True Grit (2010)
This has always been my favorite film. I am still a Big John Wayne fan but Jeff Bridges kicks butt in this portrayal of Rooster!
Henry Hathaway directed the original film. It was a movie with old good guys vs bad buys storyline, with jokes mainly revolving around the character of Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn. But there was no doubt that Rooster was a traditional hero, despite his tendency to drink a little too much, and the tendency to shoot first and ask questions later..
I feel The Coens version gave closer feeling the sense of rough justice. The sense that no good deed goes unpunished in the Old West , and that even heroes have faults and weaknesses.
Most westerns have horses and wagons and drunks, but they always lack the realism of the raw country and reek like they were shot on a stage in Hollywood. Most featured long-establishing shots ghost towns that had been around for a while, instead of the kind of realistic towns that mostly were thrown-together settlements that were tents before the townspeople got the money and the equipment to make buildings out of wood.
Played with a starchy impertinence, Mattie ( a young but smart girl )arrives in Fort Smith to arrange for the shipment home of her father’s body, settle his business affairs and seek some “justice” for his murder.
She settles on Marshal Reuben Cogburn (played by Jeff Bridges) as her agent of justice, because he has a reputation for being tough and relentless. Still, it takes some cold, hard cash to convince him to take on the mission into the Choctaw Indian Nation, to track down the man who killed her father Tom Chaney (played by Josh Brolin).
But a Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf (played by Matt Damon) is seeking Chaney under a different name for a murder in Texas. Eventually, LaBoeuf and Cogburn decide to partner up and go after Chaney alone. But the hardheaded Mattie finds out they left town without her and she chases them down to join in the hunt. This leads to a whole different experience than both of these “lawmen” are used to. And find themselves trying to outdo the other to showing off who’s the better man in front of a damsel in distress type of girl.
The action in the film is secondary to the developing relationship between Rooster and Mattie, as they ride together through the wilderness. She’s a refined talker and he’s an old school hard ass cowboy. During the film and the more relaxed they become, he opens up about his long, hardened life, broken marriage, and various attempts at business.
This is a great classic western. If you haven’t seen this one then you really need to, and add it to your list.