Starring John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn
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True Grit takes place in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and in Indian Territory, across the Arkansas River from Fort Smith in what is now Oklahoma. Mattie Ross, the young star of the story, has traveled from Dardanelle, in Yell County, Arkansas, to meet Rooster Cogburn, a U.S. Marshall assigned to Judge Parker's territory in western Arkansas. Mattie has been told by her family's attorney that Rooster Cogburn has "grit," so she is sure that he is exactly the one she's looking for, the man who can track down Tom Cheney, the outlaw who shot and killed her father.
I happen to know a little bit about the Fort Smith, Arkansas, area; that's my neck of the woods. Judge Parker was real and is a very important part of our local history. I know something about the area across the river, too, and I know it doesn't look at all as it's portrayed in the movie, but I decided not to hold that against the makers of this film, which is more than worthy of a spot on my top favorite movies of all time list.
I love the characters in this story. I love Mattie Ross, partly because she reminds me a lot of myself (I think she even looks a little bit like me), and who doesn't love John Wayne no matter what character he portrays, and Rooster J. Cogburn is a character, indeed.
When the True Grit movie remake was released in 2010 I was very anxious to see it, and I liked it, but the John Wayne version is still my favorite. If you haven't seen True Grit starring John Wayne, you must.
The Fort Smith Connection
If you're a fan of either or both True Grit movies, or the novel on which they are based, then you may already know about the real Fort Smith, Arkansas. That's the setting of the story and the city the fictional Marshal Rooster Cogburn called home. Today, Fort Smith is also the home of the soon-to-be-built U.S. Marshals Museum.
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