Finally got around to see the original film version of True Grit with John Wayne. Given that I have seen the Coen Brother’s remake before seeing the earlier version, and loved it, I was delighted to find the original as good, if not even better. It’s also curious to see the slightly different direction, taken by the Coen brothers when remaking the film, a remake that apparently was closer to the original 1968 Charles Portis novel.
The film is brilliantly directed by the steady hands of Henry Hathaway, a director with a good eye for pacing, scenery, and balance of action, drama and humor. Kim Darby is superb as Mattie Ross, and Glen Campbell as Texas Ranger, La Boeuf, completes the trio, all playing well against each other. As a Western the story carries many of the classic marks of the genre, with the avenging daughter, the old-timer marshal serving as the avenger’s champion, and complete with a shootout. Yet, the smart dialogues (e.g. ‘Who knows what's in a man's heart?’, ‘Looking back is a bad habit.’) and the interplay of youth and older age, sharp mind and life-smart, slick and worn-out, add unparalleled charm which make this Western a classic.