True Grit

In 1968 Charles Portis wrote the novel, True Grit.  A year later the movie was made.  John Wayne won the best-actor Oscar ostensibly for playing the character Rooster Cogburn, but really for playing John Wayne.  Last year, the Coen boys, Ethan and Joel, made their version of this movie.  Last Friday, Anne and I went to go see the film.

The Coen brother’s movie sports an all-star cast.  Jeff Bridges plays the drunk, profane and trigger-happy US marshal, Rooster Cogburn.  Matt Damon plays the Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf, who calls himself LaBeef and acts the role of the comic foil.  And Josh Brolin rounds out this starry constellation as the film’s bad guy.  But these actors merely orbit around the center of this movie, Mattie, played by newcomer, Hailee Steinfeld, the young heroine who is by far the biggest pistol in the film.

True Grit opens with the first half of Proverbs 28:1, “The wicked flee when no man pursueth”.  Interestingly, the film never manages to get back to the second half of that verse, “but the righteous are bold as a lion.”  It is a portentous omission.  In the Coen’s last western, the Academy Award winning No Country for Old Men, fate decides that film’s course, with the flip of a coin. 

In True Grit, God must have decided, because by the end of the movie, all have fled, save Mattie, who is only left to tell the tale.  D. H. Lawrence once observed that “the essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic and a killer.”  NY Times critic, Manohla Dargis, rightly connected this observation to Mattie.  By the end of the movie it fitted her to a tee.

At its heart though, True Grit is a western and as such, is filled with horses, gunfights, high moralizing and plain talk.   The following verbal exchange, given just before the exchange of gunfire, epitomizes the western and comes in a scene that includes all four of these attributes.  

Rooster: I mean to kill you in one minute, Ned, or see you hanged in Fort Smith at Judge Parker’s convenience.  Which’ll it be?
Ned: I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man.
Rooster: Fill your hand, you son of a bitch.

Anne and I both liked the movie.  It is a shame that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association didn’t.  The film was slighted by the Golden Globe Awards.  I hope that the Academy Awards treat this movie better.

This painting pictured above, is entitled Smoke of a .45, and was painted by Charles Russell.  I photographed the painting at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth.  It depicts a furious gunfight between a group of cowboys and the inhabitants of a gambling saloon on the frontier.  It seemed to ably capture the lawlessness and the need for frontier justice depicted in True Grit.

Pictured below is another submission from Chris’ camera.  This panoramic photograph is of Monterey’s harbor.  In the right-hand background is the Monterey Fisherman’s Wharf, a major tourist attraction.  On the left are moored pleasure boats.  Some of these boats are wrapped in orange plastic construction fencing.  This is done to prevent harbor seals from climbing up onto the deck.  In the center are a pair of surfers, who are poling their boards through the harbor.  Click on the picture to see it in full.

1 thought on “True Grit

  1. The photographs you post are always wonderful! I am particularly enamored of the sunset photo in your current banner… having seen many versions over the same land formation over the past 30 or so years. It’s like a living kaleidoscope, every image is different and so fleeting. Yet all those images are wonderful.

    Still remembering the summer when Jack, Anne, Jim, and even the kids were taking turns rushing out of the cabin with their cameras to snag photos of the sunsets!

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