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True Grit

USA 1969
produced by
Hal B. Wallis for Paramount
directed by Henry Hathaway
starring John Wayne, Kim Darby, Glen Campbell, Jeremy Slate, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Alfred Ryder, Strother Martin, Jeff Corey, Ron Soble, John Fiedler, James Westerfield, John Doucette, Donald Woods, Edith Atwater, Carlos Rivas, Isabel Bonivace, H.W. Gim, John Pickard, Elizabeth Harrower, Ken Renard, Jay Ripley, Kenneth Becker, Myron Healey, Jay Silverheels, Guy Wilkerson
screenplay by Marguerite Roberts, based on the novel by Charles Portis, music by Elmer Bernstein, cinematography by Lucien Ballard

Rooster Cogburn

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The Old West: Mattie (Kim Darby) is the proverbial wallflower: She is not yet 20 but spends her time as bookkeeper on her father's (John Pickard) ranch, and her firm Christian faith prohibits her from having any fun - and on top of that, she lacks any sense of humour.

But if she's one thing, than that's resolute, so when her daddy is killed by one of his ranchhands, Chaney (Jeff Corey), Mattie, who all her life has hardly ever left the house, goes out into the big world to catch the killer.

Mattie might be resolute, but she's not stupid, and soon enough she realizes catching a killer is too big a task for one girl with limited experiences alone - especially since Chaney has since hooked up with Ned Pepper's (Robert Duvall) gang of cutthroats -, so she ensures the help of the toughest Marshal she can find, Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne), a rough-edged and heavy drinking giant of a man with a history of violence ... in a word, the complete opposite of Mattie. At first, Cogburn doesn't want to have anything to do with the girl, especially when she insists to go with him on his chase after Chaney and Pepper's gang through Indian country, but Mattie can be very persistant.

Eventually, the unlikely duo is joined by Texas Ranger La Boeuf (Glen Campbell), who has been trailing Chaney for months, and who figures with the help of Cogburn he might finally be able to catch up with him.

Tracking the killer, our heroes show their shortcomings, especially Cogburn, who proves to be too drunk most of the time to follow a trail, and La Boeuf, who's hot-headed and a terrible shot. Still, they find Chaney, but rather by accident, when Mattie literally bumps into him by accident. She takes a shot at him and injures him, too - but that's not necessarily a good thing, because this alerts Pepper and his men, and somehow they get to Mattie before Cogburn and La Boeuf can, and take her hostage.

Pepper and company of course vastly outnumber Cogburn and La Boeuf, and still the two eventually attack to free Mattie ... and succeed, too, in shooting most of Pepper's gang, but Mattie ends up in a snakepit with Chaney, and it's really at the last possible moment that Cogburn comes to her rescue - but ultimately they both have to be saved by La Boeuf, who gives his life doing so ...


A nice Western, True Grit is not quite the classic one is made think it is: Basically, the film as a whole lacks stringency, too much time is spent to introduce the character of Mattie, the frail but resolute girl, and the point that she is frail but resolute is made a few times too often. At least though she is very well-played by Kim Darby, who manages to totally stand her ground against iconic John Wayne, who gives maybe the best performance of his career. But still, focusing too much on Mattie means neglecting some other interesting characters the story has to offer, namely La Boeuf and especially Ned Pepper (who's wonderfully portrayed by Robert Duvall) who remain very sketchy throughout the film. Also the chase for Chaney seems to take backseat throughout to the exchanges between Kim Darby and John Wayne - but at least these exchanges are pretty well done ... except for the one at the ending, which is nothing but cheesy.

To sum it up, I can only repeat myself, a nice Western but no masterpiece.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD