Cole Thornton, a gunfighter for hire, joins forces with an old friend, Sheriff J.P. Hara. Together with an old Indian fighter and a gambler, they help a rancher and his family fight a rival rancher that is trying to steal their water.
The murder of her father sends a teenage tomboy, Mattie Ross, (Kim Darby), on a mission of "justice", which involves avenging her father's death. She recruits a tough old marshal, "Rooster" Cogburn (John Wayne), because he has "grit", and a reputation of getting the job done. The two are joined by a Texas Ranger, La Boeuf, (Glen Campbell), who is looking for the same man (Jeff Corey) for a separate murder in Texas. Their odyssey takes them from Fort Smith, Arkansas, deep into the Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma) to find their man.Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org> [edited]
"La Boeuf" means "the beef" in French. Interestingly the "La" makes his name feminine. In French, "Boeuf" is masculine ("Le"). See more »
Position of Rooster's right arm on the table while playing cards and talking with Mattie. See more »
Little Frank... You take care of your mama.
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When submitted for a rating from the MPAA in 1969, the film was given an "M". The film was edited and re-rated "G". The American VHS version contains the "G" rated cut while the DVD is the uncut "M" version (which would be printed as "PG" since the symbol was changed in the 1970s). See more »
I have a kind of synchronistic relationship with this movie. I had dinner in a Chinese restaurant in Washington, DC, called "Chin's", and the next day sensed in the theater that the Chinese guy would be called "Chin." A bit later I bought a worn paperback copy of the novel in Mrs. Cohen's bookstore in South Windsor, Connecticut, not expecting much. The dialogue in the movie was stilted. I figured the novel was just some exercise in style. But that was wrong. The novel is even better than the movie. Charles Portis has got Arkansas of circa 1890 down pat. I looked up in the DARE all those expressions that didn't immediately click with me -- "blue john", "that's a big story," "barlow knife," "dogfall," "Christmas gift" -- and they all work. Portis hit every nail on the head, and not only with respect to lexicon. The novel as a whole is beautifully done. Not to denigrate the movie, though. Kim Darby and the other players are good. John Wayne is excellent as a character actor. His performance here ranks up there with his Captain Brittles in "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon." Why in God's name, after this, did he go back to his usual heroic roles in dismissable efforts like "The Train Robbers." Every word he utters here is "Rooster Cogburn," not "John Wayne," except for one exchange on horseback about Quantrell. Hoarse, drunk, smelly, weighty -- he embodies the part. The cinematography is without equal. Sharp, smooth. A viewer almost smells the junipers and pinon pines of the Colorado mountains and feels the nightly chill in the air and whiffs the campfire smoke. A marvelously done novel turned into as good a movie as possible. At one point, with nothing much being made of it, Kim Darby says of alcohol, "I would not put a thief in my mouth to steal my brains." Portis shouldn't get credit for that because it is a quote from Shakespeare.
I won't identify the play.
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