The only film that scored actor John Wayne an Oscar, "True Grit" is the 1969 film that saw Wayne starring as US Federal Marshal "Rooster" Cogburn (John Wayne). Early in the film, young Mattie Ross (Kim Darby) finds out that her father, Frank Ross (John Pickard), has been murdered by one of the farm hands he hired, Tom Chaney (Jeff Corey), who took off to Indian country with the money he stole from Ross.
Mattie decides that she'll need help in order to persue the man who killed her father, who's now joined up with an outlaw gang headed by Lucky Ned Pepper (Robert Duvall). With no one to help her, Mattie turns to "Rooster" Cogburn, who's definitely rough around the edges, with an eye patch and some considerable wear-and-tear, not to mention a bit of an alcohol issue.
Joined by another sheriff seeking out Chaney (Glen Campbell), the two men initially don't want the young girl trailing along on the mission into dangerous territory, but after a while, they realize that she can take care of herself out in the wilds.
The story remains rather simple and straightforward, but the picture does boast some magnificent locations in Colorado, Mexico and California (some of which are profiled in the featurette included in the extras section on this DVD), gorgeous cinematography from Lucien Ballard ("The Wild Bunch") and solid performances. As for the acting, while no one here stands up to the grand performance from Wayne (who carries the film), Darby provides a reasonably good supporting effort. The story does take a little while to get going, but I never found it dull.
Overall, "True Grit" remains a satisfying Western, with an award-winning performance from Wayne and a simple - but satisfying - story.
VIDEO: "True Grit" is presented by Paramount in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a mostly good looking transfer for a film of this age, with sharpness and detail that looked quite good throughout the show. The presentation did show some minor wear-and-tear (not as much as Wayne's character does in the movie, but a little here-and-there), but otherwise, the elements appeared in good shape. Edge enhancement did cause some issues, as minor-to-moderate edge enhancement was seen at times throughout the film. Colors appeared natural and accurate, with no smearing or other issues. This transfer wasn't a knockout, but it was certainly watchable.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack fared pretty well, as dialogue remained a bit fuller and crisper than one might expect from a movie of this age. Surrounds provided some minor reinforcement and ambience, but really don't have much to do, which is not surprising, given that this is a remixed mono soundtrack that's nearly 30 years old. Speaking of the mono soundtrack, it's also included here.
EXTRAS: Audio commentary from historians Bob Boze Bell, J. Stuart Rosebrook and Jeb Rosebrook, "True Writing" featurette, "Working With the Duke" featurette, "Aspen Gold: Locations of True Grit" featurette, "The Law and the Lawless" featurette and the film's theatrical trailer.
Final Thoughts: "True Grit" is an enjoyable, involving Western with Wayne providing a fantastic effort in the lead role. The DVD set offers decent audio/video quality and a nice set of supplemental features. Recommended.
The Film B+