Preview does echo John Wayne 1969. Both are probably equally sad, funny, deathly exciting, memorable, and watchable again and again.
PG-13 (disturbing images, parental guidance for under-13s) seems old fashioned with video games like Hitman available. Obscenities borderline "pencil neck son of a bitch". No romance, but ouch the violence.
Moon's fingers cut-off, half Quincy's bloody face, LeBoeuf gurgling beneath near bit-through tongue (worst, FF fast forward, close eyes), snakes hiss in skeleton, trail of corpses accumulated on her back trail seen in delerium, faithful horse Little Blackie collapses, sacrificed, all agree for adults.
"Leaning in his everlasting arms" oboe and orchestra reverberate soft and sweet while the grandfatherly hero holds and carries her miles to save her life. Once is not enough for this film; I would buy if I bought DVDs. Also, I have requested Charles Portis' based-on book, and John Wayne 1969 version.
In 1875 West, to avenge her father Frank's cold murder and robbery by hired hand Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) 14 sets out in winter, aided by inherited Colt's Dragoon revolver, drunken "old fat" one-eyed Marshal Reuben "Rooster" Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and boastful dandified Texas Ranger LeBoeuf (Matt Damon). Though drunkard of limited vision depth, Cogburn has poise, extensive practical experience, courage, "true grit". Heroine is witty bargainer, knows Latin and law but not guns, grows to respect and believe his reputation.
End has closure with beginning by voice-over from Mattie, same image of coffin into train, same light falling snow. Such details become evident when seen again, increases humor, appreciation, characters, set, costume, foreshadowing (snakes), continuation (storekeeper Bagby), dialogue ("I have previous business" in the jakes), tears, everything - proof of excellence.
Opening quote "The wicked flee whene none pursueth", biblical with "eths" is indeed Proverbs 28:1. "You must pay for everything in this world .. There is nothing free except the grace of God." Reminds us they did speak act believe differently then and there. Like education - where does Mattie learn law "writ of replevin" bargaining for her father's ponies then fireside chats with Ranger, also conversant?
The manner of speech is a catchy combination of old-timey full words rather than contractions, slang, and odd grammar.
sofky = Indian "osafki" ground dried corn bits hominy or (wild) rice stew, meat optional
Any suggestions for meaning of "stickers" in "but about six trees between there and Canada, and nothing else grows but has stickers on it"? My guess is a prevalence of Scotch, Russian tumbleweed, or other thistle weeds with burrs limiting farm cultivation?
"I do not know this man .. (hung high) Possibly in the belief it would make him more dead". "If them men wanted a decent burial, they shoulda got themselves kilt in summer." The clear air, clean outdoors is mostly pleasant, but hints at the hardships of riding. The music over the end credits is hymnal in sweetness, softly unobtrusive in the soundtrack, songs relevant tuneful tearful memorable.
Cogburn "I never shot nobody I didn't have to.. If it ain't loaded and cocked, it don't shoot.. I always go backwards when I'm backing up.. " only accepts Mattie's hire when she hands him $50 reward up front "for expenses". "They tell me you're a man with true grit". LeBoeuf (Matt Damon, all pronounce Labeef as if translated from French) Texas Ranger, has been "ineffectually pursuing" "half-wit" (Mattie's terms) Tom under aliases from Texas for murder there. Mattie catches up for the first night out, but after mutual insults, LeBeouf bids "Adios" (ay-deeose).
Forster (Ed Lee Corbin), heavily bearded medico and tooth extractor, the whole head of a bearskin above his own (Bear Man in credits), in drawn-out syllables, sends them for shelter from a snowstorm to the dugout of "the Original Greaser Bob", but unfriendly occupants order them to "Ride on". When Mattie blocks the chimney to force them out, they shoot through the roof at her. Quincy and leg-shot partner "Kid" Moon cooked up a mighty mess of "shofky" and stock over-much whisky. Threatened with losing his leg and offered good lawyer by Mattie, Moon reacts to description of powder mark gunshot scar on Tom's cheek. Quincy chops off Moon's fingers, Cogburn blows half Quincy's head away. Done for, Moon confesses they expect the Lucky Ned Pepper (Barry Pepper tee-hee) gang Tom is reputed to have joined.
LeBoeuf arrives unexpectedly just before the gang, also sent by Forster, making me needlessly suspicious that he was in disguise, perhaps Tom) disrupting Cogburn's 1 1/2 on seven ambush. "You put a kink in my rope, pardner.. The scheme did not develop as I had planned." Two of dead own a silver mine in Winding Stair Mountains, the next goal. Through snow and desert, LeBoeuf and Mattie discuss Latin legal terms "malum in se", the one-eyed drunkend Cogburn and injured-arm LeBoeuf compete shooting at tossed-up cornbread. Finally in a rainstorm, finding the Parmalee mine empty, Tom gone, Mattie and LaBoeuf mutually apologize for misjudging the other before LaBoeuf leaves.
Fetching water the next day, Tom doing the same, underestimates her, allows her to take the bag out of her pocket, unwrap the gun, even tells her to cock the revolver, and approaches as she shoots him in the leg. Ned likes her, orders psychopathic Tom to stay, no pay if he hurts her. Tom strangles her, stopped by LeBoeuf.
Cogburn takes down three of Ned's four riding in opposition, but falls, helpless until LeBoeuf's long shot takes down Ned. Tom knocks out LeBoeuf. "Even a blow to the head could silence him for only a few short minutes". But Mattie remembers to cock LeBeouf's rifle; the shot knocks Tom over the cliff. Cogburn sucks out her snake-bite venom, carries her to help, stays after her arm cut off, only till out of danger.
She writes to remind of $50. He finally sends her a Memphis Wild West show flyer 25 years later 1903, but she arrives three days after his death. The closing scene is the aged spinster, snow swirling down on a green plain, giving last respects at gravestone where she had his body moved in order to visit.
Special Features encouraged me to watch all over to absorb details more than primary action:
1 Mattie interview. First movie. Made up, curled long hair instead of braids, she seems older. Mother sewed burlap skirt, Salvation Army outfit for audition. Father took her to shooting range before using guns, so knew to pretend kick back absent with blanks on set. Rode English "couple of years ago", so learned Western quickly.
2 Costumes 1875 "Bustles to buckskin". Designer Women long hair, men face hair, more hoops than bustle, no "cowboy hats", mostly worn-out city or Mexican sombreros, Stetson asthmatic son invented 4" brim and crown. Bridges helped choose hat, patch, boots, custom coat, dressed to bulk up. Damon - flashy dandy, only one in all buckskin, spurs, trim hat. Pepper wooly chaps in book too, front angora back leather, custom. Outstanding aging department. Brolin animalistic, costume fits badly as if stolen. Whole cast like composition, voices harmonized, collaboration.
3 Fort Smith set. Granger Texas. Sources b&w, so kept sepia feel. New paint job has to look old. Wide streets for wagons turning. Dirt over cobblestones. Did snow once, rare for real. Hide present-day post office in daily use. Manually pluck leaves from trees for hanging in winter. Wrapped phone pole in bark to fake tree. No plywood. Real legally qualified steam train produces own electricity.
4 Cast. Clips and comments more than hoo-rah praise, synergy. Damon calls lead "imperfectly perfect". "Hilarious" actors and result. Hailee didn't recognize Pepper without broken twisted face make-up.
1 Ten Commandments restored in Blue-Ray 55th anniversary Charles Heston as Moses.
2 Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon 27 July 1969 Moon landing plus extra mission on dark side transformer alien enemies.
3 Thor 3D. highlights action, omits humor and sadness
4 Super 8 boy in small town makes movies with friends, only ones to believe and stop enemy released from army train wreck
5 The Fighter true boxer Micky Mark Wahlberg makes good but brother Dicky Christian Bale goes to jail