Oates Makes Grit
Hard living lawman, Rooster Cogburn (Warren Oates), finds himself once again with Mattie Ross (Lisa Pelikan) when he is offered money to escort her across country to Monterey, California where her grandpa lives. Along the way they make a stop off at the home of Annie Sumner (Lee Meriwether) and her sons where he has to break the bad news that her husband Jake was killed. But Cogburn having gambled away all the money the lawyer gave him to take Mattie across country decides to hang around for a bit in a nearby town to earn some money whilst keeping an eye on one of the Sumner boys who is desperate to be like his pa who was a lawman. Meanwhile Mattie sets about trying to change Rooster for the better in her typical forthright manner.
So first things first and this 1978 movie called "True Grit" is not a remake but as the alternative title of "True Grit: A Further Adventure" says is just a further adventure. So ignoring the specifics of a change of actors we have a storyline which sees Rooster on escort duty and ending up sticking around in a town as he needs to raise some cash after gambling all his away. But of course this isn't as simple as that and Rooster finds himself dealing with some bad guys and blackmailers whilst trying to keep an eye out not only for Mattie but also the Sumner boys as he doesn't want to see them go off the rails. He even finds some time to help the widow Sumner who could lose the ranch. The thing is that it is an incredibly generic storyline with nothing to make it stand out or with this being a made for TV movie it feels like something you would find in the likes of "Bonanza" and "The High Chaparral" which isn't bad if you were bought up on these western TV dramas.
But of course the major thing about this "True Grit" is the change of actors and we have Warren Oates taking on the role of Rooster Cogburn. Unfortunately Oates whilst trying to place his own stamp on the character of Rooster Cogburn ends up coming across as quite a generic character and not the hard living one which John Wayne established. On top of that this Rooster Cogburn has the whitest teeth of anyone I have ever seen in a western. As for Lisa Pelikan as Mattie Ross, well Pelikan plays her like a cross between Kim Darby's plucky Mattie and Katharine Hepburn's uptight Eula Goodnight and to be honest it kind of works as at least it is memorable.
What this all boils down to is that this 1978 version of "True Grit" is entertaining in its own right and kind of fun for those who grew up on western dramas such as "Bonanza". But for those who watch expecting it to be up there with John Wayne's "True Grit" are going to end up disappointed.