Friday, March 25, 2011


True Grit, written by Charles Portis and published in 1968, was made into a movie in 1969 and released again as a film in 2010.  Portis, a native of El Dorado, Arkansas ,  chronicles the effort of a 14 year old Mattie Ross to avenge the murder of her father by a drifter, Tom Chaney.  To achieve her aim, she enlists the services of a Federal Deputy Marshal, Reuben J. Cogburn to bring Chaney to justice at Judge Isaac Parker's court in Fort Smith.  Rooster, as Cogburn is known, was chosen

because Mattie understood that he had grit.  In the pursuit of Chaney, they are joined by a Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf who has been chasing Chaney for a murder in Texas.  As the three travel through the Indian territory, today's Oklahoma, they discover Chaney has linked up with the Lucky Ned Pepper gang of outlaws and stock thieves, and eventually the gang is encountered with serious consequences. 

 True Grit is written as a narrative of the events by Mattie in the later years of her life.  As I read this interesting volume I could not help but conclude that Mattie Ross was a young lady with true grit.  Mattie was a determined young lady who could negotiate a horse trade with the best and quote scripture like a preacher.  In reviewing this 43 year old novel, it must be mentioned that Charles Portis demonstrated his enjoyable sense of humor in many of the scenes and conversations that Mattie recalled. 

Early in the book as Mattie traveled to Fort Smith to claim her father's body, she noticed outlaws being unloaded from a prison wagon to await trial in Parker's court.  She notes that "justice had caught up with them to demand payment.You must pay for everything in this world one way and another."  Then she makes an insightful remark that is quoted at the beginning of the 2010 film adaption of the book: "There is nothing free except the Grace of God.  You cannot earn that or deserve it."

Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfield
I highly recommend this enjoyable book and either or both of the movies.  John Wayne was outstanding as Rooster Cogburn and won his only Oscar in the 1969 release, but for me the 2010 version did an overall better job of presenting the flavor of True Grit, and Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfield both delivered a much more believable presentation of Portis' gritty Deputy Marshal and the young but stubbon Mattie Ross. 

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I still haven't seen it. Can't wait.

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