True Grit (1969)

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
True Grit (1969) Movie Poster Image
Classic Western has memorable characters, some gun violence.
  • G
  • 1969
  • 128 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Bonds of loyalty, trust, and affection can come from unexpected places, especially if you give people the chance to prove themselves. They're often capable of more than you think, so don't judge too soon (except the bad guys, who get what's coming to them).

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mattie is smart, brave, won't give up even in the worst circumstances, and can more than hold her own against older, intimidating, and even villainous men. Rooster Cogburn is gruff and a heavy drinker, but once you've earned his respect and trust, there's nothing he wouldn't do for you. At first La Boeuf seems to care only about his own interests, but he learns to work together with the others and proves his utmost loyalty in the end.


Lots of gunfights with little gore or blood. Red stains visible on clothing a few times, and blood from a head injury is visible in an extended action scene. Fingers being chopped off is shown very briefly with a little blood and no other gore. A man whips a teen girl with a switch over her clothing. An important character dies. A public hanging shows dangling legs from below the gallows. A man shoots a rat. The dead rat and later a dead turkey are shown but it's not gory. An exhausted, sweaty horse collapses. Characters in peril from rattlesnakes, being bitten by a rattler, and falling into a pit where a skeleton is seen. Good guys make plans to kill bad guys.


La Boeuf says he thought about kissing Mattie but might just spank her instead.


"Bastard," "damn," and "son of a bitch."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Rooster Cogburn frequently drinks from jugs or bottles, sometimes slurs his speech, and once falls off his horse. Mattie disapproves, declines to drink herself, and tries various ways to get him to stop drinking. A brief scene takes place in a saloon with gambling on cards and lots of alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that True Grit (1969) is a classic American Western. There's lots of gunfights, no gore, but bloodstains and bloody fingers are shown briefly. There's some suspense and scariness when the main characters are in danger. Strong language is rare: "bastard," "damn," and "son of a bitch." A man mentions he thought about kissing a teen girl. Rooster Cogburn frequently drinks alcohol; Mattie disapproves and tries to get him to stop. The good guys are good role models for loyalty, friendship, and not giving up when the going gets tough. It's lighter in tone and less violent than the 2010 remake starring Jeff Bridges. Fine for older kids and up, it's a good introduction to the movie Western, and to what made John Wayne a movie icon.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCaringandAware December 31, 2020

Stereotypes and Racism abound

I wish I had known and been told about the racial stereotypes for persons of Asian culture (John wayne’s “Nephew”), native Americans treated as ignorant and spo... Continue reading
Adult Written bylangston w. June 23, 2020

Good Western Is Fine For Tweens

Parents should know that, though not as violent as the remake, this movie still has the finger-chopping scene, some (mostly) bloodless gun-play, and infrequent... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byMmtoss August 23, 2020

One of the greatest westerns of the 60s

Probably the greatest movies John Wayne. An absolute masterpiece. True Grit tell the story of Matty Ross as she searches in Indian reservation for her father’s... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byLukeCon July 30, 2020

Another Western classic has some violence, succeeds in writing

This classic Western story will satisfy in terms of action, but also satisfies in its writing aspect. Its script is worth noting, as it helps us gain insight ab... Continue reading

What's the story?

Mattie Ross (Kim Darby) needs to find someone with TRUE GRIT to help her track down Tom Chaney, the man who killed her father, so that she can see justice done. She hears that U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne) can get the job done, so she hires Cogburn to set out into Indian Territory to find the villain. Joining their search is Texas Ranger La Boeuf (Glen Campbell), who's also after Chaney for other crimes. The three companions eventually show how much grit they really have, but is it enough to see justice done, and to live to tell the tale?

Is it any good?

This is a classic, old-school, American Western in every sense of the word. True Grit combines action, humor, suspense, fascinating characters, and spectacular landscapes into a movie that celebrates a unique mythology in U.S. history and in movies. After decades as a top box-office draw, John Wayne was finally given a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn. Kim Darby as Mattie is a relatable but remarkable teen who proves her mettle. Big kids and up will enjoy watching her putting her elders in their place as she more than holds her own. It's a great way to introduce a new generation to the Western genre, and to the movie legend known as The Duke.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why Westerns like True Grit were once so popular in movies and on TV. Are they as popular now? Why or why not?

  • What makes Mattie such an unusual character? What do you like about her? Is she a realistic character?

  • What does it mean to have "true grit?" Which characters have it, and how can you tell?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love westerns and adventure

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

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