Thursday, January 26, 2017

True Grit: A Further Adventure (1978)

          Hollywood didn’t get the unique tone of Charles Portis’ wonderful Western novel True Grit (1968) right until the 2010 adaptation by the Coen Brothers, but misunderstanding the material didn’t stop filmmakers from putting Portis’ memorable supporting character Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn onscreen three times previous, to varying degrees of success. John Wayne won an Oscar for True Grit (1969), which sanded the book’s rough edges to offer bland entertainment, and he reprised the role in Rooster Cogburn (1975), featuring Katherine Hepburn as a woman who tests crusty marshal Cogburn’s romantic mettle. Paramount, which made the 1969 movie but not the sequel, dredged out Cogburn once more for the mediocre telefilm True Grit: A Further Adventure, this time with character actor Warren Oates playing the role. Presumably owing to copyright issues, True Grit: A Further Adventure ignores the existence of Rooster Cogburn by picking up immediately after the action of the 1969 film, continuing Cogburn’s odyssey as the hired protector of spirited teenager Mattie Ross. (Kim Darby played the role in True Grit, and Lisa Pelikan does the honors here.)
          When Cogburn delivers the body of a fallen friend to the man’s homestead, Cogburn and Mattie discover that the dead guy’s widow, Annie Sumner (Lee Meriwether), has fallen on hard times, forcing her three sons to seek work in a rough frontier town where the main business is a mine. Moreover, because Cogburn lost his traveling money in a card game, he, too, needs work. That’s how Mattie ends up trapped in the frontier town with him. Cogburn discovers corruption while teaching life lessons to the Sumner boys, and eldest son Christopher Sumner (Jeff Osterhage) develops a thing for the willful Mattie, who uses her fierce personality and quick wit to help Cogburn secure a lucrative job as a bounty hunter. The story then ventures into beats echoing the plot of both Portis’ original novel and the 1969 movie, with Cogburn and Mattie chasing varmints to a remote hideout. Although the script for True Grit: A Further Adventure is adequate on a moment-to-moment basis, the episodic storyline never adds up to much, and the pacing is sluggish. Although most of the supporting performances are drab, Pelikan gets points for making her version of Mattie thornier than Darby’s interpretation. As for Oates, he’s as wonderful as always, grubby and rural and salty, but the film’s antiseptic style keeps him on too tight a leash.

True Grit: A Further Adventure: FUNKY

1 comment:

Guy Callaway said...

This feels like it was meant as a pilot for a T.V. series.