True Grit [Blu-Ray] Henry Hathaway

True Grit [Blu-Ray] Henry Hathaway
Early in True Grit, Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne), the notoriously violent U.S. marshal, is negotiating terms with Mattie Ross (Kim Darby), a girl paying him to find her father's killer. Wayne punctuates a sentence with a wave of his arm, then waves his arm during his next sentence and then waves it again, and again, until you start to start to wonder if John Wayne is trying out his Woody Allen impression. But mere arm waving isn't the half of it: he keeps nodding his head, squinting his eye and opening his mouth aghast, even letting his famous drawl reach its higher pitches. How strange to see Wayne, an actor so famous for his woodenness, straining so hard to act. It seems astonishing that John Wayne won his only Oscar for this instead of Rio Bravo, The Searchers, Stagecoach or any of the other films where strong-willed directors like Howard Hawks and John Ford coaxed lean, sturdy, disciplined performances from "the Duke." But maybe it's worth considering that True Grit was released in 1969, two years after Bonnie and Clyde and Easy Rider changed Hollywood, and three years after a buncha eye-talians made The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, turning the western genre into something eccentric and morally ambiguous. Winner of Best Picture the same Oscar night that Wayne took home his prize? Midnight Cowboy, an X-rated film Wayne, a staunch conservative, bashed for its homosexual content in his famous Playboy interview. With its cheesy sets (every backwoods log cabin looks polished and shiny, especially in the unforgiving clarity of Blu-Ray), flat cinematography, hammy performances (singer Glenn Campbell is the worst offender, as the Texas ranger) and complete, absolute lack of atmosphere, True Grit feels like it could be any low to midrange western from 1942, and in this era of radical, long-haired, pot-smokin', hippie-dippy change in American cinema, maybe it was the right time for an average John Wayne western to succeed. Don't bother catching up with True Grit '69 before seeing the Coen Brothers' incomparably superior remake: this is one of those cases where you just had to be there. (Paramount)