Saturday, January 29, 2011

Misleading Grit

This afternoon, I sat on my couch and turned on the television.  The problem was that I had been watching reruns of the Office on TBS last, so when the screen came to life, weekend daytime programming was on, and my eyes were assaulted with Legally Blonde.  As such, I feel the need to write a testosterone ridden post to  make up for this travesty.  For today, I am going to compare Jeff Bridges to John Wayne, specifically, their performances in True Grit.  Having seen the remake a few weeks ago, I wanted to treat myself to the original (as I am generally a believe that the original is better).  The other night, I caught the original on AMC, so now I am primed to compare!

Let me just say that this post will not be a spoiler, and I will not mention specific differences in the plot...Suffice to say, there were MAJOR discrepancies.  Instead, I will compare the role of Rooster Cogburn along the dimensions of my scientifically designed scale.

Likability:  I find that John Wayne's character was far more likable than the Rooster of Jeff Bridges.  Bridges always seemed to be out more for himself with an "I do not give a damn" attitude.  John Wayne seemed to care more about Mattie and be a genuinely better guy.  In a way, it seems like he had to learn less to care about others than did Jeff's Cogburn.

Humor:  Jeff Bridges had me laughing, and John Wayne did not.  His delivery was more deft, and the funny lines were simply more amusing in the remake than the original.  In fairness to Wayne, I believe the director was less concerned with comic relief in his version.  Either way, Bridges had me cracking up in the court scene, and he gets the nod for this category.

Believability:  The Duke was pretty tough, but as noted in "Likability," I always felt like he was a guy I should like.  With Baby Duke (Bridges), there were a lot of moments where I did not like him.  Given that Rooster Cogburn is supposed to be a Civil War veteran with a reputation for being a old, drunkard bad-ass, I think that the character is more believable if played in a manner where I dislike him from time to time.  Thus, Bridges gets my vote here.

Authenticity:  This cannot be computed since I did not live in the time period portrayed.  When trying to compute, my method produced an error message that said, "No basis for comparison."

Classic:  This one is not even fair to Baby Duke.  If there is any discussion of a more classic performance in a Western movie, it is clear that no version contained John Wayne.  However, it should be noted that classic usually implies a little cornier.

Grit:  The main criterion for this one is the question, "Who wins in a bar brawl?"  I would put my money on Bridges.  He seems like he would fight dirty, pull hair, kick in the nards, etc...whatever to win.  His portrayal just had me believing that he lived a rougher life and was shaped in a grittier way from his past.

Overall:  I think that the remake was a better movie, but I have a difficult time deciding whether that was because of the acting by Rooster Cogburn or the other multitude of factors that went into my overall enjoyment of the movie.  Both actors brought very discernible and distinct aspects to the role, and while I'm tempted to go with Bridges, I don't want to be held to it.

I'm interested to see what you think.  Please put the reasoning behind your vote in the comments!
Who Had Misleading Grit?
John Wayne
Jeff Bridges free polls


1 comment:

  1. Coincidentally I just saw these movies this weekend - otherwise I would not have voted.

    I think Bridges was much grittier and more believable than Wayne. I also liked Mattie's character more in the new version. Although I liked the characters more, I also found that I was unable to get as immersed in the movie as I was in the original.