Hold onto your hat! True Grit is turning 50 with a two-day engagement right back where the film belongs—on the big screen.
Written by Jenn Thornton
Too good to be true? Not the John Wayne classic True Grit, which has only gotten better. For his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn, the bad-mannered, eye-patched U.S. Marshall who meets his match in Mattie Ross, the willful young girl who hires him to find the outlaw who murdered her father, the Duke was endowed his first (and somehow only) Oscar for Best Actor. Now, this tentpole Hollywood picture marks its golden 50th anniversary with a marquee event.
Part of TCM’s Big Screen Classics Series, this presentation of True Grit from Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies and Paramount Pictures, is as epic as the film itself. Fans of the definitive Western (and there are millions across the world) can watch the film as it was meant to be seen—in all its glory, but for two days only: May 5 (at 1PM and 4PM local time) and May 8 (at 12PM and 7PM local time). True Grit will play in more than 600 movie theaters, and TCM Primetime Host Ben Mankiewicz will provide special opening and closing commentary at each screening.
True Grit is “an incredible piece of entertainment that has more than just an iconic John Wayne performance—it’s a tremendous adventure and an unforgettable story about a uniquely American kind of determination,” says Tom Lucas of Fathom Events. “The Western is a little-seen movie genre anymore, and we’re very excited to be bringing one of the best ever made back to movie theaters around the country.”
This rare opportunity to see the Henry Hathaway-directed masterwork, which co-stars Glen Campbell and Kim Darby, and features Robert Duvall and Dennis Hopper, grants a new generation a first look of the 1969 version of True Grit, which the Coen Brothers’ remade in 2010. In addition to the movie’s themes of justice and loyalty, as well as its script (based on the book by Charles Portis) and its sweep, True Grit introduced one of the most complex antiheros in the history of American cinema. Rooster Cogburn, while uncouth and morally ambiguous, is entirely human, capable of both brutality and bravery—a man with “true grit,” as Mattie puts it. From her experience with Cogburn, she learns about courage.
In the boots of rascal Rooster Cogburn, Wayne cuts a towering figure of Paul Bunyan-sized proportions. And yet his stature does not overshadow his enduring performance. Wayne showed Rooster aging in ways that men do, not always the most attractively, but with the years of experience under his belt. Pivotally, the role proved Wayne as more than a superstar. He gave Cogburn a comic and human nuance not customary in the good guy-bad guy way of lesser Hollywood westerns, calling to mind his earlier work in films like The Quiet Man. Still, when Rooster says, “Baby sister, I was born game and I intend to go out that way,” it’s trademark Wayne, and always great to hear the old man crow. To purchase tickets, visit FathomEvents.com or visit participating theater box offices.