Jeff Bridges is NOT John Wayne

By Michael Vass | March 16, 2010

They just had to do it. They just couldn’t leave it alone. Hollywood is going for broke and about to ruin a great film because someone thinks they can do it better than the original.

It’s a trip on the revisionist wave that is modern Hollywood. This time around we are going to be treated to a “new” look at John Wayne’s oscar winning performance in True Grit. Likely the film is being redone because most younger movie audiences have never seen the original, which fans of Wayne love. You can include me in the latter.

The original film was released in 1969, based on the novel of the same name from 1968. It featured Wayne, Glen Campbell, and Kim Darby. The basic premise goes, a drifter kills a father in the old 1880 west. His daughter goes to hire a marshal to gain revenge by bringing the man to justice (a trial). The daughter is highly religious and very sheltered. She also is stubborn.

She hires a notorious Marshal by the name of Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne), known for catching criminals as often as killing them. Along the way they meet up with a Texas Ranger after the same man (and the reward for him).

In attempting to capture the fugitive, who has joined a vicious band of outlaws, Maggie learns the meaning of ‘true grit’ and comes to respect Cogburn despite his flaws (an alcoholic and constant use of profanity).

It’s a good film, the following video clip may give you an idea of how the film went. (Yes, that is a very young Robert Duvall)

But the new version, set to come out in December of 2010, won’t be the same story. This time the story will be from the view of Maggie. It will depict a far different view of Cogburn (as played by Jeff Bridges) and the Ranger (to be Matt Damon). It will seek to convey a moral message, and be far more funny at points.

In essence it will ruin the film. Because Bridges is a good actor, but he does not convey the charisma or character of Wayne. Nor does he resemble an image of a world-weary wilderness hardened cowboy.

The same can be said of Matt Damon. he can do action, and drama. He is talented. But he does not convey an image of the old west. Perhaps makeup and the proper scenery can change that view. But I doubt it.

The bottom line is why are they remaking the film? Why must modern directors and movie studios insist on trying to remake classics with the thought that they can do it better? Because they never do. Not in the revisioned Psycho, or Halloween, or Hills Have Eyes, or Speed Racer, or I Am Legened, or Pink Panther, ect. Perhaps lighting strikes once in every 100 tries, like with The Fly, but it is so rare as to not be worth the attempt.

Classics aren’t there to be “improved upon”. Let’s just enjoy them for what they are.

Topics: Movie Previews and Reviews | 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “Jeff Bridges is NOT John Wayne”

  1. Anonymous

    If you knew anything, you’d know that this is a re-adaptation by Joel & Ethan Coen of the novel True Grit by Charles Portis, and was never meant to replace, or one-up, the John Wayne film of the same name.

    Nevertheless, Henry Hathaway’s True Grit was a bore, and there’s hardly anything in it that warrants the kind of sacred importance people have bestowed on it.

    And I’ll admit, it’s fun to pretend John Wayne was God and to blast Modern Hollywood for their obvious blasphemy, but isn’t that more of a watercooler conversation than something to act seriously offended by?

  2. Anonymous

    Also, this notion of “ruining” a film is ridiculous. As far as I know, the studios are not attempting to ruin the 1969 True Grit film stock, but instead make an entirely different film.

  3. M. Vass

    A re-adaptation is a revison, which I clearly stated. I also stated that both versions are based on the book from 1968.

    I have never read the book so I can’t comment on it. But I have seen John Wayne’s performance. And I have no problem stating that Jeff Bridges does not have the on-screen presence of the Duke. Obviously millions of fans continue to agree with me on that opinion of Wayne’s acting.

    A revision, like a remake, is made only because a new director believes they can present something that was not done prior. In that, they are trying to improve on what was done before. The number of remakes and revisioned movies that succeed in this can be counted on one hand.

    And to be clear, when I say ruin, I mean that they will warp and muddy the image future generations will have when they consider the film True Grit. As often happens, the hype and need for this new version to make a return on the investment will swamp media with this new version, minimalizing the older film. If the new version is better (which I doubt) then it is worth it. If not, then it damages the memory and presence of a superior film. That may not be the intention, but that nonetheless is the result.

    I stand by my thoughts, until such a time as this new film proves me wrong. I doubt I will have to change my opinion, but we will see as I like many have been wrong before.

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