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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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?
- In theaters: June 11, 1969
- On DVD or streaming: March 21, 2000
- Cast: John Wayne, Glen Campbell, Kim Darby, Robert Duvall
- Director: Henry Hathaway
- Studio: Wallis-Hazen
- Genre: Western
- Topics: Adventures, Book Characters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, History
- Character Strengths: Perseverance
- Run time: 128 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Awards/Honors: Academy Award, Golden Globe
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