A Man With True Grit

Better late than never…
Three word movie review: Go see it.

Charles Portis did something that few of us have the stones to do. He gave up a well paying job as a journalist and left the city to move to a cabin and write the great American novel.

A few months back when I heard the news of the Coen brothers remake of True Grit, it was exciting. Mostly because – unlike the 1969 version starring John Wayne – the new True Grit would very closely follow the original Portis story. In fact, Ethan and Joel Coen instructed Matt Damon not to watch the original film, they told him to read the book. And the book is truly great.

I can identify with what Portis did by giving up his job and life in the city by moving back home (to Arkansas) to follow his true passion. It is at least a feeling I can appreciate. It takes a lot of guts and the fact of the matter, change is almost always difficult.

Both True Grit and Charles Portis’ first novel Norwood both became popular movies. John Wayne ended up winning an Oscar for his role as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit, which is the same thing I can see happening to Jeff Bridges, who is magnificent in the role. But the real star here is the story. If you haven’t read the book, I suggest you do so. Going to see the new True Grit after having read the book made it all that much more enjoyable. The Coens executed the film perfectly, in my opinion. Even Jason Bourne, er, Matt Damon was surprisingly great. I say surprisingly because, prior to this, I couldn’t see Damon as much of a Western guy. But Matt Damon is terrific, as is the whole cast.

All that said, none of it could come close to being as great as the book. I suggest you own it and read it.

Comments on “A Man With True Grit

    TT on January 11, 2011 4:34 PM:

    Damon also plays a Westerner (an actual cowboy) in All The Pretty Horses, directed by Billy Bob Thornton back in 2000. The film is actually an adaptation of my favorite Cormac novel of the same name; I think this marks the first cinematic adaptation of a Cormac story. Anyhow, the film is good, but as in most cases — except maybe LA Confidential — I’d much recommend reading the novel first.

    Billy on January 11, 2011 4:45 PM:

    Agreed, a very good film with 3 very good performances. I actually thought Hailee Steinfeld‎ as Mattie Ross stole the show. But is it up there with the Coen Bros. very best work like Fargo and No Country? In my opinion…not even close.

    Larry on January 11, 2011 4:47 PM:

    Yeah, people from Minnesota make some pretty cool shit :-)

    DAT on January 11, 2011 4:48 PM:

    Thanks for the recommendation to all to read the book. It’s wonderful. I disagree with your statement “unlike the 1969 version starring John Wayne — the new True Grit would very closely follow the original Portis story.” With the exception of the epilogue (which was written for the film by Portis), the 1969 version is truer to the book than the Coen Brothers’ adaptation. I loved the new movie too, but it missed out by not involving Damon’s character more and not giving us nearly enough character development. Thanks again.

    J. Beasley on January 11, 2011 6:00 PM:

    The film was more than impressive. Coen Bros. have done it again.

    seth on January 11, 2011 6:36 PM:

    Agreed about True Grit, both the book and the movie. While you’re at it, read Dog of the South by Portis. A tense and hilarious thriller. (Oh yeah, and Steven Wright’s great road novel, Going Native.)

    Leland on January 11, 2011 8:13 PM:

    I have the same edition–one of my favorite novels and a great one to read again and again. My only gripe with the otherwise excellent Coen adaptation is that they don’t get you into Blackie the pony all that much. Blackie is such a big deal in the book and (*spoiler alert*) it’s really traumatic when he dies. That scene continues to haunt me years after I first read it.

    Agree with Seth that Dog of the South is worth picking up.

    The|Coinologist on January 11, 2011 10:41 PM:

    Williams. I bow down….

    TMH on January 12, 2011 7:33 PM:


    ryan williams on January 13, 2011 10:29 AM:

    For me, when I heard “Coen Brothers”, as usual I say no thanks.

    Valentine on January 14, 2011 12:16 AM:

    Thanks for the heads up. It will be the next book I read because I agree, the movie was all around fabulous.

    Paul on January 17, 2011 11:07 AM:

    Agreed. And with that, “Ah-dee-yos.”

    Larry on January 17, 2011 12:28 PM:

    “I don’t believe in fairy tales, sermons or stories about money baby sister, but thanks for the cigarette.”

    Lusaigh on January 20, 2011 6:26 PM:

    I read “True Grit” when the book came out in print in the ’60’s, it was on the NYT Bestsellers List and it was a 1st edition. Bought the hardback edition and now, 40 years later want to kick myself for not having the book.

    Never thought they’d do a remake of it and after so many years. Generally do not like remakes of films. But, yes. The book certainly is different than the original film version: Mattie is not in braids and not anywhere near the age of the girl in the book, LaBoeuf survives where in the book he dies. Not sure if I want to see the remake. I felt that the the first film was a vehicle for John Wayne (who, by the way, did a fantastic job as Rooster Cogburn, Robert Duvall also was great) and for Glen Campbell’s singing. Both Kim Darby’s and Glen Campbell’s acting left much to be desired.

    angel on January 25, 2011 7:04 PM:

    sadly, i was a given a 5 word movie review. but would still like to check it out.

Comments are closed.