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True Grit Blu-ray/DVD (1969)

Paramount

Cast: John Wayne Glen Campbell, Kim Darby.

Rating: PG-13

Run time: 111 mins

Genre: Western

Verdict: Beautiful (see rating system)

True Grit, the western that finally landed John Wayne a “best Actor” Oscar after almost 40 years in the saddle is well served by a great new Blu-ray release timed to compete with the new 2010 version starring Jeff Bridges

Don't believe the myth that Wayne couldn't act - he had huge screen presence and a suprisingly good sense of comic timing, which is why there are always some decent laughs in his films, particularly the later ones. Above all, he made it look easy, which it certainly isn't.

"The Duke" deserved an Oscar for several earlier films, among them Red River (1948), Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) and The Searchers (1956) and by the time he made this movie at age 62 must have thought his time had passed. But the role was a beauty, and director Henry Hathaway encouraged Wayne to add some pounds to fit the part of marshall Rooster Cogburn, a tough, whisky drinking rascal who brought in the bad guys dead more often than alive. A distinctive eye patch completed the image of a man who'd seen a fight or two.

Screen newcomer Kim Darby plays Mattie Ross, a teenage girl whose father has been murdered by a ranchhand. She seeks out Cogburn to pursue the killer, but she insists she'll be coming along for the ride to see that justice is done. Cogburn isn't happy, but the money is good. There's an additional incentive: the wanted man has hooked up with Ned Pepper, a notorious outlaw Cogburn has long been pursuing.

Adding friction to the mission is a Texas Ranger (Glen Campbell) who joins up for some reward money and clashes often with Cogburn and Mattie. A good performance from Campbell.

Needless to say, the Blu-ray disc shows the Colorado locations to great effect and there's plenty of action after a bit of a sluggish start to the film. The solid supporting cast includes Robert Duvall and Strother Martin.

The 2007 Special Collector's Edition DVD marked the 100th anniversary of Wayne’s birth, and includes the same four featurettes and commentary on the making of the movie as the Blu-ray. Cast members Glen Campbell and Kim Darby are among those interviewed.

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