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Wednesday, 25 March 2009

COGBURN RIDES AGAIN



I'm not really sure how I feel about the reports that the Coen brothers are to remake True Grit. On one hand I'm always pleased when there's a big budget western in the works and the remake of 3 10 wasn't too bad, if not the equal of the original. But True Grit is such an Iconic John Wayne role.

Ahh well, let's hope and I pity the actor who takes on the Wayne roll - he'll have some mighty big boots to fill.

LOS ANGELES : Following a mixed reception to 2008's "Burn After Reading", the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, are back with "True Grit", the classic movie which earned American screen icon John Wayne an Academy Award.

However, the directors are putting their own spin on the novel by Charles Portis, telling the tale from the point of view of the 14-year-old girl at the heart of the story.

"The book recounts the girl’s story," Joel told the Daily Mail. "In the John Wayne film, she was played older. We want her to be her real age - it’s her story!"

The 1968 novel, as well as the film directed by Henry Hathaway the
following year, focussed on Wayne’s character, the irascible and aging US Marshall Rooster Cogburn, the man whom the girl hires to hunt down her father’s killers. (NOTE - THIS IS UNTRUE. THE BOOK WAS FROM THE GIRL'S POV BUT THE MISTAKE IS IN THE ARTICLE SO I'VE LEFT IT THERE.)

Aside from Wayne, the original movie featured Kim Darby as the young girl, Glen Campbell as one of the lawmen and Robert Duvall and Dennis Hopper as outlaws.

There has been no mention of any of the original cast returning to reprise their roles in the remake.

Producer Scott Rudin, who worked with the Coen brothers on the Oscar winning film "No Country for Old Men", is set to join them once again. The Coens will squeeze in this film before they begin working on their next film, “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union”, based on the novel written by Michael Chabon.

The original "True Grit" spawned two sequels, 1975’s "Rooster Cogburn" and 1978’s "True Grit: A Further Adventure". The latter was a made-for-television follow up of the two films.

14 comments:

Bill Crider said...

How about the actor taking on the Glen Campbell role? That's a tough act to follow.

Ray said...

The trouble with re-makes is that we of an older generation immediately think why tamper with something that doesn't need fixing. Or it's a John Wayne movie and therefore is sacrosanct. Or think it is a case of Hollywood being unable to come up with something new.
All this is true - but.....
True Grit was made 40 years ago - 3:10 to Yuma was fifty years ago.
It is only natural that we will sit in judgment on the remakes - but if we want the younger generations to become interested in westerns and to read our books then maybe these remakes will not be such a bad thing.

ARCHAVIST said...

Note - guys the post is largely culled from an article online - so saying the book concentrated on the Wayne character is not my mistake.

David Cranmer said...

Yeah, this sounds like a mistake. I've always wondered why they always have to remake good movies. Why not take a so-so western and improve on it instead?

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm the same. I can see big budget remakes of movies that have a lot of special effects, but True Grit was a character movie and I don't really think it needs remaking.

Brent Johnson said...

I'm pretty sure you'll barely recognize it once the Coens are done with it. I for one am excited to see their take on a classic western.

G said...

You know, most remakes really bite the big one.

I've yet to see a remake that improves or lives up to the original.

Steve M said...

With so many great western novels out there that have never been filmed why remake, why not make something new? That would hopefully please old and new fans.

ARCHAVIST said...

G - Maybe Oceans Eleven bests the original movie

Craig Clarke said...

I love True Grit (the novel) and think the John Wayne movie doesn't do it justice. Maybe the Coens will be more faithful to the source material. Anything that brings more people to the book (I assume there would be a tie-in edition) is OK by me.

Chap O'Keefe said...

I like Steve M's comment here. Why remake anything? I know of a half-dozen westerns easy, almost completely unknown and begging to be made into movies! Last night I watched Seraphim Falls -- not a remake (far as I know) but a failure to my way of thinking. We have a vengeance theme and a movie-long chase, which are fine elements in a western, but a strong storyline needs to offer more. The main characters in Falls know what is going on between them from the outset; the viewers, however, are fed the explanations in small doses through to the closing scenes, though they can and probably do make their guesses. Subsidiary characters all occupy their own boxes in different parts of the movie -- e.g. the homesteaders, the railroad construction crew. They are never drawn in to become part of the "plot" -- a word I put in quotation marks because really there isn't one. If this movie works, it does so as a spectacle. The settings and photography are excellent. But the story would never work as a novel without a heap of extra work. Suspense an author creates by keeping his readers in the dark about what is really happening doesn't work on the printed page.

ARCHAVIST said...

Chap - what did you think of the ending of Serap Falls? Confused the heck out of me.

Juri said...

Think it as a film version of the novel itself, not as a remake. The novel is so great I can't wait for this. One of the best western novels I've read.

(About remakes: of course they won't remake a mediocre film, since there's no franchise in there. The remakes have to be made from films people recognize and know.)

Chap O'Keefe said...

Gary, I share your reservations about the ending, on which I won't dwell for fear of introducing spoilers. The Seraphim Falls DVD is packaged and promoted as a western. The people who made the movie may have planned it and started it that way, but somewhere along the line they possibly forgot and decided they were making something arty and significant, designed for film festival audiences! The idea is that the "story" becomes other-worldly, surreal. Note, each bunch of characters the chase participants encounter along the way is supposed to represent an element of the Old West, and each is progressively less anchored in the mundane and grim realities of frontier life. By the time we get to Angelica Huston's bizarre character, mysteriously parked with her wagon in the middle of nowhere, we are surely in la-la land. Anything can happen. I suggest that out there in the brilliantly photographed desert, both Gideon and Carver are left wandering to their doom. They are beyond chase and flight. The story, which was little more than chase and flight, is over. As I said, I don't think you'd get away with it in a book. Certainly not in a Black Horse Western!