Monday, June 13, 2011


Gentle Readers,

I finally saw True Grit, and I loved, loved, loved it. It's beautifully made -- great lighting, cinematography -- and the dialog is hilariously witty and delivered so dry pan that it's made even more delightful.

Cross-examining Lawyer: So, you say that when Amos Wharton raised his axe, you backed away from him. 
Rooster Cogburn: That's right. 
Cross-examining Lawyer: In what direction were you going? 
Rooster Cogburn: Backwards. I always go backwards when I back up. 

To top it all off, the acting is first rate. Jeff Bridges makes an amazing Rooster Cogburn -- I was afraid he would just be Bad Blake in the West but not so; I did not realize immediately that LeBoeuf is portrayed by Matt Damon -- it's a Matt Damon I've never seen before, and has there ever been a funnier pretentious braggart of a Texas Ranger?; and Hailee Steinfeld is perhaps the most outstanding of all as Mattie Ross whose grit is truer than any man's.

Along the way, our little group also runs into the likes of Josh Brolin as Tom Chaney, the object of the search because he killed Mattie's father and she will not be deterred from her quest to see him punished; and Barry Pepper as Lucky Ned Pepper.

I love the characters' precise way of speaking, their beautiful diction -- an interesting touch I don't believe I've ever seen in a western.

LaBoeuf: You are getting ready to show your ignorance now, Cogburn. I don't mind a little personal chaffing but I won't hear anything against the Ranger troop from a man like you. 
Rooster Cogburn: How long have you boys been mounted on sheep down there? 
LaBoeuf: My shaggy horse will be galloping when that big American stud of yours is winded and collapsed. Now make another joke about it. You are only trying to put on a show for this girl Mattie with what you must think is a keen tongue. 
Rooster Cogburn: This is like women talking. 
LaBoeuf: Yes, that is the way! Make me out foolish in this girl's eyes. 
Rooster Cogburn: I think she has got you pretty well figured. 

Mattie Ross is so tenacious that were she to grow up and become a lawyer, I would want her to defend me if I got myself into trouble, or I would want her to prosecute if someone wronged me. I particularly enjoy the sequence when she negotiates with Colonel Stonehill to be paid for her father's stolen horse, to get the money back for the mustangs her father purchased from Stonehill, and then gets one of the mustangs back to ride herself.

Mattie Ross: I guess I have a $10 horse. Tell Col. Stonehill I said 'Thank you'. 
Stableboy: No ma'am. He said he don't never want to hear your name again! 

I have only vague memories of the original True Grit. It came out in 1969 when I was but a sniveling milk-fed pumpkin of a child. I know John Wayne finally won an Academy Award for playing Rooster Cogburn. The original made so little impression on me that I didn't remember much of what it was about. Merely recall Rooster Cogburn's eye patch.

So see the old movie if you want to make a comparison, but I don't know that I'd waste my time on it. Go with today's True Grit and God bless the Coen Brothers.

Infinities of love,


Rooster Cogburn: [LaBoeuf has been talking about malum prohibitum and malum in se] It astonishes me that Mr. LaBoeuf has been shot, trampled, and nearly bitten his tongue off, and yet not only does he continue to talk but he spills the banks of English. 

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