Monday, August 6, 2012

True Grit

Kim Darby was twenty-two when she played tweenager Mattie Ross in the first version of True Grit with John Wayne. But she seemed more innocent than actual 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld in the 2010 version with Jeff Bridges. Darby wanting to see her father's killer brought to justice was more touching than Hailee's blood thirsty drive for revenge.

It made me think of the movie Bad Company starring a much, much younger Jeff Bridges as leader of a group of juvenile delinquents in Kansas during the Civil War. The criminals in the movie were the least threatening characters. The marshal and his men were killers, which wasn't surprising, But the farmers and settlers were terrible. They were cold blooded and vengeful. There's one shocking scene that shows how bad they were.

I never liked westerns because of the ugly clothes, the uninviting desert landscapes, the illiterates whose only recreation was hanging around in bars and whose greatest ambition is to some day own a ranch. True Grit had none of that stuff. It made the old west look pretty nice. People were educated and spoke really good English, criminal defendants had lawyers who aggressively cross-examined witnesses and people threatened to sue each other rather than threatening violence. There were no barroom brawls. Kind of a nice setting, too. They weren't out sweating in the desert. But you really want to live among people like Mattie Ross?

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