Rooster Cogburn (1975)

PG | 107 mins | Western | 1975

Director:

Stuart Millar

Writer:

Martin Julien

Producer:

Hal B. Wallis

Cinematographer:

Harry Stradling, Jr.

Editor:

Robert Swink

Production Designer:

Preston Ames

Production Company:

Universal Pictures
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HISTORY

One review refers to the film as Rooster Cogburn (and the Lady) , a title not reported elsewhere. The character of “Rooster Cogburn” originated in the 1968 novel True Grit by Charles Portis, which was released as a feature film in 1969 by Paramount under the same title, directed by Henry Hathaway (see below). John Wayne reprised his role from the earlier film as the aging but wily one-eyed U. S. Deputy Marshal. Jim McIntire replaced James Westerfield in the role of “Judge Parker,” and Tommy Lee stepped into the role of “Chen Lee” taking over from H. W. Gim. Strother Martin, who has the brief role off ferry captain “Shanghai McCoy,” appeared in True Grit as another character. Closing credits include an onscreen appreciation for the U. S. Department of Agriculture, the United States Forest Services and the U. S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management. According to onscreen closing credits, Rooster Cogburn was shot on location in Oregon in the Deschutes National Forest and the Rogue River. Rooster Cogburn marked the only appearance by Hollywood icons Wayne and Katharine Hepburn in a film together.
       According to papers in Special Collections at the AMPAS Library, western novelist Clair Huffaker filed suit against producer Hal B. Wallis and Universal for breach of contract. The outcome of the suit has not been determined. Other information from the Wallis files indicates that various directors were considered, including Lamont Johnson, Dick Richards, Dick Fleischer, John Avildson and John Boorman. Although a deal was offered to Richards, when he delayed his decision, ... More Less

One review refers to the film as Rooster Cogburn (and the Lady) , a title not reported elsewhere. The character of “Rooster Cogburn” originated in the 1968 novel True Grit by Charles Portis, which was released as a feature film in 1969 by Paramount under the same title, directed by Henry Hathaway (see below). John Wayne reprised his role from the earlier film as the aging but wily one-eyed U. S. Deputy Marshal. Jim McIntire replaced James Westerfield in the role of “Judge Parker,” and Tommy Lee stepped into the role of “Chen Lee” taking over from H. W. Gim. Strother Martin, who has the brief role off ferry captain “Shanghai McCoy,” appeared in True Grit as another character. Closing credits include an onscreen appreciation for the U. S. Department of Agriculture, the United States Forest Services and the U. S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management. According to onscreen closing credits, Rooster Cogburn was shot on location in Oregon in the Deschutes National Forest and the Rogue River. Rooster Cogburn marked the only appearance by Hollywood icons Wayne and Katharine Hepburn in a film together.
       According to papers in Special Collections at the AMPAS Library, western novelist Clair Huffaker filed suit against producer Hal B. Wallis and Universal for breach of contract. The outcome of the suit has not been determined. Other information from the Wallis files indicates that various directors were considered, including Lamont Johnson, Dick Richards, Dick Fleischer, John Avildson and John Boorman. Although a deal was offered to Richards, when he delayed his decision, Stuart Millar was assigned to the film.
       Several reviews mentioned similarities between Rooster Cogburn and The African Queen , a 1952 United Artist release, starring Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart (see above). In that film, Hepburn also played a missionary spinster whose brother is killed, forcing her to take up with a cantankerous, hard-drinking captain of a small boat. Both The African Queen and Rooster Cogburn feature a dramatic sequence on river rapids. The Wallis papers indicate that the similarities were intentional and incorporated early on in screenplay drafts. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
15 Oct 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Sep 1974
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 1974
p. 24.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Oct 1975
p. 3, 10.
Los Angeles Times
17 Oct 1975
Section IV, p. 1, 18.
New York Times
18 Oct 1975
p. 22.
Variety
15 Oct 1975
p. 26.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d unit asst
Asst trainee
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit photog
Cam op
Cam op
Cam asst
Cam asst
Cam asst
Projectionist
Gaffer
Best boy
Lamp op
Lamp op
Generator
Key grip
Key grip
2d grip
2d grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Props
2d unit props
Asst prop
Construction coord
Construction foreman
Construction
Construction
Construction
Construction
Construction
Painter
Painter
Greensman
Greensman
Leadman
Swingman
Drapery
COSTUMES
Miss Hepburn's ward by
Men`s cost
Ward
MUSIC
SOUND
Boom man
Cableman
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Titles & Opt eff
MAKEUP
Cosmetics by
Makeup
Makeup
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Scr supv
Auditor
Payroll
Casting
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Mr. Wayne's driver
Ramrod
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Craft services
Craft services
Mr. Wayne's secy
Ms. Hepburn's secy
Mr. Wallis' secy
Mr. Nathan's secy
Prod secy
Mr. Wayne's trainer
STAND INS
Stunt coord
SOURCES
LITERARY
Suggested by the character "Rooster Cogburn" from the novel True Grit by Charles Portis (New York 1968).
DETAILS
Release Date:
1975
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 17 October 1975
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures
Copyright Date:
17 October 1975
Copyright Number:
LP45468
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
107
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
24170
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the western Arkansas territory, after veteran U. S. Marshal Ruben “Rooster” Cogburn brings in the bodies of several robbers that he was meant to apprehend, Washington’s City’s Judge Parker revokes his badge. Despite Rooster’s protestations that his own deputy was murdered and that he killed the robbers in self-defense, the judge berates Rooster for allowing himself to become slovenly, careless and too quick to kill. Soon after, a shipment of nitroglycerin being transported through the territory by a military escort is ambushed by outlaw Hawk and his band, aided by long-time scout, Breed. Although Hawk and his men believe they have slain the entire escort, one soldier survives and reports the attack to nearby Washington City. Parker then visits Rooster, who lives behind a small general store run by his friend, Chen Lee, accompanied by his orange tabby cat, General Sterling Price. When Parker relates the theft of the nitroglycerin, Rooster is surprised to hear of Breed’s involvement as he worked with the scout for several years. Parker explains that the government is demanding Hawk’s arrest and that should Rooster bring him in alive, he would be reinstated as marshal. Although Rooster initially refuses, when Parker promises a two thousand dollar fee, a posse and the immediate return of his badge, Rooster agrees. As Rooster sets out in search of Hawk’s trail, the outlaw and his men arrive at a small Native American village outside of Fort Ruby. The men begin taunting several of the young Indian men, prompting missionary George Goodnight and his spinster daughter Eula, who have been teaching the native children, to intervene. Unnerved ... +


In the western Arkansas territory, after veteran U. S. Marshal Ruben “Rooster” Cogburn brings in the bodies of several robbers that he was meant to apprehend, Washington’s City’s Judge Parker revokes his badge. Despite Rooster’s protestations that his own deputy was murdered and that he killed the robbers in self-defense, the judge berates Rooster for allowing himself to become slovenly, careless and too quick to kill. Soon after, a shipment of nitroglycerin being transported through the territory by a military escort is ambushed by outlaw Hawk and his band, aided by long-time scout, Breed. Although Hawk and his men believe they have slain the entire escort, one soldier survives and reports the attack to nearby Washington City. Parker then visits Rooster, who lives behind a small general store run by his friend, Chen Lee, accompanied by his orange tabby cat, General Sterling Price. When Parker relates the theft of the nitroglycerin, Rooster is surprised to hear of Breed’s involvement as he worked with the scout for several years. Parker explains that the government is demanding Hawk’s arrest and that should Rooster bring him in alive, he would be reinstated as marshal. Although Rooster initially refuses, when Parker promises a two thousand dollar fee, a posse and the immediate return of his badge, Rooster agrees. As Rooster sets out in search of Hawk’s trail, the outlaw and his men arrive at a small Native American village outside of Fort Ruby. The men begin taunting several of the young Indian men, prompting missionary George Goodnight and his spinster daughter Eula, who have been teaching the native children, to intervene. Unnerved by Eula’s stoic calm in the face of his firing several gun shots near her, Hawk withdraws. Meanwhile, Rooster arrives at Bagby’s Trading Post and learns from his friend Bagby that Hawk’s band has been moving slowly with the wagon bearing the nitroglycerin. The next morning when Rooster nears Fort Ruby he comes upon Eula praying over the body of George, who was murdered the night before by Hawk and his men during a drunken rampage on several Indians. After Eula and Native American teenager Wolf bury their respective fathers, Rooster vows to get revenge for their deaths but is taken aback when Eula recites a Bible quote against violence. Rooster then escorts Eula and Wolf to Bagby’s, where he discovers that no posse has arrived. Realizing that Rooster intends to leave her and Wolf with Bagby, Eula refuses, declaring that she must be involved in the arrest of her father’s murderer. Purchasing a Winchester and ammunition, Eula insists upon accompanying Rooster despite his protests. Annoyed when Wolf refuses to let Eula go without him, Rooster grudgingly sets off after Hawk with the woman and boy. Over the next day, Rooster, a former Confederate soldier, and Eula, a Yankee from New England, gradually become acquainted. A few miles away, Hawk and the men struggle to get their wagon, which is also laden with a heavy Gatling gun, to the town of Gold Strike where a large federal gold shipment is expected. Determined to use the explosives to hold up the shipment, Hawk is furious when the wagon strikes a boulder, breaking an axle. Ordering the men to make the repair and meet him in a Gold Strike saloon on the coming Friday, Hawk rides on with Breed. When one of the gang, who had been knifed in an earlier squabble with Hawk, pleads to accompany them in order to find a doctor, Hawk agrees. That same afternoon, riding ahead as scout, Wolf spots the wagon which has laboriously resumed its journey, and reports to Rooster and Eula. Placing a log across the oncoming wagon’s path, Rooster then situates Eula and Wolf above the road and, after instructing Eula how to shoot the Winchester, orders them to fire several rounds upon his command to convince the outlaws they are surrounded by a posse. When the wagon halts and Rooster demands they surrender, one outlaw slips around the hill behind Rooster but Eula shoots him dead. Rooster kills another man pulling a gun, then calls for his “posse” and Eula and Wolf’s gunshots frighten the rest of the men away. After Eula prays over the dead men, she assures the startled Rooster that she, not Wolf, killed his would-be attacker and explains that she learned how to shoot in her girlhood from a former beau. Taking the wagon which Rooster knows will eventually lure Hawk to them, he tells Eula and Wolf his suspicion that Hawk is after the gold shipment. Later while the trio rests, Eula scolds Rooster for charging everything to his government expense account, then lectures him on temperance when Rooster sips a flask of whiskey. Later in private, Rooster gives Wolf a small “pepper pistol” which can shoot five bullets at once. Near Gold Strike, exasperated by the wounded man’s increasing inability to keep up, the impatient Hawk shoots him and he and Breed continue into the town. Finding his men, led by gunman Luke, in the saloon, Hawk is angered when Luke reveals how they lost the wagon to Rooster and his posse. Ignoring Breed’s warning that Rooster is dangerous, Hawk orders the men to accompany him in search of the marshal and the explosives. That night after Eula kills and roasts a wild bird, she and Wolf listen to Rooster’s tales of past gritty clashes with various outlaws. Later, Wolf agrees to sit the first watch, but soon dozes off and is promptly grabbed by Hawk, who demands the wagon of explosives in exchange for the boy. One of the gang hustles Wolf to the camps edge to display him to Rooster, but Wolf shoots the man with the pepper pistol and escapes safely to Rooster and Eula. When Hawk mocks Rooster for having a useless woman and child as a posse, Eula fires the Gatling gun across the hilltop, forcing the outlaws to retreat. Rooster sends Wolf to chase away their horses while Eula hastens to hitch up the wagon. The trio escapes and the next morning find themselves at the edge of a wide river. Ferry operator “Shanghai” McCoy refuses to pilot them across the river and when Rooster proceeds to cut the ferry loose assuring McCoy that the government will reimburse him, the older man warns of rough rapids further downstream. Having caught their horses, Hawk and his gang follow Rooster and, on a bluff overlooking the river, see the ferry with the cases of nitroglycerin and the Gatling gun, proceeding down the river. Spotting a narrow bend some distance beyond, Hawk sends Breed and Luke ahead to find a quick trail there. Reaching the bend before the ferry, Luke places a rope across the water, forcing Rooster to halt the ferry when he reaches it. Just as Luke is about to shoot Rooster, however, Breed shoots Luke. Explaining that he has now paid Rooster back for saving his life long ago, Breed cautions the marshal that Hawk is closing in, and then rides back to the gang. When Breed arrives alone, a suspicious Hawk questions him and, not believing that Rooster killed Luke in a shootout, checks Breed’s pistol. Finding only one bullet missing, Hawk pushes Breed over a cliff. Hawk then leads the gang down to the river to confront Rooster, but, wary of hitting the cases of nitroglycerin, he and the men hold their fire just as Rooster, Eula, Wolf and the ferry get pulled into the churning rapids. Although the cases are tied down, the untethered Gatling gun is washed overboard as is Wolf. Throwing the boy a rope, Eula pulls Wolf back to the ferry. After surviving the rapids, Rooster and Eula contrive a plot to fool Hawk, who is again waiting downstream. Throwing several cases of explosives overboard, Rooster hides behind the remaining ones as Eula calls out her surrender. When the floating cases reach Hawk and his men who have waded into the water, Rooster rises and shoots the cases, blowing up the outlaws. Back in Washington City, Eula pleads for Rooster in front of Judge Parker. After a stern lecture, Parker agrees to allow Rooster to keep his badge. Later, Eula tells Rooster that she is joining several homesteaders who are returning to Fort Ruby. Acknowledging their mutual respect and admiration, the friends wish each other well and, with Eula getting the last word, say farewell. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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