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Behind-The-Scenes Stories From Both Classic Versions Of 'True Grit'

Updated 31 Jul 2020 6.3k views14 items

True Grit is a story of a tough-talking teenage girl seeking revenge for the slaying of her beloved father. She hires the old, drunken US Marshal Rooster Cogburn to help her. By the time the film came out in 1969, the American Western as a genre had already run its course. These True Grit behind-the-scenes stories depict how both the original Henry Hathaway adaptation and the Coen Brothers' 2010 installment went about breaking the rules to become the perfect revisionist model of the classic Western.

True Grit changes the rules of the genre. There are no classic Western protagonists; there is no higher moral ground where heroes wear white cowboy hats and villains are draped in black. John Wayne was the quintessential American movie Western protagonist. When he took on the role of the cantankerous, morally questionable Cogburn, the juxtaposition of persona helped to earn the Duke his only Academy Award. How dare Joel and Ethan Coen seek to remake such a movie classic, right?

But the Coens never questioned their motives; after all, they live in revisionist movie territory. The filmmaking pair have almost never made a straightforward genre picture. They routinely subvert genre convention while still managing to stay within the model's malleable walls. In this case, the Coens opted to completely ignore the 1969 film. Instead, they used the classic Charles Portis novel as their only source material. From there, in trying to find the right actor for the story's uncommonly complex heroine, the Coens landed on then-unknown Hailee Steinfeld among a sea of 15,000 contenders. And, of course, they convinced Jeff Bridges to take the role made famous by Wayne - and allowed him to wear the eye patch on the "wrong" eye.

Check out all the behind-the-scenes tales of both the original True Grit and its 2010 remake, all in one tidy list.

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