Rooster Cogburn  (1975)    67/100

Rating :   67/100                                                                     108 Min        U

A fair few folk know that Mr western himself, John Wayne, won his only best actor Oscar for playing Rooster Cogburn in the original version of ‘True Grit’ (69). Fairly few people know that he reprised the role in this sequel in 1975, his second last film before he passed away in 1979. It follows a similar sort of formula to its prequel, with Rooster set out to enforce the law in the Old West and a strong willed female accompanying him, much to his chagrin, for her own personal reasons. This time around it is no child that brightens his days, but rather a devoutly Christian old mare in the guise of Katharine Hepburn. Both exuberate wit and charm together, and the bonds of their relationship prove one of the finest things in the movie along with the visual presentation of the wonderful Oregon scenery.

A perfectly decent western, it’s worth watching for the fact alone that it was the only time the two screen legends appeared in a film together. The pair were both born in May 1907, John Wayne eventually succumbed to cancer – it’s thought as a possible result of his work as Genghis Khan in ‘The Conqueror’ in 1956, as the US military were conducting nuclear tests near the filming location, and not only did a disproportionate number of the cast and crew die of cancer, and it become one of the biggest flops of all time, but producer Howard Hughes (played by Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘The Aviator’ 04) reputedly knew about the testing and pressed on with the production, then spent the final years of his life consumed by guilt, locked away by himself watching the film repeatedly. So the story goes anyway.

Someone who was up for casting John Wayne as Genghis Khan clearly had some issues in the first place. Katherine Hepburn went on to cement her solitary stranglehold on the Academy Awards, winning best actress for 1981’s ‘On Golden Pond’ and becoming the first, and still only, actor to win four lead acting Oscars (she is one of only two actors to have even won three in the leading category {the other being Daniel Day-Lewis} and she also appeared in ‘The Aviator’ played by Cate Blanchett, a role which landed Blanchett the best supporting actress Oscar), though her early life was marked with tragedy, developing a large mistrust for people after discovering the body of her older brother after he apparently committed suicide. She would live until the ripe old age of 96.

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