Classic / Western
Directed by Henry Hathaway
Written by Charles Portis and Marguerite Roberts
Produced by Hal B. Wallis
Cinematography by Lucien Ballard
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Cast: John Wayne as Reuben J. 'Rooster' Cogburn
Kim Darby as Mattie Ross
Glen Campbell as La Boeuf
Jeremy Slate as Emmett Quincy
Robert Duvall as Lucky Ned Pepper
Dennis Hopper as Moon
Strother Martin as Col. G. Stonehil
Jeff Corey as Tom Chaney
Donald Woods as Barlow
James Westerfield as Judge Parker
Wilford Brimley (uncredited)
Young Mattie Ross has come to Fort Smith seeking to see justice done for the murder of her father by a scoundrel named Tom Chaney. Although Mattie Ross is young, she is a no-nonsense kind of girl that is used to being underestimated, and forcefully asserts herself much to the dismay of many that encounter her. After setting her father’s affairs in order with a horse trader, she goes out searching for the meanest Marshall she can find, one with true grit -- the one-eyed, frequently drunken Rooster Cogburn. Mattie doggedly pursues him, finally convincing him to take her with him to capture Tom Cheney.
Before they can leave, a Texas Ranger by the name of La Boeuf tries to convince Rooster to help him. He has been sent from Texas to bring Tom Cheney to justice for killing a senator. Rooster agrees and the two of them leave town, trying to leave Mattie behind. She will have no such thing however, and earns her spurs by keeping up with the two men no matter how hard they try to shake her. Reluctantly they agree to let her assist, but exactly what will happen to Cheney is never really put to rest. Tom Cheney has been seen with a gang of outlaws lead by Ned Pepper.
Tracking Ned Pepper and his gang over the next few days, Rooster develops a respect for Mattie, who is showing her own true grit. Eventually they come across a cabin where two of Ned Pepper’s men, one of them wounded, are waiting for Ned to arrive. La Boeuf smokes them out of the cabin, and Rooster gets the drop on them. It takes some doing but eventually Rooster gets the wounded outlaw to talk, for which his partner kills him, getting shot by Rooster in return.
Rooster, Mattie and La Boeuf set a trap for Ned Pepper, but he is able to escape. The group continues to track the outlaws, but the trail goes cold, and Rooster and La Boeuf are about to give up, despite Mattie’s protests. Mattie goes off to get some water at a stream, and comes face to face with Tom Cheney. She confronts him about the murder before shooting him, although the shot doesn’t kill him. Tom Cheney comes after her, and is able to capture her, with Ned Pepper’s gang arriving to help just before Rooster and La Boeuf can make it to her aid.
Ned Pepper knows he has the upper hand, and forces Rooster to ride up over a ridge so that he knows Rooster and La Boeuf are gone, leaving Mattie alone at the hands of outlaws. It will definitely take a man with true grit to save Mattie and bring Tom Cheney to justice!
True Grit is the only film in John Wayne’s long career for which he won an Academy Award. John Wayne’s Oscar in the Best Actor Academy Award win was widely thought to be a sentimental choice, reflecting his long and impressive career.
John Wayne had met and liked singer Karen Carpenter and wanted her to play the role of Mattie Ross, and Sally Field was also up for the role of Mattie Ross, as was Sondra Locke. John Wayne had also promised the role to his daughter Aissa Wayne, although Henry Hathaway overruled him.
Originally Mia Farrow was cast as Mattie Ross and was excited about it. However during filming of a separate project in England, Robert Mitchum advised Mia not to work with director Henry Hathaway, as he could be “cantankerous.” Mia asked producer Hal B. Wallace to replace Henry, suggesting Roman Polanski, but Wallis refused and Mia quit the role.
John Wayne was not pleased by the casting of Kim Darby. Kim hardly spoke off camera. Later John Wayne was quoted as saying, “Christ, talk about having no chemistry with your leading lady! She was the goddamn lousiest actress I ever worked with.”
Mattie Ross was supposed to be 14; but Kim Darby was actually 21 when the film was made.
Elvis Presley was considered for the role of La Boeuf, however his manager insisted on top billing, so he was replaced by Glen Campbell.
Henry Hathaway did not like Glen Campbell’s performance in the film, claiming it was wooden. He revealed later that he only cast him so he could have a hit song that would help promote the film.
In spite of his support for the Hollywood blacklist, Wayne went ahead with the film even though it was written by a formerly blacklisted writer, Marguerite Roberts.
John Wayne considered Marguerite Roberts’ script to be the best he’d ever read.
This is the uncredited film debut of Wilford Brimley, who was cast in a minor role.
John Wayne and Robert Duvall did not get along during filming, with Wayne going so far as threatening to punch Duvall if he argued with the director again.
John Wayne was unhappy with the picture, especially regarding Kim Darby’s performance. He later told Richard Burton that he felt that he should have won the Oscar instead.
True Grit was remade in 2010 with Jeff Bridges appearing in John Wayne’s role.
Wayne loved the horse he used in this movie, Dollar, so much that he would go on to use the same horse in many later movies. For his role in The Shootist he made a point of ensuring that the horse was written into the movie as a stipulation of his appearing in it. The only person to ride Dollar on screen after John Wayne was Robert Wagner, in an episode of Hart to Hart after Wayne’s death.
True Grit trailer