True Grit (2010)

PG-13 | 110 mins | Western | 22 December 2010

THIS TITLE IS OUTSIDE THE AFI CATALOG OF FEATURE FILMS (1893-1993)
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Directors:

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Writers:

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Cinematographer:

Roger Deakins

Editor:

Roderick Jaynes

Production Designer:

Jess Gonchor
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HISTORY

After the title card the film opens with a Biblical quote (“The wicked flee when none pursueth. Proverbs 28:1”). Voice-over narration by Elizabeth Marvel as the older “Mattie Ross” is heard at the beginning and end of the film. The Coen brothers’ credit reads: “Written for the screen and directed by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen.” The brothers each received an additional credit as producers. Buster Coen, the fifteen-year-old son of Ethan Coen who served as the script supervisor’s assistant, was credited as “Mr. Damon’s abs double.”
       All cast and crew onscreen credits appear in the end credits. The end credits contain an acknowledgement from the producers, thanking: New Mexico Film Commission; The Town of Granger, TX; Omega Cinema Props; Bill Hudson; Suzanne Lindburgh; and Beverly Wood. The end credits state that the United States Post Office in the film appeared “courtesy of the United States Post Office (with Sonic Eagle).” In addition, the end credits reported that the train used in the film was provided by the North Texas Pacific LLC Entertainment Group in association with Historic Reader Railroad and the following individuals: Richard Grigsby, Charles Greathouse, Joe Allen Williams, Steven Greathouse, George Ernst, Everett Leuck and Marty Wolf.
       True Grit is based on Charles Portis’ 1968 best-selling novel bearing the same name, which was condensed and serialized in May-June 1968 issues of Saturday Evening Post . Portis (1933--) was born and reared in Arkansas, the setting of True Grit , his second of five novels. For many years, Portis wrote for the New York Herald-Tribune and became the newspaper’s London correspondent. He has been noted for his archetypal ... More Less

After the title card the film opens with a Biblical quote (“The wicked flee when none pursueth. Proverbs 28:1”). Voice-over narration by Elizabeth Marvel as the older “Mattie Ross” is heard at the beginning and end of the film. The Coen brothers’ credit reads: “Written for the screen and directed by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen.” The brothers each received an additional credit as producers. Buster Coen, the fifteen-year-old son of Ethan Coen who served as the script supervisor’s assistant, was credited as “Mr. Damon’s abs double.”
       All cast and crew onscreen credits appear in the end credits. The end credits contain an acknowledgement from the producers, thanking: New Mexico Film Commission; The Town of Granger, TX; Omega Cinema Props; Bill Hudson; Suzanne Lindburgh; and Beverly Wood. The end credits state that the United States Post Office in the film appeared “courtesy of the United States Post Office (with Sonic Eagle).” In addition, the end credits reported that the train used in the film was provided by the North Texas Pacific LLC Entertainment Group in association with Historic Reader Railroad and the following individuals: Richard Grigsby, Charles Greathouse, Joe Allen Williams, Steven Greathouse, George Ernst, Everett Leuck and Marty Wolf.
       True Grit is based on Charles Portis’ 1968 best-selling novel bearing the same name, which was condensed and serialized in May-June 1968 issues of Saturday Evening Post . Portis (1933--) was born and reared in Arkansas, the setting of True Grit , his second of five novels. For many years, Portis wrote for the New York Herald-Tribune and became the newspaper’s London correspondent. He has been noted for his archetypal American characterizations, his feel for the linguistics of the South and his deadpan humor. His character, Mattie Ross, has been compared by some literary scholars to classic American writer Mark Twain’s “Huck Finn.” According to studio production notes, actor Barry Pepper, who portrayed “Lucky Ned Pepper” in the Coen brothers’ film, likened the dialog in Portis’ work to “cowboy poetry done by Shakespeare.”
       According to the National Park Service website’s Fort Smith, AR page (www.nps.gov), Portis claimed that the character of Rooster was a compilation of historical figures. However, a minor character in the film, “Judge Parker “ (Jake Walker), was based on the real Isaac C. Parker (1838—1896), who was known as “the hanging judge” and who presided over the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas for twenty-one years. According to the film’s production notes, the story’s sequence in which Mattie falls into a snake pit may have been inspired by the actions of Deputy U. S. Marshal John Spencer of Fort Smith, AR, who collected evidence from a snake pit in order to win the 1883 conviction of a double murderer and horse thief.
       In 1969, a film based on the novel was produced by Hal B. Wallis and distributed by Paramount. That film, which was directed by Henry Hathaway and also titled True Grit (see entry), starred John Wayne, whose performance won his only Academy Award for Best Actor, and Glen Campbell and Kim Darby.
       Forty years later, the Coens became interested in making another film based on Portis’ novel. According to the film’s studio production notes, they were drawn to the project because of the irrepressible character of Mattie and her coming-of-age story told as part of a tale of revenge. According to a 23 Mar 2009 DV news item announcing the Coens’ plan to make the film, the brothers reported that they planned to follow Portis’ book more closely than the 1969 film, which had been a showcase for Wayne. The same article reported that the project originated at DreamWorks when the studio was in partnership with Paramount, but because True Grit was originally part of Paramount’s film library, the property remained with that studio when its relationship with DreamWorks ended.
       The Coens version, like the book, tells the story from the point of view of Mattie and follows her into middle age. As in the novel but unlike the 1969 film, the 2010 picture ends after Rooster’s death. As noted in the DV review, Rooster, as written by Portis for the book, was in his forties, but in both film versions the character is portrayed by actors in their sixties.
       As mentioned in several reviews, the Coens’ film retains some of Mattie’s nineteenth-century Presbyterian outlook and is faithful to the novel in its depiction of the amputation of Mattie’s arm, which was omitted in the 1969 film. As noted in several reviews, thirteen-year-old Hailee Steinfeld, who portrays Mattie in the Coens’ version, was about the same age as the character in the book, unlike Kim Darby, who was twenty when she portrayed Mattie in the 1969 film. Although Texas Ranger “La Boeuf” (as portrayed by Campbell) dies in the 1969 film, in the Coens’ version, as well as the book, La Boeuf (Matt Damon) remains alive. The sequence in which La Boeuf leaves Mattie and Rooster was written by the Coens and not in the book or the earlier film.
       According to the production notes, the Coens knew from the beginning that they wanted Jeff Bridges, who worked with them on The Big Lebowski (see entry), for the role of Rooster. However, a nation-wide search was conducted to find the right actress to portray Mattie, as her character was key to the success of the film. According to a 12 Jan 2011 HR news item, over fifteen thousand girls were auditioned via video submissions and open casting calls were held in Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, as well as several major cities in other states, for a twelve to seventeen-year-old girl who was “sassy, fearless and sure of herself.” Eventually, according to the production notes, they found Steinfeld, who had appeared on television but marked her feature film debut with True Grit .
       The production notes stated that costume designer Mary Zophres, who researched nineteenth-century clothing at the Western Research Library and Fort Smith Historical Society, chose for Mattie a wide-brimmed Stetson “Boss of the Plains” style hat that was popular in Texas during the 1870s. Zophres learned that Texas Rangers of that era did not wear uniforms, so she dressed the dandified La Boeuf in a fringed buckskin coat. In the production notes, Zophres reported that the hardest costume to design and build was for a minor character, a bearskin clad, vagabond healer who Rooster and Mattie encounter on the trail and who, when first seen, appears to be a bear riding a horse. According to a 3 Feb 2011 LAT article, the costume made for Ed Lee Corbin, the six foot four inch actor who portrayed the “Bear man,” was pieced together from a bearskin rug and four bear skins bought from a taxidermist in Albuquerque, NM. In the production notes, Zophres states that facial hair was a sign of virility during the era of the film's story and that all male actors grew beards and/or mustaches for their roles. The production notes reported that the Coens allowed Bridges to choose the eye on which he would wear the eye patch and, as noted in the HR review, Bridges covered his right eye, while Wayne, in the 1969 film, covered his left.
       Portions of the film were shot in various locations in Texas and New Mexico. In a 10 Feb 2011 DV news item, cinematographer Roger Deakins stated that they scouted “wild places” in Utah, but decided the area would not work during the months of Mar and Apr when shooting would take place. According to the production notes, the agricultural community of Granger, TX was chosen to depict the nineteenth-century Fort Smith, AR, because of its wide streets, post-Civil War era brick buildings and historic train tracks running through town. The production notes stated that some visual effects were used to transform the town, and that the horse-trading sequence was shot in an auto body shop and the undertaker’s establishment in a gutted building. A Victorian home was used to depict a boarding house in which Mattie stays in Fort Smith.
       The production notes also reported that the following locations were used for filming: Rooster’s bedroom in Fort Smith was built on a soundstage in Santa Fe, NM. A community building in Blanco, TX was used for a courthouse sequence seen early in the film. Bagby’s Outpost was built in Las Vegas, NM and the dugout cabin in which the characters, “Emmett Quincy” and “Moon” (Paul Rae and Domhnall Gleeson, respectively) meet their deaths was built in a box canyon on San Cristobal Ranch in Lamy, NM. The interior of the snake pit in which Mattie falls was built on an Austin, TX soundstage and, according to production notes, was the single biggest set used in the film. However, the exterior was an old turquoise mine on the Charles R Ranch outside Las Vegas, NM. Also located on the Charles R Ranch was the meadow used for Rooster’s iconic charge against four outlaws, as well as the rock ledge from which Mattie and Le Boeuf watched him. To shoot close-ups of Rooster’s charge, special rigs of mechanical horses on crane arms were used, according to the production notes, while stuntmen performed for long shots. According to the production notes, the sequence in which Mattie fords the river on horseback was difficult, because horses are not typically comfortable with water. In preparation for filming, crew members chose the exact location for the crossing, then checked the river bottom for debris.
       In addition to being named one of AFI’s Movies of the Year, True Grit was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Leading Actor (Bridges), Supporting Actress (Steinfeld), Writing based on Material Previously Produced or Published, Cinematographer, Costume Design, Art Direction, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. As noted in a 21 Dec 2010 Var news item, Carter Burwell’s score, which incorporated several nineteenth century hymns, was deemed ineligible for Academy Award consideration because of a rule that disallows pre-composed music. SAG nominated Bridges for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role and Steinfeld for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role. Other plaudits for the film included nominations by the WGA for Best Adapted Screenplay, by the PGA for The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures and by the Art Director’s Guild for Excellence in Production Design for a Period Feature Film. The film was also included on the National Board of Review’s Top Ten Films for 2010.
       The character of Rooster appears in other films besides the 1969 picture. Wayne reprised his role in the 1975 production, Rooster Cogburn (see entry), which was directed by Stuart Millar and co-starred Katharine Hepburn. A television sequel, also called True Grit , starred Warren Oates as Rooster and Lisa Pelikan as Mattie, and was directed by Richard T. Heffron. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
23 Mar 2009
pp. 1, 11.
Daily Variety
3 Dec 2010
pp. 2, 51.
Daily Variety
9 Dec 2010
p. 5.
Daily Variety
10 Feb 2011.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Dec 2010.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jan 2011
pp. 62-65.
Los Angeles Times
22 Dec 2010
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
3 Feb 2011.
---
New York Times
21 Dec 2010.
---
Time
13 Dec 2010.
---
Variety
21 Dec 2010
p. 3.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Scott Rudin/Mike Zoss Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Wrt for the screen
Wrt for the screen
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Splinter unit DP/Op, Austin unit
Cam op
Splinter unit asst photog, Austin unit
1st asst photog
2d asst photog
Film loader
Prod asst
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech, Santa Fe unit
Elec, Santa Fe unit
Elec, Santa Fe unit
Elec, Santa Fe unit
Elec, Austin unit
Elec, Austin unit
Elec, Austin unit
Elec, Austin unit
Chief rigging elec
Asst chief rigging elec
Rigging elec, Santa Fe unit
Rigging elec, Santa Fe unit
Rigging elec, Santa Fe unit
Rigging elec, Santa Fe unit
Rigging elec, Santa Fe unit
Rigging elec, Santa Fe unit
Rigging elec, Santa Fe unit
Rigging elec, Santa Fe unit
Rigging elec, Austin unit
Rigging elec, Austin unit
Rigging elec, Austin unit
Rigging elec, Austin unit
Rigging elec, Austin unit
1st company grip
2d company grip
2d company grip, Santa Fe unit
2d company grip, Austin unit
Grip, Santa Fe unit
Grip, Santa Fe unit
Grip, Santa Fe unit
Grip, Santa Fe unit
Grip, Santa Fe unit
Grip, Santa Fe unit
Grip, Austin unit
Grip, Austin unit
Grip, Austin unit
Grip, Austin unit
1st company rigging grip
2d company rigging grip
Rigging grip, Santa Fe unit
Rigging grip, Santa Fe unit
Rigging grip, Santa Fe unit
Rigging grip, Santa Fe unit
Rigging grip, Santa Fe unit
Rigging grip, Santa Fe unit
Rigging grip, Santa Fe unit
Rigging grip, Santa Fe unit
Rigging grip, Austin unit
Rigging grip, Austin unit
Rigging grip, Austin unit
Rigging grip, Austin unit
Rigging grip, Austin unit
Rigging grip, Austin unit
Rigging grip, Austin unit
"A" dolly grip op
Dolly grip op
Still photog-NM
Still photog-TX
Video assist
Video assist-NM
Video assist-TX
Gen op, Santa Fe unit
Cam by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Supv art dir
Art dir
Graphic des
Illustrator
Draftsperson/Set des
Draftsperson/Set des
Draftsperson/Set des
Concept artist
FILM EDITORS
Assoc ed
Asst ed
Post prod asst
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Lead person
Lead person, Santa Fe unit
Foreperson
Labor foreperson/Tools person, Austin unit
Prop master
Asst prop master
Foreperson, Santa Fe unit
Foreperson, Santa Fe unit
Foreperson, Austin unit
Foreperson, Austin unit
Foreperson, Austin unit
Foreperson, Austin unit
Foreperson, Austin unit
Foreperson, Austin unit
Foreperson, Austin unit
Foreperson, Austin unit
Propmaker foreperson, Santa Fe unit
Props-NM
Props-TX
Tools person/Propmaker, Santa Fe unit
Propmaker, Santa Fe unit
Propmaker, Santa Fe unit
Propmaker, Santa Fe unit
Propmaker, Santa Fe unit
Propmaker, Santa Fe unit
Propmaker, Santa Fe unit
Propmaker, Austin unit
Propmaker, Austin unit
Propmaker, Austin unit
Propmaker, Austin unit
Propmaker, Austin unit
Propmaker, Austin unit
Propmaker, Austin unit
Propmaker, Austin unit
Propmaker, Austin unit
Propmaker, Austin unit
Propmaker, Austin unit
Propmaker, Austin unit
Propmaker, Austin unit
Propmaker, Austin unit
Propmaker, Austin unit
Propmaker, Austin unit
Propmaker, Austin unit
Propmaker, Austin unit
Propmaker, Austin unit
Propmaker, Austin unit
Sculptor, Santa Fe unit
Sculptor, Austin unit
Sculptor, Austin unit
Sculptor, Austin unit
Plasterer foreperson, Santa Fe unit
Plasterer, Austin unit
Const coord
Addl const coord, Santa Fe unit
Const foreperson
Const foreperson, Santa Fe unit
Lead scenic artist
Lead scenic, Santa Fe unit
Set dresser, Santa Fe unit
Set dresser, Santa Fe unit
Set dresser, Austin unit
Set dresser, Austin unit
Set dresser, Austin unit
Set dresser, Austin unit
Set dresser, Austin unit
On-set dresser, Santa Fe unit
On-set dresser, Austin unit
On-set greensperson
On-set greens, Santa Fe unit
Lead greens, Santa Fe unit
Lead greens, Austin unit
Greens, Santa Fe unit
Greens, Santa Fe unit
Greens, Santa Fe unit
Greens, Santa Fe unit
Greens, Santa Fe unit
Greens, Austin unit
Greens, Austin unit
Greens, Austin unit
Greens, Austin unit
Paint foreperson, Santa Fe unit
Paint foreperson, Santa Fe unit
Paint foreperson, Santa Fe unit
Paint foreperson, Santa Fe unit
Paint foreperson, Austin unit
Paint foreperson, Austin unit
Paint foreperson, Austin unit
Paint foreperson, Austin unit
Paint foreperson, Austin unit
Sign painter, Austin unit
Painter, Sante Fe unit
Painter, Sante Fe unit
Painter, Sante Fe unit
Painter, Austin unit
Painter, Austin unit
On-set painter, Santa Fe unit
On-set painter, Austin unit
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Cost supv
Cutter/Fitter
Table person
Cost for Mr. Damon
Cost, Austin unit
Cost, Austin unit
Cost, Austin unit
Cost, Austin unit
Head ager/Dyer
Ager/Dyer
Ager/Dyer, Santa Fe unit
Ager/Dyer, Austin unit
Prod asst
Set cost, Santa Fe unit
Stitcher, Santa Fe unit
Stitcher, Santa Fe unit
Prod asst, Santa Fe unit
Prod asst, Austin unit
MUSIC
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Orchestra cond by
Orchestra contractor
Copyist
Comp's asst
Mus mixed at
Mus scoring mixer
Addl engineering
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Prod sd mixer
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Cable person
Sd des
Sd eff ed
Dial/ADR ed
ADR ed
Dial ed
Foley ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Foley artist
Foley mixer
ADR mixer-LA
ADR mixer-NY
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Puppeteer
Puppeteer
Spec eff coord
Spec eff foreperson
Spec eff foreperson
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech, Santa Fe unit
Spec eff tech, Santa Fe unit
Spec eff tech, Austin unit
Spec eff tech, Austin unit
Spec eff tech, Austin unit
Mechanical horse eff
Mechanical horse eff
Mechanical horse eff
Mechanical horse eff
Corpse creation/Eff make-up
Corpse creation/Eff make-up
Corpse creation/Eff make-up
Visual eff
Managing visual eff supv
Visual eff supv
Sr visual eff prod
Visual eff prod
Digital eff supv
CG supv
Seq supv
Visual eff coord
Visual eff coord
Visual eff coord
Tech coord
Tech coord
Lead compositor
Lead compositor
Compositor
Compositor
Compositor
Compositor
Compositor
Compositor
Jr compositor
Lighter
Lighter
Lighter
Roto & paint supv
Lead roto & paint
Roto & paint
Roto & paint
Roto & paint
Roto & paint
Roto & paint
Roto & paint
Roto & paint
Roto & paint
Roto & paint
Matchmover
Matchmover
Sr eff TD
Eff TD
Eff TD
Eff TD
Sr pipeline TD
Pipeline TD
Pipeline TD
Pipeline TD
Title Des
Title des
Digital opticals
MAKEUP
Dept head make-up artist
Key make-up artist
Key make-up artist
Make-up artist, Austin unit
Make-up for Mr. Damon
Dept head hairstylist
Key hairstylist
Hairstylist, Austin unit
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Addl casting
Addl casting
Casting assoc
Casting assoc
Casting asst
Casting asst
Local New Mexico and Texas casting by
Background casting-NM
Background casting-TX
Background casting asst-TX
Post prod supv
Scr supv
Mr. Damon's abs double
Asst prod coord, Santa Fe unit
Asst prod coord, Austin unit
Travel coord
Supv loc mgr
Loc mgr, Austin unit
Asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr, Santa Fe unit
Asst loc mgr, Santa Fe unit
Asst loc mgr, Austin unit
Asst loc mgr, Austin unit
Prod accountant
1st asst accountant
2d asst accountant
2d 2d asst accountant
Asst accountant
Payroll accountant
Const accountant
Payroll clerk
Post prod accountant
The New Duke
Head horse wrangler
Horse wrangler, Austin unit
Horse wrangler, Austin unit
Horse trainer
Horse trainer
Wild animal trainers
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst, Santa Fe Unit
Prod asst, Santa Fe unit
Prod asst, Austin unit
Exec asst to Mr. Rudin
Asst to Mr. Rudin
Asst to Mr. Rudin
Assoc to Mr. Spielberg
Asst to Mr. Graf-LA
Asst to Mr. Graf-NM
Asst to Mr. Ellison
Asst to Mr. Schwake
Asst to Mr. Bridges
Asst to Mr. Bridges
Asst to Mr. Damon
Asst to Mr. Brolin
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Transportation capt, Santa Fe unit
Transportation capt, Austin unit
Studio teacher
Train coord
Catering by
Catering by
Prod secy, Santa Fe unit
Prod secy, Austin unit
Medic, Santa Fe unit
Medic, Austin unit
Const medic, Austin unit
Craft service, Santa Fe unit
Craft service, Santa Fe unit
Craft service, Austin unit
Craft service, Austin unit
Sr systems admin
Systems admin
Systems admin
Head of bus development
Finance mgr
Facility mgr
Facility coord
Prod asst
Prod asst
Research and clearances
Serious matters
Dailies prod
STAND INS
Mattie's double
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stand-in for Mr. Bridges
Stand-in for Mr. Damon
Stand-in for Ms. Steinfeld
ANIMATION
Anim supv
Anim
COLOR PERSONNEL
Digital intermediate and dailies by
Supv digital colorist
Digital intermediate prod
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel True Grit by Charles Portis (New York, 1968) and the serialized story of the same name in Saturday Evening Post (May—Jun 1968).
SONGS
"Leaning on the Everlasting Arms," written by Elisha A. Hoffman and Anthony J. Showalter
"The Glory-Land Way," written by J. S. Torbett
"Hold to God's Unchanging Hand," written by Franklin L. Eiland
+
SONGS
"Leaning on the Everlasting Arms," written by Elisha A. Hoffman and Anthony J. Showalter
"The Glory-Land Way," written by J. S. Torbett
"Hold to God's Unchanging Hand," written by Franklin L. Eiland
"Talk About Suffering," traditional
"What a Friend We Have in Jesus," written by Charles C. Converse
"Leaning on the Everlasting Arms," written by Elisha A. Hoffman and Anthony J. Showalter, performed by Iris DeMent, courtesy of Flariella Records.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
22 December 2010
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 22 December 2010
Production Date:
22 March--27 April 2010
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
22 December 2010
Copyright Number:
PA1712295
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Digital; dts; SDDS Sony Dynamic Digital Sound in selected theatres
Color
Deluxe
Lenses/Prints
Kodak Motion Picture Film
Duration(in mins):
110
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
46488
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

One winter around 1878, strong-willed, fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross of Yell County travels to Fort Smith, AR to retrieve the corpse of her father who was killed by his hired hand, Tom Chaney, during a horse-buying trip. Although Chaney has fled into Choctaw territory beyond the jurisdiction of Fort Smith’s sheriff, Mattie is intent that the murderer receives retribution for her father’s death. After shrewd negotiations with horse trader, Col. Stonehill, Mattie obtains compensation for her family’s two horses that were stolen by Chaney from Stonehill’s stables and she sells back all the Mustang ponies bought by her father, except one, which she keeps for herself and names “Little Blackie.” She then inquires about hiring a deputy marshal to track down Chaney. Although three marshals are suggested to her, Mattie determines that the middle-aged, one-eyed, alcohol-sodden Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn is the best person for her purpose because of his reputation for an unrelenting lack of pity toward his quarry. Offering money from the sale of the ponies, she tells Rooster that he has “true grit,” and asks him to help her bring Chaney to justice. At first Rooster brushes her aside, but she stubbornly persists until he agrees. Meanwhile, La Boeuf, a Texas Ranger who has been pursuing Chaney for the killing of a Texas senator, has tracked the fugitive as far as Fort Smith and asks to partner with Rooster. La Boeuf offers his knowledge of Chaney, who he has pursued for several months, in exchange for Rooster’s knowledge of Indian Territory. Mattie is obstinately against La Boeuf ‘s participation in their search, because she wants to see Chaney hanged in Arkansas for her father’s murder and ... +


One winter around 1878, strong-willed, fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross of Yell County travels to Fort Smith, AR to retrieve the corpse of her father who was killed by his hired hand, Tom Chaney, during a horse-buying trip. Although Chaney has fled into Choctaw territory beyond the jurisdiction of Fort Smith’s sheriff, Mattie is intent that the murderer receives retribution for her father’s death. After shrewd negotiations with horse trader, Col. Stonehill, Mattie obtains compensation for her family’s two horses that were stolen by Chaney from Stonehill’s stables and she sells back all the Mustang ponies bought by her father, except one, which she keeps for herself and names “Little Blackie.” She then inquires about hiring a deputy marshal to track down Chaney. Although three marshals are suggested to her, Mattie determines that the middle-aged, one-eyed, alcohol-sodden Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn is the best person for her purpose because of his reputation for an unrelenting lack of pity toward his quarry. Offering money from the sale of the ponies, she tells Rooster that he has “true grit,” and asks him to help her bring Chaney to justice. At first Rooster brushes her aside, but she stubbornly persists until he agrees. Meanwhile, La Boeuf, a Texas Ranger who has been pursuing Chaney for the killing of a Texas senator, has tracked the fugitive as far as Fort Smith and asks to partner with Rooster. La Boeuf offers his knowledge of Chaney, who he has pursued for several months, in exchange for Rooster’s knowledge of Indian Territory. Mattie is obstinately against La Boeuf ‘s participation in their search, because she wants to see Chaney hanged in Arkansas for her father’s murder and he wants Chaney tried in Texas where bounty money is offered. Mattie also insists that she accompany Rooster and Le Boeuf on the chase, but when she shows up at the appointed time to meet them, she discovers they have left without her. She follows them and, when refused a ride on a ferry, stubbornly fords the river on horseback. When she catches up, La Boeuf is annoyed by her feistiness and whips her until Rooster forces him at gunpoint to stop. As they travel, Rooster and La Boeuf constantly bicker and compete with each other, prompting La Boeuf to terminate their partnership and ride off alone. Mattie and Rooster continue riding to Bagby’s, a remote trading post, where they learn that someone, possibly one of Lucky Ned Pepper’s outlaw gang, recently bought supplies there and paid with a rare California gold piece that Mattie recognizes was stolen by Chaney from her father. Rooster points out that it is unclear whether Chaney has joined the gang or if the gang robbed and killed him. Guessing that the gang went north and that Chaney may be with them, Rooster and Mattie follow. Along the way, they encounter a rustic healer wearing a bearskin who directs them to a dugout cabin where they can spend the night. At the cabin they find Emmett Quincy and young Moon, who is suffering from an untreated gunshot wound. When asked about Chaney and Pepper, Quincy feigns ignorance, but Moon, who wants medical attention promised by Rooster, confirms that the gang was at Bagby’s two days earlier. To stop Moon from talking, Quincy chops off his fingers then throws a knife, mortally wounding him, and Rooster shoots Quincy dead. Before dying, Moon relates that Pepper’s gang is expected at the dugout that night. Rooster and Mattie lie in wait for the outlaws, but it is La Boeuf who arrives first. Before La Boeuf can be warned, the gang captures him with a lasso and drags him behind a horse. Rooster shoots several of the outlaws, and in the exchange of gunfire during which at least one outlaw escapes, La Boeuf bites his tongue and is shot in the shoulder, possibly by one of Rooster’s bullets. The next day, Rooster, Mattie and La Boeuf ride to a mine where they expect Pepper may take refuge, but instead find it deserted. Rooster’s drinking and his quarreling with La Boeuf cause the lawmen to again part ways. As La Boeuf prepares to leave them, Mattie asks to go with him, as she now believes she chose the wrong man for her mission. The dejected La Boeuf, however, says that the trail is cold and he is returning to Texas. The next morning, Mattie goes to the river for water and unexpectedly encounters Chaney. Armed with her father’s old gun, she tries singlehandedly to arrest him, but Chaney refuses to cooperate. She shoots, superficially wounding him, and the sound of the report alerts Rooster, as well as Pepper and other members of his gang. Pepper abducts Mattie and, threatening to kill her, calls out to Rooster to leave the area. After they are certain that Rooster is far away, the gang prepares to move on, but because they are short on horses, Chaney is left with Mattie until a horse can be sent to him. Pepper threatens to withhold Chaney’s pay if Mattie is harmed, but Chaney tries to kill her after the gang leaves. Responding to the sound of Mattie’s gunshot, La Boeuf arrives and knocks Chaney unconscious. From their location on a rock ledge, La Boeuf and Mattie can see Rooster in a clearing far in the distance. On horseback, Rooster faces off with Pepper and three gang members. Charging at them with his reins in his mouth and shooting guns with both hands, Rooster kills three of the men, but his horse is shot out from under him, pinning him to the ground. Although Pepper is wounded and possibly dying, he takes advantage of Rooster’s inability to move and aims to shoot him. However, from the rock ledge, La Boeuf shoots his high-powered Carbine rifle, killing Pepper before he can harm Rooster. Meanwhile, Chaney regains consciousness while Mattie’s and La Boeuf’s attentions are diverted and temporarily knocks out La Boeuf. Grabbing La Boeuf’s rifle, Mattie shoots Chaney, but the recoil knocks her backward into a snake pit, where she is bitten in the arm by a rattlesnake. Arriving soon after, Rooster climbs into the pit to get Mattie and La Boeuf pulls them out. La Beouf remains with Chaney’s body until Rooster can send help to him, but Rooster, aware that Mattie’s condition is critical, carries her in his arms and, on Little Blackie, races off for a doctor. After passing the outlaw’s corpses strewn along the meadow, Rooster and Mattie ride for hours, into the wintery night. As snow falls and Mattie turns delirious, Rooster pushes the pony beyond its endurance until the animal dies from exhaustion. Rooster then walks the remainder of the distance, carrying her. Breathing hard by the time they get near Bagby’s, Rooster shoots his gun in the air as a call for help and admits to himself that he has grown old. Mattie remains unconscious and, to save her life, her arm must be amputated by the doctor. When Mattie awakens, Rooster is gone, but she learns that he remained with her until he was certain she would survive. For a long time, Mattie does not hear from Rooster, who ignores her offer to pay him the money she owes for his services. Twenty-five years later, Mattie, a spinster and as strong-willed as ever, receives a brief message from Rooster that includes an announcement of his appearance in Cole Younger and Frank James’s Wild West Show. Mattie travels to Memphis where the show is playing, but learns from Younger that Rooster died three days earlier. She takes Rooster’s body home to bury in the Ross family plot. Although she would have welcomed hearing from La Boeuf, she never again sees him. +

Legend
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Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.