True Grit (Blu-ray) (1969)

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Released 21-Apr-2011

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western Audio Commentary-Jeb Rosebrook, Bob Boze Bell & J. Stuart Rosebrook
Featurette-True Writing
Featurette-Working with the Duke
Featurette-Aspen Gold: The Locations of True Grit
Featurette-The Law and the Lawless
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1969
Running Time 128:04
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Henry Hathaway
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring John Wayne
Glen Campbell
Kim Darby
Jeremy Slate
Robert Duvall
Strother Martin
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Elmer Bernstein


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
German
Spanish
French
Italian
Chinese
Bulgarian
Estonian
Danish
Greek
Hindi
Croatian
Korean
Hungarian
Dutch
Norwegian
Latvian
Portuguese
Lithuanian
Romanian
Finnish
Swedish
Serbian
English for the Hearing Impaired
German Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Mattie Ross (Kim Darby) is only 16 when Tom Chaney (Jeff Corey) kills her father and flees into Indian Territory. Determined to bring Chaney to justice, Mattie seeks to hire a Marshall to take her into the territory and settles on Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne), an old, fat, alcoholic, one eyed Marshall who, however, still seems to have some “true grit”. They are joined by Texas Ranger La Boeuf (Glen Campbell) who is also looking for Chaney. The three set out in an uneasy alliance, finding that Chaney has joined the gang of Ned Pepper (Robert Duvall), a man also wanted by Cogburn. The stage is set for a confrontation in the high country.

     True Grit is John Wayne’s picture and the role of Rooster Cogburn won him his best actor Academy Award. It has been said that Wayne always played Wayne, which is true to an extent, but in True Grit he was not afraid to play rough – as an old, overweight drunk- and although he may be playing John Wayne it is as an inversion of his earlier roles and he never lapses into parody. It is an excellent performance and if it is not his best, as some argue, it is certainly right up there as he gets to deliver some delicious dialogue, much of it taken by screenwriter Marguerite Roberts straight from the Charles Portis novel. In fact, Wayne’s larger than life performance threatens to unbalance the picture as the other two main actors are no-where near as good. Kim Darby is uneven; sometimes she is good, other times much less so, while as an actor Glen Campbell makes a good singer. However, the cast is rounded out by excellent actors including Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper and Strother Martin who are all great to watch.

     True Grit was one of the last of the “old fashioned” westerns, released in the same year as The Wild Bunch, a film that changed the face of American westerns. For example, the violence in True Grit is the older bloodless variety, the staging of scenes by veteran director Henry Hathaway beautifully framed and shot by the great cinematographer Lucien Ballard (who also shot The Wild Bunch pretty much in the same year); pause at 61:53 for a wonderful example of balance, wide open vistas with the riders dwarfed by the landscape. The editing is relatively static, except in the famous climactic fight on horseback, without quick cutting or indeed the extreme close ups so beloved by Sergio Leone in his spaghetti westerns made between 1964 – 1966. The pictures are accompanied by the orchestral score by Elmer Bernstein (who was nominated for 11 Oscars, including for True Grit but who won only one, for Thoroughly Modern Millie in 1968) which sounds great, even if it does on occasions sound a bit like his score for The Magnificent Seven from 1960.

     True Grit looks stunning and sounds great. But it is the larger than life performance by John Wayne, which won him an Oscar, that elevates the film to another level entirely. A classic western that looks great on Blu-ray and comes with a nice collection of extras.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     True Grit is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original aspect ratio being 1.85:1, in 1080p.

     This is a beautiful print. It is clean with good fine detail. Colours are natural and have great depth, showing the stunning vistas of Colorado to good effect. Skin tones are good. Dirt marks are absent and there is pleasing film grain. The only issue is frequent ghosting with movement. Most is very minor, but a couple of times it is quite noticeable, as in the ride through the trees at 91:06.

     There are subtitles for a huge range of European and Asian languages, including English and English for the hearing impaired.

     There are also subtitles for the audio commentary in German, English, Spanish, French and Italian.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The default audio track is English DTS-HD MA 5.1, but also available is the English restored mono, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish and French dubs (all Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps) and an English commentary track.

     The audio is good, although the 5.1 does not expanding the sound stage to any great extent. The great dialogue is clear and easy to understand. The hooves and gunshots are fine, although they do not have great depth, as might be expected. The surrounds are used for mostly music. The subwoofer gets little use. The original mono audio is a nice addition.

     The orchestral score by Elmer Bernstein is big and old fashioned, suiting the visuals even if it is a bit reminiscent of his score for The Magnificent Seven.

     Lip synchronisation was fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     A good collection of extras that were available on the previous DVD Collector’s Edition of True Grit in the US but I am not sure if they were ever available in Region 4; as far as I know we only got a trailer.

True Writing (4:28)

     Short featurette on the writer of the book True Grit, Charles Portis, and the influence of the book and film as reflections of American values. Features film clips, behind the scenes still and interviews with historians, writers, a magazine editor and two of the film’s actors Kim Darby and Jeremy Slate. Made in 2007, Kim Darby looks very different!

Working with the Duke (10:15)

     Memories and reflections upon the character and status of John Wayne. Mostly the same people and some of the same footage as the previous featurette, but with additional interview material with Glen Campbell and the man who made the costumes.

Aspen Gold: Locations of True Grit (10:19)

     A look at the film locations in Ouray and Ridgway, Colorado, as they are now. Made up from film footage and current (2007) views and interviews with a number of townspeople including a newspaper reporter, café owner and a rancher.

The Law and the Lawless (5:46)

     A short look with a western magazine editor at some of the legends and myths of the west on both sides of the law.

Theatrical Trailer (3:37)

     A good, old fashioned trailer for the film.

Commentary: Jeb Rosebrook, Bob Boze Bell and J. Stuart Rosebrook

     The three are Western historians, writers and editors. This is a chatty and informative commentary and the three also occasionally disagree with each other. They talk about the differences between the book and the screenplay, locations, casting, the cinematography and score, the character of Mattie Ross as a modern woman, the political context in the US when the film was made in 1968 and the fact that Mia Farrow was the first choice to play Mattie. They also point out authentic, and not so authentic, western clothing, weapons and equipment. A worthwhile and easy listen.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Blu-ray is the same worldwide.

Summary

     True Grit was one of the last of the “old fashioned” westerns. It looks stunning with its wide open vistas and is accompanied by a rousing orchestral score by Elmer Bernstein. But it is the larger than life performance by John Wayne that elevates the film to another level entirely.

     True Grit looks great on Blu-ray, sounds fine and comes with a good collection of extra of extras. A good package. Recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, August 09, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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