Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews as I go through the process of making my own 12 Westerns in 12 Months during 2020. I am watching these films not from an audience perspective but as a filmmaker, as a student of the genre.


Week Fifty Nine: True Grit


I’ve avoided the original True Grit. Why? Anyone whose taste I trusted always told me it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Were they right? Yes. Was it still worth finally taking a look? Of course.

Wayne should have won the Oscar for pretty much every role he played but this one. He’s better in The Searchers. He’s better in Red River. Heck, he’s even better in The Cowboys. But the Oscars are not and have never been about rewarding someone based on the true quality of their performance. It’s politics and payback.

So the film… it has its moments. The acting that really stands out to me is Kim Darby’s. She carries the pictures, bringing life and energy to it. Glen Campbell is by far the weakest link. I felt nothing for his character and often times cringed with his dialog delivery. The other highlight are the villains. Duvall is great of course and he creates in his brief time on screen a complex bad guy, one I wished the story had spent more time with.

My two favorite scenes of the picture: 1. When things get dark very fast as Dennis Hopper is betrayed by his partner. 2. When Darby unexpectedly fires her pistol at her father’s killer. Both of these are great moments surrounded by others that are either by-the-numbers or off-the-mark.

On a final note, I think I may be getting a grip on Hathaway as a filmmaker. He doesn’t seem like the type who directed his actors much, letting them do just about what they wanted. That might be way off but it feels like action was his thing. His fight scenes are the strongest parts of his pictures, the ones I’ve seen at least.

Seen on Amazon Prime.