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