True Grit (1969)

G | 128 mins | Western | 13 June 1969

Director:

Henry Hathaway

Producer:

Hal B. Wallis

Cinematographer:

Lucien Ballard

Editor:

Warren Low

Production Designer:

Walter Tyler
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HISTORY

Producer Hal B. Wallis optioned screen rights to Charles Portis’s novel, True Grit, while it was still in galley form, as stated in the 10 May 1968 DV. Two months later, the 10 Jul 1968 DV noted that Wallis and his partner, Joseph H. Hazen, had paid $300,000 for the option and a percentage of the film’s gross, after beating out rival bidders James T. Aubrey and John Wayne’s Batjac Productions. Despite losing the bid, Wayne remained interested in playing the role of “Rooster Cogburn,” which he suspected was written with him in mind, even though Portis denied it, according to the 13 Apr 1969 LAT. The novel was scheduled to be published by Simon & Schuster on 10 Jun 1968, and prior to that, it was set to be serialized in SEP.
       Marguerite Roberts, who had worked on Wallis’s previous Western, 5 Card Stud (1968, see entry), was hired to adapt the script, and Henry Hathway was brought on to direct for Paramount Pictures. The project marked a re-teaming of Wallis, Hathaway, and Wayne, who had worked together on The Sons of Katie Elder (1965 , see entry). Wayne’s salary was not specified in the 13 Apr 1969 LAT, although it stated his going rate “for the last several years” was $1 million plus gross profit participation. Co-star Glen Campbell’s salary was cited in the 11 Aug 1969 DV as $100,000.
       Several actresses in their twenties were considered for the role of fourteen-year-old “Mattie Ross.” The 13 Jun 1968 DV noted that Wayne wanted twenty-eight-year-old Katharine ... More Less

Producer Hal B. Wallis optioned screen rights to Charles Portis’s novel, True Grit, while it was still in galley form, as stated in the 10 May 1968 DV. Two months later, the 10 Jul 1968 DV noted that Wallis and his partner, Joseph H. Hazen, had paid $300,000 for the option and a percentage of the film’s gross, after beating out rival bidders James T. Aubrey and John Wayne’s Batjac Productions. Despite losing the bid, Wayne remained interested in playing the role of “Rooster Cogburn,” which he suspected was written with him in mind, even though Portis denied it, according to the 13 Apr 1969 LAT. The novel was scheduled to be published by Simon & Schuster on 10 Jun 1968, and prior to that, it was set to be serialized in SEP.
       Marguerite Roberts, who had worked on Wallis’s previous Western, 5 Card Stud (1968, see entry), was hired to adapt the script, and Henry Hathway was brought on to direct for Paramount Pictures. The project marked a re-teaming of Wallis, Hathaway, and Wayne, who had worked together on The Sons of Katie Elder (1965 , see entry). Wayne’s salary was not specified in the 13 Apr 1969 LAT, although it stated his going rate “for the last several years” was $1 million plus gross profit participation. Co-star Glen Campbell’s salary was cited in the 11 Aug 1969 DV as $100,000.
       Several actresses in their twenties were considered for the role of fourteen-year-old “Mattie Ross.” The 13 Jun 1968 DV noted that Wayne wanted twenty-eight-year-old Katharine Ross, with whom he had recently worked on Hellfighters (1968, see entry), to play the part, and she was enthusiastic about the project after reading Portis’s novel. Weeks later, the 1 Jul 1968 DV named Mia Farrow as the top contender, and stated that the fictional Mattie would now be portrayed as an eighteen-year-old. Genevieve Bujold claimed in the 29 Oct 1969 Var that she had been offered the role, but had refused it without reading the script because she was unwilling to work with Wayne. On 20 Aug 1968, DV announced the official casting of twenty-one-year-old Kim Darby, who was known, at the time, as a television actress.
       Principal photography was set to begin on 5 Sep 1968. Location shooting took place in Ridgway and Montrose, CO, and Mammoth Lakes, CA, according to items in the 2 Oct 1968 DV and 19 May 1969 DV. Production then shifted to the Paramount Pictures studio lot in Hollywood, CA, where filming was underway as of mid-Dec 1968.
       While the picture was still being shot, the 18 Dec 1968 Var reported that Paramount had already received several “reverse blind bid” offers from exhibitors, hoping to secure the film for showings at their theaters, presumably based on the popularity of John Wayne and the success of his recent pictures, El Dorado (1967, see entry) and The Sons of Katie Elder. The item noted that such bidding was not “quite within the jurisdiction of the Justice Dept. which slapped down studio-domination of distribution-exhibition some decades ago.”
       The following actors were listed as cast members in the 13 Sep 1968 and 2 Nov 1968 issues of LAT : Guy Wilkerson, who was set to play a hangman; J. Delos Jewkes, cast in the role of a minister; Hank Worden, cast as an undertaker; Richard O’Brien; and Andy Davis, Jay Silverheels, and Clyde Howdy, set to play condemned men. In a 12 Apr 1969 item, LAT stated that musician Al De Lory had been enlisted to “arrange, conduct and produce Glen Campbell’s title song” for the film.
       Promotions included sixty-six one-minute radio commercials, recorded by Wayne, Darby, and Campbell, and set to air in the Los Angeles, CA, area. The 26 Feb 1969 Var noted that the radio spots not only advertised the film, but the Signet paperback version of Portis’s novel, slated for release around the same time.
       Prior to the premiere, scheduled for 12 Jun 1969 at the Cinema 150 Theatre in Charles Portis’s hometown of Little Rock, AK, a preview screening was set to take place on 9 May 1969 at the Golden Spike Centennial, a celebration of the 1869 joining of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads, in Salt Lake City, UT. The 30 Apr 1969 Var noted that the preview would occur at the 1,800-seat Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake.
       True Grit was initially rated “M” (for mature audiences) by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), as stated in the 28 May 1969 Var. However, prior to release, filmmakers edited “four-letter words” out of some scenes, and the picture was re-rated “G” (for general audiences). It opened on 13 Jun 1969 at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, and was met with largely positive reviews. It went on to become a commercial success, taking in $11.5 million in film rentals for the year 1969, as stated in a 7 Jan 1970 Var box-office chart.
       “Rooster Cogburn” was ranked the thirty-ninth hero in AFI’s 2003 list, 100 Years…100 Heroes & Villains. The role won John Wayne his only Academy Award, for Best Actor, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama. Elmer Bernstein and Don Black were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music (Song—Original for the Picture) as well as a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song – Motion Picture. Glen Campbell also received a Golden Globe nomination for New Star of the Year – Actor, the picture was named one of the top ten movies of 1969 by the National Board of Review.
       In 2010, True Grit was remade by filmmaking duo Joel and Ethan Coen for Paramount Pictures (see entry). The re-make garnered ten Academy Award nominations and was named one of AFI’s Movies of the Year. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
10 May 1968
p. 1, 4.
Daily Variety
13 Jun 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 Jul 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
10 Jul 1968
p. 11.
Daily Variety
20 Aug 1968
p. 1.
Daily Variety
2 Oct 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
19 May 1969
p. 3.
Daily Variety
11 Aug 1969
p. 1, 8.
Los Angeles Sentinel
13 Feb 1969
Section B, p. 5.
Los Angeles Times
10 May 1968
Section D, p. 18.
Los Angeles Times
7 Sep 1968
p. 19.
Los Angeles Times
13 Sep 1968
Section D, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
2 Nov 1968
Section A, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
12 Apr 1969
Section A, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
13 Apr 1969
Section S, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
20 May 1969
Section C, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
12 Jun 1969
Section E, p. 1.
New York Times
4 Jul 1969.
---
Variety
18 Dec 1968
p. 24.
Variety
26 Feb 1969
p. 22.
Variety
30 Apr 1969
p. 21.
Variety
28 May 1969
p. 4.
Variety
29 Oct 1969
p. 24.
Variety
7 Jan 1970
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Hal Wallis Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Greensman
Transportation
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel True Grit by Charles Portis (New York, 1968).
SONGS
"True Grit," words and music by Don Black and Elmer Bernstein, sung by Glen Campbell
"Amazing Grace," traditional, arranged by John Newton.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
13 June 1969
Premiere Information:
Premiere in Little Rock, AK: 12 June 1969
Los Angeles opening: 13 June 1969
New York opening: 3 July 1969
Production Date:
began 5 September 1968
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures
Copyright Date:
16 April 1969
Copyright Number:
LP36735
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
128
MPAA Rating:
G
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
22045
SYNOPSIS

In 1880 in Yell County, Arkansas, fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross vows vengeance on her father's murderer, hired man Tom Chaney, who has fled into Indian Territory. Accordingly, she enlists the aid of one-eyed U. S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn and accepts the help of Texas Ranger La Boeuf, who is intent on the reward awaiting the man to capture Chaney for crimes committed in Texas. Despite mutual distrust, Rooster and La Boeuf unite to dissuade Mattie from accompanying them on their dangerous mission. Undeterred, she joins the manhunt. The trio tracks the assassin across the border to the refuge of outlaw Ned Pepper. During a surprise raid on Pepper's hideout, the lawmen kill four of his fellows and find a gold piece once the property of Mattie's father. Alone, Mattie encounters Chaney. Although she wounds him, Mattie is taken hostage by Pepper's band. Fearing for the girl's life, La Boeuf and Rooster pretend to retreat. Armed to the teeth, the two return unexpectedly to rescue Mattie. As Chaney bludgeons La Boeuf, Mattie shoots the fugitive a second time and falls backwards into a snakepit. After slaying Chaney, Rooster, aided by the dying ranger, pulls Mattie from the pit. Discovering that she has been bitten by a rattlesnake, the marshal, himself wounded, rushes the girl to a physician. Recovering from her injuries, the child proclaims to Rooster her wish to be buried next to ... +


In 1880 in Yell County, Arkansas, fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross vows vengeance on her father's murderer, hired man Tom Chaney, who has fled into Indian Territory. Accordingly, she enlists the aid of one-eyed U. S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn and accepts the help of Texas Ranger La Boeuf, who is intent on the reward awaiting the man to capture Chaney for crimes committed in Texas. Despite mutual distrust, Rooster and La Boeuf unite to dissuade Mattie from accompanying them on their dangerous mission. Undeterred, she joins the manhunt. The trio tracks the assassin across the border to the refuge of outlaw Ned Pepper. During a surprise raid on Pepper's hideout, the lawmen kill four of his fellows and find a gold piece once the property of Mattie's father. Alone, Mattie encounters Chaney. Although she wounds him, Mattie is taken hostage by Pepper's band. Fearing for the girl's life, La Boeuf and Rooster pretend to retreat. Armed to the teeth, the two return unexpectedly to rescue Mattie. As Chaney bludgeons La Boeuf, Mattie shoots the fugitive a second time and falls backwards into a snakepit. After slaying Chaney, Rooster, aided by the dying ranger, pulls Mattie from the pit. Discovering that she has been bitten by a rattlesnake, the marshal, himself wounded, rushes the girl to a physician. Recovering from her injuries, the child proclaims to Rooster her wish to be buried next to him. +

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

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