Sunday, December 26, 2010

TRUE GRIT (1969) - Henry Hathaway


Not a bad western by any stretch, but still inferior to the Coen Brothers version in almost every way. Watching the two films back to back on Christmas Day was a case study in how even the smallest directorial decisions can make all the difference.

The girl who plays Mattie here (Kim Darby) felt a little too old to reinforce the novel's prime joke that this is a young girl out for blood. Also, casting the blank slate pop-star Glen Campbell as "LaBeef" feels like the result of old school studio pressure. Hathaway's version is much more timid in the use of Portis' baroque language than the Coens', though there are still a few choice lines sprinkled throughout. This may have been a concession to 1960s mass audiences or maybe just the Duke not wishing to get his sluggish tongue twisted. Who knows for sure?

Either way, when John Wayne starts to "pulling corks" and getting tipsy I believe it a little less than I did with Bridges (though I'm sure Wayne in real life knew his way to the bottom of a bottle).  I believe the Duke a little more when it comes to horse ridin' and gun-firin' though, and that, after all, is all most people ask for in a western.

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