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Topic: Forum DISCUSSION of The 2 TRUE GRITS...
Posted: January 30 2012 at 8:49am By ZKath

I am probably of an age with Netqueen, having grown up in the 1960's.  I'm also from northwest Arkansas, and read Charles Portis' book True Grit before seeing the John Wayne movie when it was released.  It was practically required reading where we lived!  I was too young to fully understand the book, but enjoyed the story. 

Even at the tender age of 10, there was a lot I hated about the JW version.  I hated that the movie was obviously filmed in the Rockies and not the gentle rolling Ozark Mountains of my home.  I hated Kim Darby as Mattie.  She was clearly too old for the part, as well as being a terrible actress.  I hated Glen Campbell as LaBoeuf, one of the worst acting jobs I ever saw.  But John Wayne lit up the screen as Rooster.  I can see now that he was basically John Wayne playing John Wayne, but he and Robert Duvall (and Dennis Hopper in a bit part) provided plenty of entertainment for a satisfying movie experience.
Forty years later, the Coen brothers brought their vision to this American masterpiece of fiction.  I was very excited, especially by the casting.  Finally, Mattie being played by an actress of appropriate age!  Jeff Bridges as Rooster!  Matt Damon (be still my foolish heart...) as LaBeouf!  The postscript of Mattie as an adult!
The new version was far better in terms of acting, cinematography, music.  The new version was more faithful to the book in developing the characters of Rooster and Mattie.  And yet, and yet... I was deeply dismayed at the liberties the new version took with the original story.  The Coens made a lot of story changes, added characters and scenes that, IMHO, did nothing for the plot, and took out scenes that I found particularly moving and important in the book. 
I cannot help but compare both versions to the book as well as to each other.  The JW version was more true to the original story than was the Coen version.  Though superior in every other way, the Coen version, again IMHO, made a big mistake messing so much with the story.