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True Grit

    March 13, 2025


   Sturges-Young Center for the Arts

   Main Stage/Theatre



True Grit is a 1969 American Western film directed by Henry Hathaway, starring John Wayne as U.S. Marshal Rooster CogburnGlen Campbell as La Boeuf and Kim Darby as Mattie Ross. It is the first film adaptation of Charles Portis‘ 1968 novel of the same name. The screenplay was written by Marguerite Roberts. Wayne won an Oscar for his performance in the film and reprised his character for the 1975 sequel Rooster Cogburn.

Historians believe Cogburn was based on Deputy U.S. Marshal Heck Thomas, who brought in some of the toughest outlaws. The cast also features Robert DuvallDennis HopperJeff Corey and Strother Martin. The title song, sung by Campbell, was also Oscar-nominated.

The movie’s success, launched a series of films including a 1975 sequel, a 1978 made-for-TV sequel, and a 2010 remake film adaptation.

In 1880, Frank Ross, of Yell County, Arkansas, is murdered and robbed by his hired hand, Tom Chaney. Ross’s young daughter, Mattie, travels to Fort Smith and hires aging U.S. Marshal Reuben “Rooster” J. Cogburn to apprehend Chaney. Mattie earns enough to pay his fee by horse trading. Meanwhile, Chaney has taken up with outlaw “Lucky” Ned Pepper in Indian Territory.[a]

Young Texas Ranger La Boeuf is also pursuing Chaney and joins forces with Cogburn, despite Mattie’s protest. The two try, unsuccessfully, to ditch Mattie.

Days later, the three discover horse thieves Emmett Quincy and Moon, who are waiting for Pepper at a remote dugout cabin. Cogburn captures and interrogates the two men. Moon is shot in the leg during the capture, and Cogburn uses the injury as leverage for information about Pepper. Quincy slams a knife down on Moon’s hand to shut him up, severing four of his fingers, then kills him. Cogburn shoots Quincy dead. Before dying, Moon reveals Pepper and his gang are due at the cabin that night for fresh mounts.

Rooster and La Boeuf lay a trap. Upon arriving, Pepper is suspicious and draws La Boeuf’s fire, which blows cover of the planned ambush with a premature shot, inadvertently killing Pepper’s horse. A firefight ensues, during which Cogburn and La Boeuf kill two gang members, but Pepper and the rest of his men escape unharmed. Cogburn, La Boeuf, and Mattie go to McAlester’s store with the dead bodies. Cogburn tries, unsuccessfully, to persuade Mattie to stay at McAlester’s.

Film Information

Directed byHenry Hathaway
Screenplay byMarguerite Roberts
Based onTrue Grit
by Charles Portis
Produced byHal B. Wallis
CinematographyLucien Ballard
Edited byWarren Low
Music byElmer Bernstein
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release dates
  • June 12, 1969 (Premiere (Little Rock, AR))
  • June 13, 1969 (Los Angeles)
Running time
128 minutes
Monday-Thursday 9:00 am-4:30 pm
Friday & Saturday by Appointment
Sunday Closed


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