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True Grit Redux
Townhall.com ^ | December 31, 2010 | Suzanne Fields

Posted on 12/31/2010 12:28:39 PM PST by Kaslin

"True Grit" is a tale whose time had come and gone. It's the good fortune of a new generation that its time has come again. The novel by Charles Portis, which sold only about 25,000 copies between 2007 and 2009, has been bought by 10,000 new readers since the new version of the movie opened this month.

In an age when twittering conversation is limited to 140 characters, where children become chubby couch potatoes changing channels with a remote control or playing war games moving fantasy soldiers around on a screen, Mattie Ross is an authentic heroine -- lean, mean, articulate and downright inspirational at the toughened age of 14.

Old codgers who loved the 1969 movie for the character of Rooster Cogburn as portrayed by John Wayne will be disappointed by Jeff Bridges as Rooster. He plays the raspy drunk with too much spillover from his role in "Crazy Heart" -- but the character of Mattie is much improved. This time, we get to hear Mattie's voice as the older woman, a spinster recalling the great adventure of her youth. The cadences and perceptions in her speech are richer and more mature because they're often lifted word for word from the novel.

The Coen brothers made the movie first of all because it suited their sensibility of a Western unusual in its mix of ruthlessness with rectitude, irony with sentiment, satire with dead seriousness, and all in the service of delineating the black, white and gray coloring of good and evil. They wanted kids to like it, too. Unlike most of their graphically violent other movies, "True Grit" got a PG-13 rating.

The novel reads like a memoir. Charles Portis' crisp Southern idiom, poetic cadences, sense of place and specificity of detail lends verisimilitude in a tale from the vanishing American frontier. The novel was once required reading in American literature classes, taught along with "Huckleberry Finn" and "Tom Sawyer," where it belongs. Mattie, however, is made of sterner stuff than Mark Twain's creative children. She has been described as "Ahab's little sister" for her unrelenting pursuit of her father's killer. Tom Chaney, "a short man with cruel features," is her Moby Dick.

Mattie's character draws everyone in close with the opening of her story as remembered a half-century on:

"People do not give it credence that a 14-year-old girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father's blood, but it did not seem so strange then, although I will say it did not happen every day. I was just 14 years of age when a coward going by the name of Tom Chaney shot my father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robbed him of his life and his horse and $150 in cash money, plus two California gold pieces that he carried in his trouser band."

The novel got lost somewhere in the past two decades as America moved into the post-literate age, reduced to a period piece. Readers lost an appreciation for Mattie's voice and her deadpan perceptions that are rife with comic understatement and ripe with universal insight. The moving prose (and the moving picture) show how Mattie's Presbyterian primness combined with Rooster's ruthlessness inevitably prevail. Duty and discipline ultimately fence in disorder by imposing justice, one way or another. "True grit" is the stuff of courage, preserving a fertile seedbed for the next generation as the Wild West is diminished to a rodeo spectator sport.

In the theater where I watched this latest version of "True Grit," I was struck by the sight of families there to watch it together -- children, parents, grandparents and friends of different generations. The adventure story has that kind of sweeping appeal, and the story is even more exciting in the written word. Americans once grew up on literature like this.

Rooster Cogburn is politically incorrect and revels in it, a "one-eyed fat man" who takes pride in his Confederate service and in having ridden with William Clarke Quantrill, the notorious border guerrilla. Rooster loves to pull a cork and rides into battle with reins between his teeth, blasting away with both guns. Spiderman he is not.

Mattie Ross grows up to be a one-armed spinster and a small-town banker in "Dardanelle, Yell County, Arkansas," who would sneer at the suggestion that she is "physically challenged." She is instead "a woman with brains and a frank tongue," but "feminist" doesn't apply either. She loves her church and her bank, expresses Scripture and platitudes of Presbyterian piety with black humor, and triumphs as a woman we can all admire. The new movie should revive the literary attention the book deserves.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: hollywood; moviereview; suzannefields; truegrit; westerns
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1 posted on 12/31/2010 12:28:40 PM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Might as well try to remake Casablanca. There is no point to it.


2 posted on 12/31/2010 12:32:16 PM PST by pissant (THE Conservative party: www.falconparty.com)
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To: Kaslin

My wife came home a few days ago and said one of her employees saw it and said “Don’t bother”.

I’ll not bother. I wouldn’t have, anyway. Nothing will ever replace Wayne’s marvelous role in that film.


3 posted on 12/31/2010 12:34:15 PM PST by bcsco
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To: pissant

Saw it yesterday, it is very good, old style western. My expectations were low, but I was pleasantly surprised. Recommended for all you noir-western fans out there.


4 posted on 12/31/2010 12:35:32 PM PST by FlyingEagle
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To: FlyingEagle

Hope to see it Tuesday.


5 posted on 12/31/2010 12:37:59 PM PST by Patrick1 (I'm a soldier of good fortune, I'm guarding the Yucatan.)
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To: Kaslin

As the critics say, that book has a bull’s-eye opening sentence. If you haven’t read it, folks, buy a used one on Amazon in paperback - with the original primitive-art cover. You won’t regret it.


6 posted on 12/31/2010 12:38:49 PM PST by miss marmelstein
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To: Kaslin

I kinda liked the new version, too.

In an ideal world, we could do a remix with John Wayne, the new Mattie and new LaBoef.


7 posted on 12/31/2010 12:38:53 PM PST by Cloverfarm (This too shall pass ...)
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To: Kaslin

...the last line of the book is one of my favorites in all of American literature....it is spoken by Mattie as an old lady.

“This ends my true account of how I avenged Frank Ross’s blood over in the Choctaw Nation when snow was on the ground.


8 posted on 12/31/2010 12:40:20 PM PST by STONEWALLS
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To: Cloverfarm

Agreed. The new version is superior in all aspects except that Jeff isn’t the Duke.


9 posted on 12/31/2010 12:41:30 PM PST by Sherman Logan
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To: FlyingEagle

Saw it yesterday with my wife and 13 year old niece. She didn’t want to go but was told she was going to see a movie. She loved it. Jeff Bridges was excellent as rooster as was the gal who played mattie. All of us enjoyed it but it still was not as good as the original “true grit” with the Duke. Still worth the time to go see.


10 posted on 12/31/2010 12:41:37 PM PST by coop223
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To: Kaslin
Nobody, but nobody can replace Marion as the fat, one-eyed, SOB. We'll see how it does in the free market.

/johnny

11 posted on 12/31/2010 12:42:55 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: Kaslin
Fields is preaching to the choir, as regards myself: I first read the novel twenty-eight years ago and fell in love with it. It's on the annual reading schedule.

And I like the John Wayne version of True Grit, as well, which contains a surprising amount of Portis' dialogue, unchanged, but I had always hoped that someday someone would do a more faithful translation of the novel. Haven't seen the new version yet (it's on the list), but when I heard that the Coen boys were working on it, I was cheered by the idea that, if anybody could handle it, they could.

12 posted on 12/31/2010 12:43:28 PM PST by Dunstan McShane
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To: Kaslin

My brother, who is a lover of John Wayne movies, says this remake is well worth seeing. I don’t have much chance to go to the movies these days but I will see this one, either now or later.


13 posted on 12/31/2010 12:43:30 PM PST by samtheman
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To: Kaslin
Most people who have put aside their “no one can do it after Wayne’ prejudgment have come away with praise -

I’ an ole great granny - going to see it tomorrow with family

(some of my grandkids have seen it too - really liked it.

14 posted on 12/31/2010 12:44:54 PM PST by maine-iac7
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To: Kaslin
Well I saw the original with the Duke at the theater in 1969, so I'll go see this one too. Also read the book years ago. As the article states a very good read. Which brings to mind the film Little Big Man which came out around the same time as True Grit. The film was good but the book by Thomas Berger was outstanding, one of the best pieces of literature I have ever read. If you liked the book True Grit, you'll love the book Little Big Man.
15 posted on 12/31/2010 12:45:05 PM PST by Inyo-Mono (Had God not driven man from the Garden of Eden the Sierra Club surely would have.)
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To: bcsco

From the first day I heard of this remake, I was prepared not to like it.

But, I have to say, this review gives me a little pause.

John Wayne was of course unforgettable as Rooster Cogburn in the original. But, of course, he stole the show. Maybe that wasn’t all good. It’s obvious from the story itself that it is supposed to be first and foremost about Mattie Ross. And Kim Darby wasn’t really that great in the part.

I guess I’ll reserve judgment until I see it, if I get the opportunity to do so.


16 posted on 12/31/2010 12:45:31 PM PST by EternalVigilance (I'm not a Democrat. I'm not a Republican. I'm a Christian and an American.)
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To: bcsco

This actually a great movie. Jeff Bridges is wonderful and the script lends a lot more dimension to Rooster than the original movie did. Wayne’s version was more broad and comedic than Bridges’, and that served the purpose of what audiences expected in the late 60s.

I love both movies, maybe the original a little more.


17 posted on 12/31/2010 12:46:20 PM PST by Comstock1 (You can't have Falstaff and have him thin.)
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To: FlyingEagle

My husband and son saw it last night and they thought is was very good.


18 posted on 12/31/2010 12:47:13 PM PST by alice_in_bubbaland (DeMint/Ryan 2012!!!!!)
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To: Cloverfarm
we could do a remix with John Wayne, the new Mattie and new LaBoef.

May be closer than you think.... The studios will defecate building materials, but the hackers are close to doing that.

Underground/black-market only.

Too bad they can't figure out the technology without at least 2 generations lead time.

/johnny

19 posted on 12/31/2010 12:47:23 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: Kaslin

I’ll bet I could have done a better job than Jeff Bridges. And I already got my own colt and winchester! Sheesh, what were they thinkin?


20 posted on 12/31/2010 12:47:59 PM PST by exnavy (May the Lord grant our troops protection and endurance.)
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To: bcsco

....back in the late 1960s when the book came out John Wayne read it and immediately bought the screen rights...he had been in the movie business long enough to know a good western when he saw one....and he knew this was going to be his baby all the way....at his age and with his experiance in the genre, there has never been an actor more perfect for a role.


21 posted on 12/31/2010 12:49:31 PM PST by STONEWALLS
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To: Kaslin

Good except the ending - did not care for it. They should have done the same ending as the original movie.


22 posted on 12/31/2010 12:50:52 PM PST by MomwithHope (Wake up America we are at war with militant Islam and progressives - 2 fronts.)
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To: Kaslin

I love John Wayne—True Grit and most of his other movies.

I also love the Coen Brothers. I expect this movie will be very different from the Wayne movie, but also worth seeing.


23 posted on 12/31/2010 12:51:44 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: EternalVigilance

We really enjoyed the movie. My 21 yo son came away impressed with the performance of the actress playing Mattie. He liked it, but really was moved by her.


24 posted on 12/31/2010 12:52:11 PM PST by ican'tbelieveit
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To: Kaslin
I was disappointed to hear they were making it...

...but the Coens, from what I hear, have put 'the novel' out there on the screen...and not the Hollywood evisceration of a novel...as I hear the original movie was...(though I love the original immensely)

I loved Wayne as Rooster...he earned his oscar. and I do not like the politics of Mr. Bridges.

so I will wait for the Bluray, watch it on my own ‘big screen’ and probably enjoy it as the trailer looks great...and I love most things ‘Western’

25 posted on 12/31/2010 12:53:50 PM PST by Vaquero (BHO....'The Pretenda from Kenya')
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To: Sherman Logan
I saw this with my family on Wednesday. I had wondered how I would like it compared with the John Wayne version. I came away actually liking this version better. Sorry, but that is how I felt after the movie.

I know John Wayne is a legend; but, I felt Jeff Bridges did an excellent job as Rooster. Matt Damon was certainly better than Glenn Campbell; and, the girl playing Mattie was very good.

My two girls liked the movie (I call them girls tho both are in their 20's.), but, I don't think Westerns are a genre that the young are tuned into anymore. Unlike my husband and myself who grew up with westerns on t.v. and the big screen.

26 posted on 12/31/2010 12:55:51 PM PST by LibertarianLiz
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To: Kaslin; pissant

It’s good. Go see it.


27 posted on 12/31/2010 1:00:45 PM PST by onona (dbada)
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To: bcsco

I call that bold talk for a one eyed fat man.


28 posted on 12/31/2010 1:01:13 PM PST by calex59
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To: STONEWALLS
Actually, by the time Wayne read the book, producer Hal Wallis had already secured the rights.

Wayne was crushed, had to go to Wallis and plead with him to do the role of Rooster Cogburn.

29 posted on 12/31/2010 1:01:41 PM PST by Cyropaedia ("Virtue cannot separate itself from reality without becoming a principal of evil...".)
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To: STONEWALLS

John Wayne read a book?


30 posted on 12/31/2010 1:03:50 PM PST by Sherman Logan
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To: Kaslin
Old codgers who loved the 1969 movie for the character of Rooster Cogburn as portrayed by John Wayne will be disappointed by Jeff Bridges as Rooster.

I wasn't disappointed. This is a different movie, and Bridges does an amazing job. And I loved Wayne in the original. The 2010 "True Grit" is the best movie I've seen in quite a while.
31 posted on 12/31/2010 1:10:42 PM PST by AnotherUnixGeek
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To: Vaquero
so I will wait for the Bluray, watch it on my own ‘big screen’ and probably enjoy it as the trailer looks great...and I love most things ‘Western’

I just might join you in that. Wait until it comes out on Bluray. And, if you love most things "Western", have you seen "Appaloosa"? If not, check it out as well on Bluray.

32 posted on 12/31/2010 1:11:11 PM PST by bcsco
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To: calex59
I call that bold talk for a one eyed fat man.

Hey! I have two eyes...

33 posted on 12/31/2010 1:12:17 PM PST by bcsco
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To: Kaslin

Hollywood is totally bankrupt of ideas.


34 posted on 12/31/2010 1:17:59 PM PST by ozzymandus
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To: Sherman Logan

Yeah, John Wayne read books. Just like Reagan and Sarah Palin. What’s your point, Pilgrim?


35 posted on 12/31/2010 1:27:32 PM PST by miss marmelstein
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To: Kaslin

The main thing I liked about the original (besides the Duke himself, of course) was the affection that developed between Rooster and Mattie. I didn’t get that same sense from the new one. And the commercials and previews before the movie were horrible!


36 posted on 12/31/2010 1:30:31 PM PST by Galatians513 (this space available for catchy tagline)
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To: Vaquero

Sorry, I know the first film and book pretty well. With certain exceptions - Mattie doesn’t lose her arm - the original movie is very close to the novel. Not at all a “Hollywood evisceration.” And when you have Strother Martin, Jeff Corey and Robert Duvall back you up, who gives a damn what is changed?


37 posted on 12/31/2010 1:31:17 PM PST by miss marmelstein
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To: EternalVigilance

FReeper Cinnamom Girl has written a very good and persuasive review of the movie:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2648074/posts


38 posted on 12/31/2010 1:32:26 PM PST by Yardstick
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To: MomwithHope
Good except the ending - did not care for it. They should have done the same ending as the original movie.

The ending is based on the book, not the movie. So it's actually more correct

I see it yesterday and thought it was a great movie. Jeff Bridges, I thought did a fantastic job as Cogburn and I'm not a Jeff bridges fan

39 posted on 12/31/2010 1:36:58 PM PST by Popman (Obama. First Marxist to turn a five year Marxist plan into a 4 year administration.)
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To: Inyo-Mono

I ADORE the novel Little Big Man. So different from that dopey movie!

The novel is complex - very hard on the Indians and hard on the white man. Custer is a hero in the novel - something most people would not know since his bravery and military smarts have been denigrated and suppressed.

Have you read its sequel? I have it and am slowly working myself through it.


40 posted on 12/31/2010 1:37:44 PM PST by miss marmelstein
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To: miss marmelstein
If you haven’t read it, folks, buy a used one on Amazon in paperback - with the original primitive-art cover.

I have my copy right here, complete with a blub across the bottom plugging the "SMASH UNIVERSAL MOVIE STARRING JOHN WAYNE AND KATHARINE HEPBURN"... First Printing, February, 1969 (must've been referring to the Signet paperback version).

I pull it off the shelf and read it once every few years, and as time passed, I have increasingly wished they had stuck to the book closer when making the first movie version. I despise Hollywood more than ever and have weaned myself from the habit - even the desire - to go out and see a movie, but I may check out the new version of True Grit anyway.

Mr. niteowl77

41 posted on 12/31/2010 1:39:02 PM PST by niteowl77 (I don't mind them stewing in their own juices, but I do mind them stewing me in their own juices.)
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To: Galatians513

I enjoyed the original True Grit with John Wayne and have watched several times on TV, but I have no intention to watch the remake


42 posted on 12/31/2010 1:39:27 PM PST by Kaslin (Acronym for OBAMA: One Big Ass Mistake America)
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To: Popman
Gee, I see saw it yesterday
43 posted on 12/31/2010 1:40:55 PM PST by Popman (Obama. First Marxist to turn a five year Marxist plan into a 4 year administration.)
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To: FlyingEagle

Did you see the original with John Wayne and Kim Darby?


44 posted on 12/31/2010 1:43:18 PM PST by Kaslin (Acronym for OBAMA: One Big Ass Mistake America)
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To: miss marmelstein

Great reply


45 posted on 12/31/2010 1:46:49 PM PST by Kaslin (Acronym for OBAMA: One Big Ass Mistake America)
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To: pissant; All

***Might as well try to remake Casablanca. There is no point to it.****

Might as well vent my spleen as to why I HATE the John Wayne verison!

1. Glen Campbell can not act!

2.Kim Darby is too old for her part. She was already playing adult roles in other films.

3.John Wayne ceased acting after THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALENCE. The rest of his westerns were a version of McLintock, a parody of himself. He telegraphed all his moves while playing a funny drunk, not a SOT. He just changed his shirt from red to blue in some of them. his last real acting role was THE SHOOTIST. I wonder how Randolph Scott would have done it! Wayne’s movies before 1962 were great!

4.The outlaws looked like they had just come from the barber. None of the dirt or hair on someone on the lam from Judge Parker’s noose. Not a tick or chigger bite on them!

5.The Country. Oklahoma is NOT the Rocky Mountains or Sierra Nevada mountains. The new TG looks like Oklahoma in winter!

6.The saddles look modern. The new TRUE GRIT has authentic saddles.
7. Did I mention Glen Campbell really really could not act!

There! I feel better after carrying this load around for 41 years!


46 posted on 12/31/2010 1:48:09 PM PST by Ruy Dias de Bivar (I visited GEN TOMMY FRANKS Military Museum in HOBART, OKLAHOMA! Well worth it!)
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To: Kaslin

Being a John Wayne fanatic, I was upset when I first learned of this remake. With great trepidation I interrupted our Hawaii vacation and took my 20 yr old son to see it Wednesday. I left with only four words in my brain:

1-BestMovieOfTheYearOscar

2-BestActorOscar

3-BestSupportingActressOscar

4-BestScriptEver

(Of course I’m not holding my breath for Hollywood to give it any awards.)

The new True Grit is sufficiently different (and “updated”) that the original True Grit is not diminished in any way. Its just that they are both exxxxxcellent movies.


47 posted on 12/31/2010 1:49:43 PM PST by nevergiveup (When in Rome, speak Roman.)
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar

OK, I need to deal with this.

First: Glen Campbell cannot act. True. But at this time all John Wayne/Henry Hathaway/John Ford films featured a pop star as co-star. It was a convention. It certainly doesn’t upset one of my favorite Westerns: Rio Bravo. Get used to it.

2. Kim Darby is not too old. In acting, most actresses MUST be older to play younger parts. The problem with Ms. Darby is that she wasn’t strong enough - or charismatic enough - to stand up against actors like Wayne, Strother Martin, etc. She just didn’t have the talent to overcome these great, great actors. But in her quieter scenes, she’s not half bad.

John Wayne never ceased acting. You are buying into a cliche. He was a wonderful actor who died with his boots on. Educate yourself.

If you think Dennis Hopper just came from a barber, you need to check out an eye doctor.

I know nothing about saddles - but I know what I like.


48 posted on 12/31/2010 1:59:28 PM PST by miss marmelstein
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To: miss marmelstein
I ADORE the novel Little Big Man. So different from that dopey movie!

The novel is complex - very hard on the Indians and hard on the white man. Custer is a hero in the novel - something most people would not know since his bravery and military smarts have been denigrated and suppressed.

Have you read its sequel? I have it and am slowly working myself through it.

I too am working my way through the sequel, doesn't quite have that something the original had.

One of my favorite parts of Little Big Man was the Prolog, ...by a Man of Letters. It is a perfect portrait of a modern lib writer when faced with a real man. Too funny. I am also a Western history fanatic and Little Big Man is the most authentic Western novel I have ever read, bar none. I even have some of the authentic source material that it was based upon and Berger nails the Old West like no other writer.

49 posted on 12/31/2010 2:01:56 PM PST by Inyo-Mono (Had God not driven man from the Garden of Eden the Sierra Club surely would have.)
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To: miss marmelstein

did you see the remake?

for a few pennies to netflix, if I have the time, I will chance it.

You forgot Dennis Hopper...

he died good.

(btw Bob Duval was excellent....Jeff Corey perfomance was yeomanlike...and creepy little John Fielder as Lawyer Dagget was....well he played creepy little John Fielder....loved him as Jack the Ripper on a Star Trek episode....)


50 posted on 12/31/2010 2:03:37 PM PST by Vaquero (BHO....'The Pretenda from Kenya')
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