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John Wayne won his only Academy Award for his portrayal of aging U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn in True Grit, a successful Western of the late 1960s also notable as the screen debut of country-pop singer and television host Glen Campbell. Naturally, Campbell sang the title song, written by the film's score composer, Hollywood veteran Elmer Bernstein, with lyrics by British journeyman Don Black. Bernstein was familiar with the Jimmy Webb-style country-pop Campbell was accustomed to singing, and Black, as usual, turned in something serviceable, even given the challenge of inserting a nearly unsingable word like \"grit\" into a lyric. (\"The pain of it / Will ease a bit / When you find a man with true grit.\") The result was a Top Ten country and Top 40 pop hit as well as an Oscar nomination for best song. The soundtrack album, which contains two versions of the song (first the hit single, then the one from the closing credits), like many soundtrack albums, does not actually consist of material drawn straight from the film soundtrack, but rather of suites constructed separately in the recording studio. Unlike many soundtrack albums, however, this one admits to the switch. \"Elmer Bernstein conducts Themes From his Original Score Arranged by Artie Butler,\" reads a statement on the album cover. Butler's arrangements also take contemporary pop writers like Webb and Burt Bacharach into consideration for a set of instrumentals that suggest light pop/rock, as if the album had been made by Henry Mancini or Ray Conniff. In \"A Dastardly Deed,\" for example, an electric guitar is made to sound like a sitar; elsewhere, a single wind instrument carries a melody, Bacharach-style, before it is caught up by horns as drums pound, and then an organ intrudes. None of this sounds much like the Old West, of course, but it does sound like typical easy listening, instrumental pop of the late '60s. And that, along with the hit single, was enough to place this album in the Top 100.
The murder of her father sends a teenage tomboy on a mission of 'justice', which involves avenging her father's death. She recruits a tough old marshal, 'Rooster' Cogburn because he has 'true grit', and a reputation of getting the job done.
Although it doesn't quite live up to expectations, 'True Grit' is still one hell of a fun ride for fans of the genre. Adapted from the novel by Charles Portis, it also earned John Wayne his first and only Oscar for Best Actor in a career that had already spanned four decades. Personally, his portrayal as Ethan Edwards in 'The Searchers' is a worthier choice for such an honor. But it is what it is, and \"Rooster\" Cogburn is one of the Duke's finest and most memorable roles, along with terrific performances by Robert Duvall and Dennis Hopper. Hathaway also gives John Wayne one of the coolest shootouts seen on screen, showing he definitely has true grit. On horseback in a wide open field, gripping the reins in his teeth, holding a six-shooter in one hand and a Winchester rifle in the other. Four against one. Very cool.
Fine object details are attractive and discernible although they don't quite compare to some of the best catalog titles we've seen in the past. Still, textures in clothing are distinct and clear, and the picture displays great clarity and visibility of the beautiful Colorado landscape. There are a few scenes where resolution falters a tad, but overall, the transfer shows fairly good definition for a film already over 40-years-old. Contrast is spot-on, with crisp whites, and black levels are true and deep with strong shadow delineation. Colors are accurately and cleanly rendered with primaries being the brightest of the entire palette.
\"The strangest trio ever to track a killer. A fearless, one-eyed U.S. marshal who never knew a dry day in his life... a Texas ranger thirsty for bounty money... and a girl still wet behind the ears who didn't care what they were or who they were as long as they had true grit.\" 781b155fdc