Coen Brothers' True Grit remake coming soon
With a sly hipness that is the trademark of Joel and Ethan Coen, a billboard just outside the Melrose Avenue gate at Paramount Pictures promotes their next film, "True Grit," with a promise: "Retribution. This Christmas."It's funny but is it "hipness"?
But other film devotees were less charmed, particularly when they viewed "True Grit" through the filter of Vietnam-era politics and Wayne’s conservative principles -- which he had said were illustrated by a scene in which Cogburn shoots a rat after demonstrating the futility of trying to treat it under due process of law. (The new film has no such moment.)
Writing in The New Yorker, Penelope Gilliatt complained of the movie’s "very right-wing and authoritarian tang." She was particularly put off by the frontier stoicism, which she described as "near-Fascist admiration for a simplified physical endurance of pain"
In The New Republic, Stanley Kaufman said of Mr. Portis’s novel, "Although it was short it was overlong by about a third." The film’s director, Henry Hathaway, he described as "an old workhorse" who "hasn’t had a new idea since the beginning of his career"
President Richard M. Nixon, for whom Wayne had campaigned, apparently felt otherwise, if a snippet of conversation caught by his Oval Office taping system in February 1971 is any measure. Greg Cumming, an archivist with the Nixon Library, said that the audio quality of the tape was bad, but that he could make out Nixon’s discussing "True Grit: with his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman. They talk of someone’s having gone "out in a blaze of glory," according to Mr. Cumming.
Of course, Wayne went on to make about 10 or so more films, including the 1975 sequel "Rooster Cogburn," before his death in 1979.
The Coens said they only dimly recalled having seen the earlier movie when they were young, and they did not watch it in preparing their own. "We didn’t do our homework," Ethan Coen said.
Joel Coen said they were drawn to the underlying book a few years ago after he had "re-read it out loud to my kid."1969 trailer: