By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
Based on the Charles Portis novel, a young girl seeks to revenge herself on the man who killed her father with a steely, hard-bitten U.S. Marshal named Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne) and a smack-talking Texas Ranger (Glen Campbell).
This film is hailed as a classic, and there’s certainly a lot to like about it.Kim Darby does a great job playing the fast-talking, older than her years girl.She’s not intimidated by anything, and isn’t afraid to mix it up with her elders.This is best on display when she out-talks and out-smarts a horse-trader played by Strother Martin.
She’s the man of the house
The dialogue is sarcastic and often hilarious, and John Wayne is obviously having fun playing his crustiest, most down-to-earth character, which is basically a riff on his legendary image more than a full characterization.The performance won him an Oscar, although I think that’s more of a career accolade than anything.His work in Red River, The Shootist, and even She Wore a Yellow Ribbon is much more fully realized, but ignored by the Academy.
Yes, this is a yellow bandana.And?
A final shout-out goes to the pimp flair of the film.In the climatic final shootout, Wayne briefly pauses between filling fools full of lead to reload his Remington like the Terminator before continuing to ruin their day.Robert Duvall, who plays Wayne’s nemesis at one point tells Darby that “I ain’t never busted a cap in no girl before…”
Forget Scarface.Where’s the Duvall merch at the gas station?
This movie isn’t the pitch-perfect classic it has been billed as, though.It suffers from pacing issues that would kill a lesser action/adventure flick.It sags in the middle like a 50-year old accountant, and this time is spent more on a rehash then real character development (we get it… John Wayne likes to drink, Glen Campbell likes to do not much of anything interesting).
(c) 2007 Alexander Whillas
Okay, 60 maybe?
The main issue with the film, though, is the undisciplined direction by Henry Hathaway.He has a bit of trouble mixing the comedy with some very serious themes and events, and the result comes off more light-hearted then it should (the score doesn’t help).It’s not hard to see why the Coens thought that they could improve this.
Good fun, especially if you’re a John Wayne fan, but don’t expect greatness.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a drink: every time Kim Darby outsmarts someone
Take a drink: whenever Glen Campbell does something uninteresting
Drink a shot: every time John Wayne does