Review: True Grit (1969) Blu-ray

1969 True Grit Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Paramount | DIRECTOR: Henry Hathaway | CAST: John Wayne, Kim Darby, Glen Campbell, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper
RELEASE DATE: 12/14/2010 | PRICE: Blu-ray $24.99
BONUSES: commentary, featurettes
SPECS: G | 127 min. | western | 1.85:1 aspect ratio | DTS-HD audio | English, French, Spanish, Portuguese subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

True Grit movie sceneWith the new version of western True Grit hitting theaters on Dec. 22, Paramount Home Entertainment debuted the 1969 original movie on high-definition Blu-ray. And the studio honored the 41-year-old movie well.

Starring the late western legend John Wayne (The Searchers), True Grit is based on the book by Charles Portis. It tells the story of a girl (Kim Darby) who hires Wayne — because he has “true grit” — to find and kill the man who murdered her father, with one condition: He has to take her with him. Along the way, they encounter a number of difficulties, including a man (Glen Campbell) who wants to bring the murderer to Texas to stand trial, so he can claim a reward.

True Grit is the introduction of Wayne’s character of Rooster Cogburn (the role taken over by Jeff Bridges in the remake). It also stars Robert Duvall (Crazy Heart) and Dennis Hopper (Apocalypse Now).

I didn’t see this movie when it was released (I wasn’t born), but I feel confident in saying that True Grit has never looked better than in this Blu-ray version. There’s no sign of scratches or dust, the picture is stunningly clear and the colors are vivid. The sound is equally impressive, with the many many gun shots ringing out of the speakers.

The acting is old fashioned, sure, but the movie still holds up as a good classic.

Western fans also will enjoy the special features on this Blu-ray, although they are the same as on the Special Collector’s Edition DVD released in 2007.

The commentary track with writer/producer Jeb Rosebrooke, author and True West Magazine executive editor Bob Boze Bell and American West historian Dr. Stuart Rosebrook offers interesting information about the making of the film as well as its accuracy for the Old West. They talk about Wayne’s performance in the light that it was done after the actor had had a lung removed. They even discuss the types of saddles that were used in the movie compared to what real cowboys used in the 1800s. And they give information about the score, locations and direction of the film, as well as how the story compared to the original book.

The special features package also offers four featurettes. Made for the 2007 DVD, they all look back on the making of the film, so we get to see actors, including Darby, years later.

The movie is explored most in “True Writing” and “Working With the Duke.” The first looks at the movie adaptation of Portis’ book, while the second is about Wayne.

Fans of the Old West will enjoy the featurette “Law and the Lawless,” which looks at some of the well-known figures from that time, including Billy and Kid and Butch Cassidy.

And “Aspen Gold: Locations of True Grit” takes us to the Colorado county of Ouray and town of Ridgway where the film was shot. Many of the locations are still there, and the locals have embraced their town’s big-screen history.


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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.