Greensboro’s got ‘True Grit’
The ongoing Turner Classic Movies Big Screen Classics Series, presented by Fathom Events and Paramount Pictures, continues May 5 with the 50th anniversary screening of the 1969 Western True Grit, for which the legendary John Wayne won the Academy Award as Best Actor for his unforgettable turn as the booze-soaked, one-eyed marshal “Rooster” Cogburn.
More than 600 cinemas nationwide will host this event, including the Regal Greensboro Grande, located in the Friendly Center in Greensboro. In addition to Sunday’s screening, there will be two encore screenings on May 8.
Based on the novel by Charles Portis and directed by Hollywood veteran Henry Hathaway, who had previously directed Wayne in Circus World (1964) and The Sons of Katie Elder (1965), True Grit follows Cogburn as he accompanies young Mattie Ross (Kim Darby) on a quest for vengeance, to seek out Tom Chaney (Jeff Corey), the outlaw who murdered Mattie’s father.
Joining them on this adventure is an eager young Texas Ranger named La Boeuf (singer Glen Campbell, in his screen debut), and the cast includes a veritable “Who’s Who” of familiar faces, including Dennis Hopper, Strother Martin, Jeremy Slate, John Fiedler, and Robert Duvall, the latter as outlaw leader “Lucky” Ned Pepper, whose showdown with Cogburn is among the film’s many highlights.
Wayne’s only previous Best Actor nomination came in 1949, for Sands of Iwo Jima, but he was bested by Broderick Crawford in All the King’s Men.
His competition for Best Actor in 1969 was nothing if not formidable: Richard Burton (Anne of the Thousand Days), Dustin Hoffman (Midnight Cowboy), Peter O’Toole (Goodbye, Mr. Chips), and Jon Voight (Midnight Cowboy). Although the durable Wayne was seen by many as a sentimental favorite, he was by no means a shoo-in. His outspoken political stance, and the recent release of the much-derided but financially successful Vietnam War spectacle The Green Berets – which he’d directed and starred in – did not necessarily endear him to Tinseltown’s more liberal-minded contingent.
Yet in the end, Wayne emerged victorious – not unlike the crusty Cogburn. The film also received an Oscar nomination for Best Song, and Wayne would reprise his Oscar-winning role in the 1975 sequel Rooster Cogburn, which marked his only screen teaming with Katharine Hepburn. In 2010, the Coen Brothers’ remake of True Grit, which starred Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn and was more faithful to the Portis novel, earned 10 Oscar nominations (including Best Picture and Best Actor) but went home empty-handed. Nevertheless, the Coens’ True Grit was one of their most successful films at the box-office.
TCM Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz will introduce the film and offer closing commentary.
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. © 2019, Mark Burger.
The 50th-anniversary presentation of True Grit will be screened 1 p.m., Sunday at Regal Greensboro Grande, 3205 Northline Ave., with encore screenings noon and 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 8. Admission is $13.34 (general admission). For advance tickets or more information, visit the website.