August 1st, 2012: True Grit (2010)

Cast and Crew:  Steven Spielberg (Executive Producer); Carter Burwell (Original Music); Roger Deakins (Cinematographer); J.K. Simmons

What It’s About:  When hired hand Chaney (Josh Brolin) robs and murders her father, Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) comes in to town to settle his affairs.  There she discovers that Chaney fled to Indian Territory and the Sheriff (Leom Rossom) will not pursue him there.  Mattie sets about hiring a U.S. Marshall to bring back Chaney, settling on Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) who she believes he has “true grit”.  Cogburn is an alcoholic with a reputation for shooting first and asking questions later who only reluctantly agrees to take her case.  Joining in the search is Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), who reveals that Chaney murdered a Texas state Senator and has a bounty on his head.  The trio wrangle back and forth, sometimes cooperating, sometimes not, as they pursue Chaney and the men he has fallen in with, “Lucky” Ned Pepper’s (Barry Pepper) gang.  Can the trio work together long enough to find Chaney, and will they survive when they do?  Read the full review here.

Why Watch it Today?:  Strother Martin died today in 1980.  You may wonder why the movie chosen in his memory was shot 20 years after his death, but there is a very good reason.  Martin, one of the great character actors, did such a good job playing the shady horse trader who Mattie runs rings around that Dakin Matthews, playing the same character, seems to have been instructed to act as much like Martin as possible.  It’s a testament to Martin’s ability to play such memorable loud mouth louses that craftsmen as particular as the Coen brothers would make as few changes as possible to his character.

Other Choices:  Watch Martin in the original True Grit or as a cantankerous bounty hunter in The Wild Bunch

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