actor than movie star. There's no "typical" Jeff Bridges performance, no screen persona he inhabits. Small town bad boy in The Last Picture Show, injured but still ethical football player in Against All Odds, remorseless killer in Jagged Edge, and, of course, Bad Blake in Crazy Heart, Jeff Bridges has disappeared into his characters and captured my imagination in role after role for the last 40 years.

But this time, he suffers in comparison to John Wayne. Matt Damon is so good as LeBeuf, miles better than Glen Campbell in the original. And Hailee Steinfeld as Maddie is a delight because she is a real girl, not a twenty-something playing a girl, the way Kim Darby did in the original. I kept wishing Damon and Steinfeld could have been in the original True Grit with the real Rooster Cogburn.

So if you enjoyed the original True Grit as much as I did, skip the remake.


  1. I had the same reaction when I heard they were re-making "True Grit." But I took my Dad for his Christmas present because I remember the original being a movie we had watched together.

    The story was good, but different from what I remember in the original, and apparently closer to the book. I was impressed with the little girl's acting, but what this version really made me want to do is read the book and watch the original again.

  2. I'm so glad to hear this. I've been in protest mode ever since they announced the re-make. That was John Wayne's last film and the only one he won an oscar with. The film was dedicated to him because he died of cancer. I thought it a slap in the face of John Wayne's achievements to re-make his best and final film.

  3. Kaye, as much as I agree with your sentiment, it's off a bit factually. After True Grit, he went on to make at least two other movies -- a sequel with Kate Hepburn called Rooster Cogburn and The Shootist. It's The Shootist where he played a gunfigher dying of cancer. That was his last movie. But wouldn't it have been more suitable if the old boy had died after True Grit, with his Oscar-winning turn as his finale?