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True Grit (1969)

aka True Grit

"The strangest trio ever to track a killer"

Directed By: 
Details: 128 mins · English · G (USA)


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Small Marshall Reuben J. 'Rooster' Cogburn
Small Mattie Ross
No_movie_poster Emmett Quincy
Small Moon
Small Ned Pepper
Small La Boeuf
Small Lawyer Daggett
Small Tom Chaney
No_movie_poster Lawyer Goudy
Small Col. Stonehill


Small Henry Hathaway Director
No_movie_poster Marguerite Roberts Screenplay
No_movie_poster Charles Portis Novel
No_movie_poster Hal B. Wallis Production
No_movie_poster Charles Portis Story Contributor


"The strangest trio ever to track a killer"


After Frank Ross (John Pickard) is murdered in 1878 (though at the end of film, the date October 1880 is engraved on his tombstone, but that may be the mistake the engraver made that Mattie mentions to Rooster) by his hired hand, Tom Chaney (Jeff Corey), in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Ross' 14-year-old daughter Mattie (Kim Darby) travels to Fort Smith and hires the aging U.S. Marshal Reuben "Rooster" J. Cogburn (John Wayne). Mattie has heard that, despite his vices and missing eye, Cogburn has "true grit". She gives Rooster a down payment to track down Chaney, who has taken up with "Lucky" Ned Pepper (Robert Duvall), a gang leader whom Rooster once shot in a gunfight.

The pair must head into Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Mattie buys a horse for this, after collecting money from a horse trader (Strother Martin). They are joined by a young Texas Ranger, La Boeuf (Glen Campbell), who hopes to collect a $1,500 reward for capturing Chaney, much more than Mattie is offering Cogburn. The ranger says Chaney also killed a Texas state senator named Bibbs, and Bibbs' dog. Mattie dislikes the boastful La Boeuf and refuses his assistance, but the ranger joins forces with Cogburn, who agrees to split the reward with him. The two try to abandon Mattie, but they learn that she is determined to join their posse.

After several days, the three plan to spend the night at a cabin which Cogburn had said would be empty. At the cabin, they discover Emmett Quincy (Jeremy Slate) and Moon (Dennis Hopper), two horse thieves waiting for Pepper. Moon's leg is badly injured and Cogburn uses the injury as leverage to get information about Pepper from them. To prevent Moon from telling too much, Quincy fatally stabs Moon with a knife, and Cogburn kills Quincy. Before Moon dies, he tells Cogburn that Pepper and his gang are due at the hideout that night; the posse lays a trap.

The following morning, Pepper and his men arrive at the hideout. La Boeuf mistakenly fires and a shootout ensues, during which Cogburn and La Boeuf kill two of the gang, but Pepper and the rest escape. Cogburn, La Boeuf and Mattie make their way to McAlester's store, where the marshal arranges for the four dead men to be buried.

The three continue their pursuit. After a few days, Mattie slips down a steep hill one morning on her way to bathe in a river and finds herself face-to-face with Chaney. She shoots and wounds him, calling out to her partners. Pepper and his gang capture her, and he forces Cogburn and La Boeuf to abandon the girl.

Cogburn doubles back and attacks Pepper and his gang. La Boeuf finds Mattie and moves Chaney to an area he thinks is secure. La Boeuf and Mattie move to an outcropping and watch as a mounted Cogburn confronts Ned and his three gang members. Cogburn tells Pepper he has a choice of getting killed or surrendering and being hanged at Judge Isaac Parker's convenience. Pepper replies that is "bold talk for a one-eyed fat man." Cogburn shouts "Fill your hand, you son of a bitch!" just as he begins charging the four gunmen firing a rifle in one hand and a pistol in the other and holding the horse's reins in his mouth. Rooster shoots down three of the gang and wounds Pepper, but Rooster is trapped under his fallen horse which has been shot by Ned. As Pepper prepares to finish off a helpless Rooster, La Boeuf snipes Pepper from the outcropping located about 400 yards away with a single shot, killing him instantly.

As La Boeuf and Mattie return to Pepper's camp, Chaney comes out from behind a tree and strikes La Boeuf in the head with a rock, immediately knocking him unconscious and causing an ultimately fatal wound. Mattie shoots and wounds Chaney in the arm but, driven back from the recoil, falls into a pit breaking her arm. Cogburn arrives and fatally shoots Chaney, sending him into the pit. As Cogburn descends into the pit on a rope to retrieve Mattie, she is bitten by a rattlesnake, which he shoots and kills. La Boeuf, thought to be dead, peers over the pit and helps them get out by tying the rope to his horse and riding it slowly away from the pit. After Mattie and Cogburn are safely out of the pit, La Boeuf collapses and dies.

In a hurry to get help for Mattie's snakebite, they have to leave La Boeuf's body. They both must ride Mattie’s horse, but the overloaded horse collapses and succumbs before they reach their destination. Undaunted, Cogburn gathers Mattie in his arms and carries her until they encounter some horsemen with a wagon. Cogburn steals the wagon and they ride it the rest of the way to McAlester's. There, an Indian doctor treats Mattie's snakebite and splints her broken arm.

Days later, Mattie's attorney, J. Noble Daggett (John Fiedler) arrives. Throughout the plot, Mattie has frequently used his name as a legal threat on occasions when she fails to get her way. He pays Cogburn a $75 reward for Chaney's capture, plus (at Mattie's direction) an additional $200 for saving her life. Mattie is still ill from the snakebite and Cogburn offers to bet the attorney the $275 that Mattie will make it back to her home, but Daggett declines to bet against her.

Weeks later, Mattie, arm in a sling, is recovered and at home. She shows a visiting Cogburn her family burial plot on the land. Cogburn was there to receive all the reward money offered for Chaney in Texas. She promises that he can be buried next to her family after his death. Cogburn reluctantly accepts, hoping his burial will not be too soon. She offers him her father's pistol which he reluctantly accepts, stating that it misfired once. He leaves, jumping over a fence with his new horse to disprove her claim that he was too old and fat. He heads off into the valley below as the film ends.

Release Dates:

Theatrical : 1969-06-11 : United States of America

DVD : 2000-03-21

DVD : 2007-05-22