Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

December 25, 2010

True Grit? Humbug.

Filed under: Film,indigenous — louisproyect @ 10:37 pm

Although most of this article is concerned with political issues that would lead me to award “True Grit” with the rotten it deserved, I want to start off by highlighting its major flaw that has not been identified by critics, to my knowledge. Unlike most of the great movies in this genre from “The Magnificent Seven” to “Unforgiven”, “True Grit” has shallow and underdeveloped villains. This is either due to the original material in Portis’s novel or in the Coens’ screenplay. Not having read the novel, I cannot be sure.

This is especially true of the Tom Chaney character hunted throughout the film. Perhaps the casting of an actor normally assigned “good guy” roles (Josh Brolin), the Coens give tacit acknowledgment that the man is simply not in the same league with memorable villains such as the gunslinger Jack Wilson (Jack Palance) in “Shane” or the sadistic Sheriff Dad Longworth (Karl Malden) in “One -Eyed Jacks”, so clearly an inspiration for Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman) in “Unforgiven”. Unlike all these powerful, carefully etched characters, Chaney is amorphous and seemingly unmotivated. Perhaps the film would have had more dramatic power if the Coens had included an initial scene that depicted Chaney brutally attacking Mattie Ross’s father and taunting him while he was dying. But who am I to give the Coens advice. After all, they are the John Fords and Howard Hawks of our age (god help us) and I am merely the unrepentant Marxist.

If the drama in “True Grit” fails in terms of the traditional hero-villain narrative of this genre, then we are left to the interaction between the 14-year-old girl Mattie Ross seeking vengeance and her two partners, the dirty cop Rooster Cogburn and the Texas Ranger LaBoeuf. Critics seem smitten with the arch dialog of the three characters that is filled with odd constructions seemingly lifted from a Dickens novel.

For example, Cogburn—a poorly educated drunk by all accounts—says at one point: “I’m struck that LaBoeuf has been shot, brambled and near severed his tongue. Not only does he not cease to talk, but he spills the banks of English.” Perhaps this works on the written page, but my reaction to such speeches in the film was what a bunch of hooey.

Speaking of which, has anybody considered the likelihood that someone who has consumed buckets of alcohol over the years like Rooster Cogburn and who has only one eye would be able to shoot down four men while riding horseback with the reins of his horse in his teeth? Hooey, once again I asseverate—to use a Portis type formulation. I have seen more realistic gun duels in the most over-the-top Hong Kong policier.

But for you people who worship the ground that the Coens walk upon, feel free to answer me here. I try to maintain a free speech forum. Just don’t use sexist or racist language and try to stick within three insults per day.

* * * *

Let me turn now to the broader historical questions that provide the framework for both “True Grit” movies. Call me incorrigibly dogmatic and a “politically correct” bore, but I just can’t get on the bandwagon for the Coen brothers’ “True Grit”, their latest film that has earned high plaudits across the board, even from the curmudgeonly Armond White who wrote:

This view of the Western’s brutality challenges recent cultural standards regarding violence and sarcasm as established by Quentin Tarantino. Now, True Grit is no longer just a tall tale; it clarifies the Coens’ feelings about violence and America’s spiritual history.

Well, I am not sure about the Coen brothers’ feelings about much of anything. Mostly they are content to produce black comedic yarns, sometimes hitting (“Fargo”, “Blood Simple”), sometimes missing (“A Serious Man”, “No Country for Old Men”.)

I confess that I was prejudiced from the start, having had an extreme reaction against the original “True Grit” that starred Vietnam War hawk John Wayne in 1969. Looking back at Vincent Canby’s NY Times review that year, there is absolutely no reference to the war in Vietnam and John Wayne’s filthy role in promoting it through television appearances and his truly awful propaganda film “The Green Berets”. Most critics agreed with Canby’s assessment and the Academy gave John Wayne an award for best actor as Rooster Cogburn, motivated in part by recognition that the old buzzard did not have long to live after having lost one lung to cancer.

Ironically, Jeff Corey, a blacklisted actor in the 1950s, played Tom Chaney, the “bad guy” being pursued by Rooster Cogburn. When Wayne was making the red scare garbage film “Big Jim McClain” in 1952, Corey could not find work. An LA Times obit on Corey that can be found on the actor’s website recounts what befell him:

The actor was scheduled to appear at the hearing in downtown Los Angeles in September 1951. He was 37 and had a wife and three daughters to support. But he took the 5th Amendment and didn’t work again as an actor in Hollywood for more than a decade, missing out on countless movie opportunities and what would later be considered the golden age of television.

“Most of us were retired reds. We had left it, at least I had, years before,” Corey told Patrick McGilligan, the co-author of “Tender Comrades: A Backstory of the Hollywood Blacklist” who also teaches film at Marquette University. “The only issue was, did you want to just give them their token names so you could continue your career, or not? I had no impulse to defend a political point of view that no longer interested me particularly …. They just wanted two new names so they could hand out more subpoenas.”

Now, forty-one years after the original was made, my distaste for “True Grit” runs deeper, mostly as a function of studying the history of the Southwest over the past year or so in conjunction with a research project about the Comanche Indians, who were the “bad guys” in many a classic Western, including Wayne’s “The Searchers”. My study of this period gives me a totally different appreciation for the role of the Texas Rangers, who were whitewashed in Charles Portis’s novel. While Matt Damon’s Texas Ranger character LaBoeuf was depicted as relatively benign compared to Cogburn, the typical Texas Ranger of American history had more in common with the Ku Klux Klan.

As for Cogburn, he fought with the bushwhackers during the Civil War. My study of Jesse James, a bushwhacker veteran, left me with the conclusion that they too were just like the Klansmen, staging robberies wearing white robes. Perhaps it was possible to make a movie featuring two heroes who had ties to the Texas Rangers and the bushwhackers in the 1940s, but not so today if you have any understanding of the rights and wrongs of American history. Of course, in a period where elected officials defend flying the Confederate flag from government buildings, anything is possible.

Most of you are probably familiar with the plot of “True Grit”. A 14-year-old girl hires Rooster Cogburn (played by Jeff Bridges) to track down her father’s murderer in Choctaw Territory, a portion of the area that would become Oklahoma eventually. All the Indians living in this area got there as a result of Andrew Jackson’s genocidal “Trail of Tears”. While the movie is not really about whites killing Indians, there is one scene that really got me riled up.

Cogburn and Mattie, the fourteen year old played by Hailee Steinfeld, come upon a meager looking farmhouse in Chocktaw Territory that is home to Indians, including a couple of children sitting on the porch. As he enters the house to find out if the inhabitants have any knowledge of the whereabouts of Tom Chaney, he kicks the children on his way up the stairs. For good measure, he kicks them on the way out. What point were the Coens trying to make, that Cogburn was not a nice guy? I think that was pretty well established from the outset. Audiences would probably get a chuckle out of this since it is part and parcel of the sadism that pervades Coen movies. But using Indian children as butts for this kind of humor is pretty tasteless in my view. One imagines that it would be off-limits to see Black children being kicked around in this manner, but Indians are a different story apparently.

Critics love “True Grit” the novel, as well as the movies, because Rooster Cogburn is such a violation of the stereotypical good guy lawman of the old west. He is also a comic figure, almost Falstaffian. I guess that my exposure to the gritty details of American history would make me hostile to anybody who fought on behalf of slavery. The bushwhackers lynched slaves by the hundreds in Missouri. The most recent Jesse James movie that starred Brad Pitt as the bushwhacker crook was an advance over past films insofar as James was depicted as a violent psychopath. But it didn’t begin to address the villain’s racist terrorism. If I had my way, Hollywood would make a movie that showed the bushwhacker in his true colors, as some of America’s most filthy reactionary dogs.

Turning to LaBoeuf (played by Matt Damon), you are getting the stereotypical good guy of the classic western, a part usually played by Alan Ladd or Gary Cooper. His only fault it would seem is to treat Mattie Ross with sexist contempt, spanking her at one point.

While it is beyond the scope of this article to get into a detailed history of the Texas Rangers, some points have to be made. They were formed by Stephen Austin in 1823 and became a key contingent of the war against the Comanches in the 1860s. They also became foot soldiers of the Confederacy around the same time. The most brutal Texas Ranger in this period was Leander Harvey McNelly, who had been a Confederate officer as well. The wiki on McNelly paints him in colors exactly like Rooster Cogburn, who was a “Dirty Harry” of the Old West for all practical purposes:

McNelly’s methods have been questioned throughout the years, and although he recovered many cattle stolen from the Texan Ranches while aggressively dealing with lawlessness on the Mexican border, he also gained a reputation of taking part in many illegal executions and to confessions forced from prisoners by extreme means. McNelly also made himself famous for disobeying direct orders from his superiors on several occasions, and breaking through the Mexican frontier for self-appointed law enforcement purposes. His actions proved to be effective, however, and he was responsible for putting an end to the troubles with Mexican bandits and cattle rustlers along the Rio Grande that were commonplace during the 1850-75 period.

Sounds just like the men running the American military today, doesn’t it? Why the Coens, known for their “edgy” sensibility, would waste their time making a movie glorifying such scum is beyond me.

Back in the 1970s, Peter Camejo spent a couple of evenings at my apartment in Houston when he was on tour. Digging through my records, he found something by The Band. Picking it up like it was a dog turd, he looked at me with a sour expression and asked how I could possibly own a record with a song like “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” on it, a song that mourned the passing of the slavocracy in effect. At the time, I wondered if Peter was overdoing things. Bless his soul, he was right.

126 Comments »

  1. Believe it or not, this film didn’t star John Wayne. Judging by your review, I think you missed that. Also, I would have considered your review credible or relevant had you actually REVIEWED THE MOVIE. Instead, you seemed to have been content with giving your readers a history lesson. Well really you just scolded the filmmakers (mostly without citing sources. I’m not trying to say “YOU’RE WRONG WAAH,” about the facts you point out, but I’d like some material backing your claims) about how the characters were wrong and evil. That brings the film into a bit of a new light, but it doesn’t really change my feelings about: the acting, directing, atmosphere, dialogue, character devlopment, setting, plot, camera work, film score, and plenty of other things you apparently thought irrelevant.

    I did enjoy the movie, I admit to that. If you claim that I’m biased, it’s certainly reasonable. BUT: I am not mad because you gave this a negative review, I’m mad because you gave a negative review and failed to be thorough. What you DID say about it comes off as splitting hairs and an angry confirmation bias. I understand the importance of historcal accuracy and political correctness, but if that’s ALL you’re going to mention, it’s PRETTY OBVIOUS that you were just looking for reasons to hate this film.

    Comment by Kevin — December 26, 2010 @ 12:56 am

  2. I didn’t feel like the Coens were glorifying Cogburn or LaBeouf; more like glorifying Mattie’s level headed steadfastness while she tolerated their inadequacies because of what they had to offer. I think they were making a statement about how we tolerate the actions of our government because, despite their failures, we still need things from it.

    As far as the native American abuse in the film goes, I think the Coens did a good job capturing the racially charged relations of the time. People in my theater laughed at the scene you mentioned, and at the scene in the beginning where the native American is hung before delivering his last words, and I think this is very telling of how ignorant people are to the abuses towards native people. If Cogburn had kicked some little black kids off the porch, people would have been extremely offended.

    Comment by Daniel — December 26, 2010 @ 1:01 am

  3. Believe it or not, this film didn’t star John Wayne.

    I know that. The article refers to two different flicks, one made in 1969 and the other in 2010.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 26, 2010 @ 1:41 am

  4. Correction. It’s “The Night They Drove [not burned] Old Dixie Down.”

    Comment by Paul D'Amato — December 26, 2010 @ 2:08 am

  5. It’s disingenuous of you to publish a political diatribe in the guise of a movie review.

    Comment by Russell Myers — December 26, 2010 @ 2:30 am

  6. Who in their right mind would come to a place called the Unrepentant Marxist expecting Roger Ebert?

    Comment by louisproyect — December 26, 2010 @ 2:36 am

  7. Another review of “True Grit” that is not on the bandwagon:

    http://jestherent.blogspot.com/2010/12/film-review-true-grit.html

    Comment by louisproyect — December 26, 2010 @ 2:52 am

  8. Yes, I know that you’re referencing both, but this is meant to be a review of the new True Grit movie, is it not? I didn’t come to read about what you have to say about John Wayne’s moral compass (even though I agree with what you said about him), and considering that this is a different movie from different people, the things you have to say about John Wayne hold little weight. That said, I find it kind of unfair to the Coen brothers that you seem to lay some blame on him (and his role in the original film) for why you disliked this movie, especially since this one is meant to be based exclusively on the novel. The Coen brothers have said in multiple interviews that their intention was NOT to remake the 1969 movie.

    I saw this review on Rotten Tomatoes, and it was counted as negative. If this wasn’t meant to be a formal review or counted as such by RT, then I apologize.

    Comment by Kevin — December 26, 2010 @ 3:11 am

  9. Terrible review. Even if the Coens’ political views were on the same side as John Wayne’s (which they’re not) you cannot pass off this political diatribe as film criticism. Doing so, only makes the right wing’s point; that the left is filled with inane nuts.

    Comment by Dave Weisbord — December 26, 2010 @ 3:23 am

  10. Some people seem to get upset when their favorite movies get bad reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Armond White has become absolutely infamous in some corners of the web for daring to write one of the three negative reviews keeping Toy Story 3 from a 100% fresh rate. Just ignore them, Louis.

    Comment by VMS — December 26, 2010 @ 3:26 am

  11. Let me get this straight: you’re angry at the movie for glorifying the two main characters but when Cogburn goes to kick the kids we all already know very well that he’s supposed to be a bad guy? I’m not saying the movie is immune to bad reviews (I haven’t seen it, so it would be foolish for me to say anything about the movie really), but this seems like a contradiction to me based on what I’m reading here.

    Comment by James — December 26, 2010 @ 4:10 am

  12. FYI on the song :
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Night_They_Drove_Old_Dixie_Down
    ‘Robertson claimed that he had the music to the song in his head but had no idea what it was to be about:

    “At some point [the concept] blurted out to me. Then I went and I did some research and I wrote the lyrics to the song.” Robertson continued, “When I first went down South, I remember that a quite common expression would be, ‘Well don’t worry, the South’s gonna rise again.’ At one point when I heard it I thought it was kind of a funny statement and then I heard it another time and I was really touched by it. I thought, ‘God, because I keep hearing this, there’s pain here, there is a sadness here.’ In Americana land, it’s a kind of a beautiful sadness.”[3]’

    HMM…why as robertson sympathetic to this?

    Comment by brian — December 26, 2010 @ 4:27 am

  13. The comments are brilliant — better than the “review” deserved. I feel duped for having spent any time reading a poorly informed political screed when I thought that I was getting a critical point of view.

    Thanks to those that elevated the thread beyond its shabby beginnings.

    -Eric

    Comment by Eric — December 26, 2010 @ 4:40 am

  14. Isn’t Lou pointing out that the folk history the Coen brother’s regularly produce is, perhaps, as vacant as the original True Grit?

    Comment by Michael — December 26, 2010 @ 5:10 am

  15. After seeing your new-found excoriation of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” I anticipate some dismissive notes on Hersey’s “Hiroshima,” Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five” and Sebald’s “On the Natural History of Destruction.”

    Comment by Stuart Newman — December 26, 2010 @ 6:24 am

  16. Great review in parts. You failed to include that Bridges is just playing a more drunken version of his crazy heart character. Damon is a cartoon character and Hallie spends most of the movie reading her lines. The coens always have a cartoon character in their movie but these were ruthless times Damon does a great job with what he was directed to do but is too cute and soft. He’s here for box office draw. The inclusion of the kicking of the children can only be interpreted as the Coens view of how the US has treated Indians. the big bully kicking the little guy. Does nothing for the movie but add that subtle reminder that we do not really respect them as a significant race.

    The characters played by brolin and pepper are more true to the gritty old west. A time when the fine line between law men and frontier criminals was almost unrecognizeable. That is one thing the cogburn character is true to!

    Comment by Matt LoGuercio — December 26, 2010 @ 10:31 am

  17. Leaving out the fact that the two Native American children were stabbing the horse that was tied up in front of the store with sharpened sticks shows a blind bias that permeates your review of this film. This modern “politically correct” thinking that applies todays view of symbols co-opted by modern racist groups blackwashes history as effectively as some John Wayne films did a whitewash. Bushwhackers were not klansmen when they were robbing stages in white robes nor do klansmen today wear white robes to honor stagecoach robbers. Not all men fighting for the South in the Civil War were fighting for slavery just like not all men fighting for the North were fighting against it.
    The original True Grit was made in 1969 before we began to overlooked the nuances of history. The 70’s were amazing time when “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” could become an AM hit and Dukes of Hazard with its Confederate Flag painted General Lee car presented without irony or apology could be a top ten show. And an African American kid born in 1969 could sing along and rebel yell with the Dukes.

    That said I came to read your review because I had troubles with the Coen’s True Grit. I’m pretty sure you really didn’t watch it.

    Comment by Joe — December 26, 2010 @ 1:09 pm

  18. Why does these movie nuts understand that the whitewashing of american history is much more important than a movie? Seeing as the general public have taken most of their ideas about the west from hollywood a review like this is much more important than doing justice t the Coens mise-en-scene

    Comment by Joe R — December 26, 2010 @ 1:17 pm

  19. This entire exchange raises an interesting question: Is there something wrong going on when radicals, progressives, Marxists, etc. enjoy watching a Hollywood movie that contains images, premises, or historical and political constructs, which they know to be patently false?

    I am well aware of the fact that Mississippi Burning, for example, completely whitewashes the role of the FBI during SNCC’s Deep South voter registration drives of the 1960s, outrageously converting Hoover’s complicit drones into heroic agents of change. Friends and relatives of mine who put their lives on the line in that struggle have nothing but contempt for the role that Federal officials tended to play in it. I supported the protests against the film that took place upon its release and I find it extremely useful to have high school and college students who have researched and debated Freedom Summer critique Mississippi Burning in courses I teach on the history of the Civil Rights Movement. I understand the pernicious role such a movie plays in re-writing history and establishing “facts” in the minds of people who otherwise know little, if anything, about the movement or American history None of this, however, prevents me from watching Mississippi Burning when it airs on late night weekend television, suspending critical knowledge, and being thoroughly entertained by Gene Hackman’s performance as the raffish, Southern federal agent who cracks the case, boldly confronting the Klan and assorted redneck villains in the process. Frankly, I’ve been doing this kind of thing for much of my television-viewing life and there are times when I’m not sure what to make of it. Should I instead change the channel and view re-runs of Ali-Frazier boxing matches? Should I get up off the couch and insert “Salt of the Earth” or “Battleship Potemkin” or “Killer of Sheep” into my DVD player?

    I have yet to see this year’s remake of True Grit. I do recall seeing the original film version in a spacious but already shabby Grand Concourse movie house in the Bronx forty years ago with assorted cousins and my ex-Red father and uncles. None of us had anything but contempt for John Wayne the cultural icon and political spokesperson and we certainly had no illusions about Texas Rangers and the conquest of the West. Yet we couldn’t help savoring the Duke’s macho, heart-of-gold posturing at various points in the film. When we admired his taking the reins of his horse’s bridle into his teeth and charging across a valley, shotguns blazing to shoot down four outlaws coming at him from the opposite direction, were we indulging our own violent, sexist fantasies in an inappropriate manner? Were we betraying the beliefs the support for which had cost one of my uncles a very promising career?

    As an active member of the anti-war movement, I despised John Wayne’s periodic interventions into the political realm during the Vietnam War. I could not conceive of watching The Green Berets, which I regarded a sort of evil and pathetic joke. Later on, I similarly boycotted much more well-crafted films such as The Deer Hunter, whose revisionism is perhaps more insidious. Today, however, I find myself de-constructing the Duke’s old films even as I apparently relish their taking me into an albeit distorted version of the world of my youth and the world of my parents and grandparents. Should I be shunning them instead?

    As Brecht once wrote in a poem titled ‘A Worker Read History,’ “so many questions, so many particulars.

    Comment by Burghardt — December 26, 2010 @ 1:26 pm

  20. I’m with Peter and you. Thanks for the reminder about Jeff Corey.

    Johnny Reb is forever trying to rise again, and he forever needs to be smacked back down with a 2×4. The only problem with Sherman is that he stopped at the sea, and didn’t march another few swaths back and forth across the Confederacy–if he’d done that, and if the North hadn’t ended the occupation prematurely, thanks to that cowardly capitalist Yankee, Rutherford B. Hayes, the history of the country would have been much different. Why Robby Robertson (a part-Cree Canadian) wanted to glorify the white plantocracy, I don’t know. Why Joan Baez decided the song needed to be translated into her boring Yankee-folkie voice amazes me more. Hey, Robbie–the (white) South did rise again–by standing on black Southerners heads and hands. And Old Dixie continues to fly on the Mississippi state flag (with suggestions of several others).

    See “The Outlaw Josey Wales” for an unmediated film hymn to the Confederacy, based on a novel by Forrest Carter, author also of Wallace’s “Segregation today, Segregation tomorrow, Segregation forever” speech, and of the fake “Indian” autobiography, “The Education of Little Tree.” Wiki says Clint Eastwood is a member of the neo-Confederate group, Sons of Confederate Veterans.

    Comment by Jim Holstun — December 26, 2010 @ 1:31 pm

  21. Why do people think everything done in a movie is the directors way of symbolizing oppression or struggles of a certain group? Could’nt they instead just be telling a story meant to entertain? I think you will find life much more enjoyable if you just see movies for what they are. The Cogburn character kicking the kids off the porch was hilarious no matter what color they were! Lighten up on the “I’m offended by everything” take on life! GREAT MOVIE WATCHING EXPERIENCE! I WATCHED IT TWICE!

    Comment by jonathan vaughn — December 26, 2010 @ 1:42 pm

  22. This is not a movie review. It is a political diatribe. You seem (as many self-proclaimed Marxists do) to confuse fiction with reality. Come out of your dream world and disassociate fantasy from real life and perhaps you might encounter the intellectual ability to review a movie based on the film and not your predisposed political philosophies.

    Comment by Ed Akehurst — December 26, 2010 @ 2:02 pm

  23. A couple of brief points. Yes, this is absolutely a diatribe. Most of my reviews evaluate the film as art/entertainment, such as my recent reviews of “The Rabbit Hole” and “Secret Sunshine”. But when I run into something like “True Grit”, I ignore questions of performance/dialog/cinematography and hone in on the politics. I am sorry that people are upset with me for trashing the film. You have to put up with it, I’m afraid. Put yourself in my shoes. 99 percent of the left-wing books that get reviewed in the NY Times are trashed unfairly by right-wing reviewers. Now the shoe is on the other foot and you don’t like it. Sorry, boys and girls.

    Now, on the question of Rooster kicking the Indian children around because they were mistreating the horse. I have to admit that I missed this when watching the DVD but then again it required toothpicks to keep my eyelids open through much of it. But in a way the inclusion of this incident is even more egregiously unfair to American Indians whose culture revolves around respect for animals, especially the horse. I might track down Portis’s novel to see if this was part of the narrative, just out of curiosity.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 26, 2010 @ 2:19 pm

  24. Joan Baez also sang “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” Never could figure that one out.

    Comment by John B. — December 26, 2010 @ 2:38 pm

  25. Jesus, Louis! Don’t apologize to these vermin and ignorami! It only emboldens them.

    I just _know_ this’ll make ’em howl in the rhesus cage, but:

    http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2010/03/do-movie-critics-matter

    “Commerce, based on fashion and seeming novelty, always prioritizes the idea of newness as a way of favoring the next product and flattering the innocence of eager consumers who, reliably, lack the proverbial skepticism.”

    Comment by Todd — December 26, 2010 @ 3:33 pm

  26. @Burghardt: I don’t think it’s necessarily bad to enjoy politically appalling works, as long as you are willing to analyze why you like them a bit. No matter how progressive our politics, we are still the products of a diseased culture which will be reflected in our personalities and tastes. I don’t see how denying those parts of yourself will make the revolution come any faster. Of course, you can’t even properly criticize films without first seeing them. As for not wanting to support such attitudes, the marvels of technology make it very easy to watch movies without paying a cent to the studios.

    There’s also the fact that films, like all works of art, tend to be kind of complex. Even if we only consider John Wayne’s ouevre, there’s plenty of films that are hardly far-right propaganda. Stagecoach, despite its racism, is a very good treatment of the Great Depression and the wounds it left. It’s also notable for being very sympathetic to the prostitute character, even giving her a happy end with Wayne’s character. Fort Apache’s portrayal of the Native Americans leans towards the noble savage, but it rightly points to their horrid treatment in the hands of the US government. Wayne’s character in The Searchers, the miserable racist Uncle Ethan, is far from idealized. I find such contradictory impulses interesting and even aesthetically pleasing.

    Comment by VMS — December 26, 2010 @ 5:01 pm

  27. Where is the movie review??? He’s getting a lot of people to read his “review” by the shear amount of comments posted. I’m not reading this critic again, waste of time.

    Comment by Nate — December 26, 2010 @ 5:15 pm

  28. Your political correctness backfires & ironically enough, just morphs into racism. If it had been white children Cogburn kicked off the deck, there would be nothing to whine about. Kicking children is very darkly humorous. By using the kids’ race as grounds to criticize the film implies that their being indian makes them different from us, when really they’re just little humans no different from any hispanic or white six year old. You put another race on a pedestal to where they require higher treatment and respect than anyone with light skin. There you have the implication of difference and inequality, which is what political correctness supposedly stands against.

    White, yellow, peach, turquoise– what’s the difference? A kid is a kid. A human is a human. Stop taking offense for what’s done: (1) in fun, not spitefully, (2) in a film, that’s not real life, for our entertainment, and most importantly (3) to kids who are no better or worse than any other kids. It sounds like your issue is with dark comedy. You take offense on others’ behalf and have no ability to find humor in the not so light of places. Sounds like you should stay away from movies like this in general and save your political outpourings for your personal conservative hate blog.

    Comment by David — December 26, 2010 @ 5:53 pm

  29. As a fairly liberal critic myself, I think your review fails to distinguish between the values depicted in the film, and the values that the film actually promotes. You act as if the indignities suffered by minority groups during America’s westward expansion is some hidden truth that the film glosses over, but it clearly goes out of its way to present the unfair treatment of blacks and natives. Your reaction to these conditions seems to be in line with the reaction that the Coen’s intend, except that you take it a step further and actually lambast the film itself for…what, exactly? Failing to offer a moralistic presentation that unambiguously assures the audience, “THESE ATTITUDES ARE WRONG”? I thought the amorality of the character’s treatments of minorities made them more realistic and complex. Rather than serve as one-dimensional stand-ins for some political position, the characters in the film are by turns ridiculous, sympathetic, reprehensible, and heroic (well, Chaney wasn’t too heroic, but even he had his sympathetic qualities). They all have good and bad qualities and their attitudes tend to reflect what could be realistically expected from those characters during that time period. I liked it.

    Comment by Jason — December 26, 2010 @ 7:21 pm

  30. Jason, I don’t think you get what the Coens are about. Of course they don’t moralize. They are simple story-tellers but with a calculated pitch to the younger, hipper audiences that worship at the altar of irony. Mostly, I tolerate their shtick but I have simply developed too many bad associations with bushwhackers and Texas Rangers to go along with the wink-wink gag. For me, these sorts of people are the American equivalent of Nazi stormtroopers and I don’t find them endearing at all. And let’s make no mistake about this, most critics find Rooster endearing despite all his “flaws”. There is a long tradition in American movies along these lines, from Bogart in “The African Queen” to Gable in “Gone with the Wind”. I’m not buying it this time.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 26, 2010 @ 8:43 pm

  31. You are a misinformed idiot. I just love how you pick & choose historical facts to espouse your own rhetoric.

    Comment by Mike Moffett — December 26, 2010 @ 10:12 pm

  32. In the novel, a mule is choking because the wet rope tied around its neck is shrinking as it dries in the sun.

    From the novel:

    The more he tugged, the worse he made it. Two wicked boys were sitting on the edge of the porch laughing at the mule’s discomfort. One was white and the other was an Indian. They were about seventeen years of age.
    Rooster cut the rope with his dirk knife and the mule breathed easy again. The grateful beast wandered off shaking his head about. A cypress stump served for a step up to the porch. Rooster went up first and walked over to the two boys and kicked them off into the mud with the flat of his boot. “Call that sport, do you?” said he. They were two mighty surprised boys.

    Well, you can hate Wayne for his activities during the Vietnam war, but you can admire him for his incredible portrayal of a loathsome racist in The Searchers, or you can admire him for his endless roles as a man who believes in fair play and in defending honor, his and others, whether in a misguided cause or a reasonable one. You might recall his position in Fort Apache when he tries to stand for his promises and commitments to the Apaches and is removed from active duty as a result. Or you can admire his character in McLintock, who translates for, and represents his friends and former enemies, the Comanches, against the weasels who are managing their mistreatment.
    Or you can admire his talent while despising his politics, as did Phil Ochs.

    There’s a book that came out last year, Circle The Wagons, that means to defend every vile act in every unthinking Western vis a vis the Indians, insisting that those portrayals were accurate, while the softening or humanizing or defending of Native Americans in later films (Dances With Wolves, Little Big Man) serves to dishonor those who died at their hands. It’s a reverse reactionary position that is as horribly wrongheaded as any completely polarized position.

    And the bushwackers killed many people, including vast numbers of whites. They killed anybody they thought was sympathetic to the north. Ang Lee’s Race With The Devil is a pretty good picture about that.

    Comment by hcbeck — December 26, 2010 @ 10:39 pm

  33. Or you can admire his talent while despising his politics, as did Phil Ochs.

    Of course.

    Ang Lee’s Race With The Devil is a pretty good picture about that.

    It wasn’t totally awful, but I wouldn’t call it that good. I took particular exception to the idea of a Black man fighting with the bushwhackers. This is totally unlikely. For my own take on one of the most famous bushwhackers, go here:

    https://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2008/09/22/jesse-james-the-myth-and-the-man/

    Comment by louisproyect — December 26, 2010 @ 10:52 pm

  34. […] True Grit? Humbug. […]

    Pingback by Top Posts — WordPress.com — December 27, 2010 @ 12:11 am

  35. Wiki says the black character in Ride with the Devil (played, inexplicably, by Jeffrey Wright, who really must have needed the work) was based on a free black named John Noland, who rode with the odious Quantrill: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Noland. I’m not sure what Ang Lee was trying to say by emphasizing this anomaly–probably the same thing Mel Gibson or Roland Emmerich was trying to say with “Occam,” the slave who fights valiantly alongside his owners against the fiendish British in “The Patriot.”

    Alexander Cockburn (cog. with “Cogburn”?) is rightly proud of his ancestor, Admiral Sir George Cockburn, who burned down the White House with the help of some liberated American slaves.

    Comment by Jim Holstun — December 27, 2010 @ 12:45 am

  36. As I understand it, some people of mixed gentile and Jewish descent fought in the Nazi army. Why would anybody include such characters in a movie about WWII?

    Comment by louisproyect — December 27, 2010 @ 12:56 am

  37. It’s only a story. It’s just joke. Default defense of offenders aware of but unwilling to admit their own bigotries.

    Comment by Chuckie K — December 27, 2010 @ 2:13 am

  38. “As I understand it, some people of mixed gentile and Jewish descent fought in the Nazi army. Why would anybody include such characters in a movie about WWII?”

    Well this is a terrific movie based on a true story of a similar concept:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europa_Europa

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099776/

    And perhaps to answer your question I would cite Marx: “nothing that is human is foreign to me”.

    I don’t believe one should declare categorically any part of the human condition off limits to artistic exploration.

    Comment by meltr — December 27, 2010 @ 3:52 am

  39. NAACP lawyers remonstrated for years with studio big shots about shows they claimed depicted black people as imbeciles, but they were told to lighten up and enjoy the show every time. For some reason events that occurred a few miles from major studios over a few days in 1965 made studio execs revisit their stance. Many who loudly sing the virtues of “free speech” and lenten entertainment tend to have a selective interpretation and accompanying politics that doesn’t always bear a closer look.

    Comment by sk — December 27, 2010 @ 4:51 am

  40. The quote “nothing that is human is foreign to me” is Terrence (from his play “The Self-Tormentor”; Marx appropriated it as “his maxim”. I sincerely doubt this is some kind of solemn, carte-blanche approval for anything associated with the human condition.

    Whether or not he meant it in the same ironic/sarcastic way as the character who spoke the line did is another question, but I’ll bet he did: the bourgeoisie, like the character the quote is aimed at, wanted Marx to mind his own damn business instead of peeking through the door marked “No admittance except on business!”

    Comment by Todd — December 27, 2010 @ 5:08 am

  41. “I sincerely doubt this is some kind of solemn, carte-blanche approval for anything associated with the human condition.”

    Interest, exploration, examination etc. don’t imply approval and I certainly didn’t suggest the maxim did, only not to rule anything out a priori.

    BTW according to wikipedia it’s Publius Terentius Afer known as Terence in English.

    Comment by meltr — December 27, 2010 @ 5:24 am

  42. Wait … the question asked in comment #36 is sarcastic, right? Because that sounds like a far more fascinating World War II movie than most that have been made on the subject.

    My wife and I went to see True Grit this evening. We both walked away feeling it was good, but not great. It lacked depth and nuance in pretty much every area, not just its treatment of blacks and native americans. I thought the way Jeff Bridges inhabited his character was fantastic, but I don’t necessarily think the character itself was brilliantly constructed. In all honesty, I thought the movie could’ve used another 30-45 minutes, all of it focused on fleshing out the various characters.

    In general I think that the Cohen Brothers have been exploring the idea that there *is no good guy or bad guy* since their earliest work. Sometimes they’re more successful than others, but it seems to be a recurring theme of theirs nonetheless. From Raising Arizona, through Fargo and No Country for Old Men, and on to True Grit, they seem pretty intent on showing that as good or as awful as human beings are capable of being, there’s no real moral compass that’s pointing in the “proper” direction at any given time.

    Rooster says he robbed a bank, but never a man, and Mattie says that it’s all stealing just the same. Both of them are right, and both of them are wrong. Rooster fought on the side of the Confederacy and still feels many of the men he knew were heroes, but he cannot tolerate the cruelty of a couple of boys toward a helpless animal. The entire point, I think, of the Rooster Cogburn character is to show that even in a time period so often defined by black and white, good and evil, etc etc … there’s really no such thing. There are only men and women, and the things they choose to do. Morality is, by and large, a series of personal decisions, not something mandated from on high.

    True Grit is no Unforgiven – probably the best Western ever made – but I thought it was a solid film and not nearly as heavy-handed as it could have been.

    Comment by Christopher Buecheler — December 27, 2010 @ 5:39 am

  43. Oh come on–it was perfectly clear that the reason the kids got their posteriors kicked was because they were methodically tormenting an animal.
    I’m not going to comment on the rest of this ‘review’ because it’s a self-described lecture on a 2-D soapbox.

    Comment by Jeste Otterbach — December 27, 2010 @ 5:50 am

  44. Sounds like somebody has an axe to grind.

    Get over yerself ya big dope.

    Even if most of the Texas rangers, and Confederate lawmen were crooked and racist it would be okay to make a movie about a couple of them who did something good. It would perhaps challenge some of your preconceived notions. Maybe it would ease some of your own bigotry.

    I don’t think that anyone is going to put Cogburn up as a role model, but a flawed hero can still be the hero.Ahh but I am wasting my breath on this nut job.

    And Mr. nutjob it would be a waste of your time to write a reply because I will not likely stumble across your lonely angry corner of the internet a second time to hear any meaningless response you might offer.

    Comment by psych495 — December 27, 2010 @ 9:10 am

  45. It is unlikely that Hollywood would ever abide a movie depicting Jews fighting for the Nazis. Given the realities of ethnic/class power there, it is much more expected to see Blacks fighting for the Confederacy.

    Just one other comment. As I made clear in an earlier comment, I missed the incident in “True Grit” where Indian children were mistreating the horse (or mule). That does not make the movie any more believable since indigenous peoples had a much different relationship to such beasts than did the whites. More to the point, a scabrous old drunk like Cogburn does not strike me as the PETA type.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 27, 2010 @ 2:07 pm

  46. A sinking commie doesn’t want me to see True grit. I plan to catch it today

    Comment by montys — December 27, 2010 @ 2:35 pm

  47. Why is this website linked to Rotten Tomatoes, which is a movie review digest? This isn’t a movie review. Its an essay on how Lois hates actors whose politics differ from his own, and dislikes movies that don’t emphasize “Whitey: Evil” strongly enough.

    Comment by Isaac — December 27, 2010 @ 3:15 pm

  48. This is linked to Rotten Tomatoes because I am a member of New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO). When you belong to NYFCO, your reviews appear there. I have written over 600 reviews as a member of NYFCO and 97 percent of them or so deal with conventional issues of plot, dialog, acting, etc. The other 3 percent deal with politics and disregard the elements that the 99 percent of Rotten Tomatoes reviews dwell on. Now anybody with their head screwed on properly would understand what my article would be about given the capsule review that linked to it from RT. When I referred to the Texas Rangers and the bushwhackers there as “malignant forces”, it should have been obvious what I had on my mind. It was not camera angles or the performance of Matt Damon (who is far too ubiquitous nowadays, I’m afraid.) So you need to read more carefully in the future. But of course you knew what was on my mind, but you came here anyhow to complain. That’s fine. I believe in free speech even though early in my life the FBI tried to get me fired from a job for my beliefs.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 27, 2010 @ 3:27 pm

  49. meltr said:

    “Interest, exploration, examination etc. don’t imply approval and I certainly didn’t suggest the maxim did”

    No, but the manner in which you used it to answer the question sure did.

    “BTW”

    I grovel most abjectly to your obviously superior scholarship . . . .

    montys said:

    “A sinking commie doesn’t want me to see True grit. I plan to catch it today”

    Oboy! I _love_ this kind of boob!

    OK, now read this: vote for the American Nazi Pary, don’t smoke, don’t eat loads of fatty foods, get married (or if you are married, stay married).

    Let’s see, what else . . . .

    Comment by Todd — December 27, 2010 @ 4:10 pm

  50. “I don’t believe one should declare categorically any part of the human condition off limits to artistic exploration.”

    What is there about my statement above, which in no way implies approval of all manifestations of human behaviour,leads you to this erroneous observation:

    “No, but the manner in which you used it to answer the question sure did.”

    BTW hoisted by one’s own petard comes to mind:

    “I grovel most abjectly to your obviously superior scholarship . . . .”

    Comment by meltr — December 27, 2010 @ 5:13 pm

  51. Never thought the original “True Grit” was anything special, never thought much of John Wayne, whatever his politics were, etc. And don’t care if I never see the new version of True Grit. What I think is interesting about most of the responses here by many people offended by Louis’ comments remind him that the thing is simply an entertainment, but defend it mightily as though it were the holy grail. No one is preventing them from seeing the film, mind you, nor is Proyect suggesting that every copy of the film be taken out and destroyed, he’s just encouraging potential viewers to stay home. He’s simply offering a valuable service to those of us who are willing to indulge the fantasy that projects like True Grit in this country are “only a movie”. There is only so much time in life for the junk action film, and we all have our guilty pleasures we’d prefer to reserve our time for. I’m not much on remakes anyway, and as I said earlier, it’s hard enough for some of us to spend time with the originial version of this story.

    This whole slew of responses reminds me of when Louis inferred “The Dark Knight” was a long piece of humorless, violent shit that we could live without, and the Batman fanboys got worked up. He’s not saying the Central Committee should take the Coens out and have them shot for breaching proletcult protocol. He’s just saying he doesn’t think it’s a good film, he has his own political criteria for thinking so, and he says as much openly. And he’s also inferring that True Grit is artless. No big deal. Fine with me. If I’ve got twenty bucks, I’d just as soon not spend it on an evening watching two hours of weak material, and it sounds like this film is.

    As for the Band, I never trusted “The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down” either. It’s one of those things with some artists. The further they reach, the futher they can fall, and I think “The Night-” wasn’t one of their better efforts. The war and reconstruction period was too complex to be turned into a fucking anthem, and there’s no shortage of romance about the bloody confederacy in this country. Some poor whites were victimized by both the Confederacy and the Union occupation, it is indeed a tragedy, but it is one which has known far deeper tragedy through the manner in which the ruling classes of this country continue to stoke racial resentment within the class through myths of a massive white southern political disenfranchisement. The war and the occupation occurred because of a reactionary slave holder’s rebellion. Ruling class factions in both regions were responsible then, and ruling class factions in all regions of this country are responsible for the mess we still have now. No romancing of the southern mythos will change this one bit, only a ruthless clarity on the topic will.

    Comment by Michael Hureaux Perez — December 27, 2010 @ 7:24 pm

  52. Wow MHP you nailed it perfectly! Guess that makes you a “sinking commie” as well. ; )

    Sure is interesting to me how Lou’s movie reviews act as moronic troll magnets.

    Comment by meltr — December 27, 2010 @ 7:55 pm

  53. […] being kept safe, secure and ready for trial.” In entertainment and peace and violence news, Louis Proyect (The Unrepentant Marxist) has an insightful review of the just-released True Grit film. Lastly, Women’s Voices, Women Vote issued the following […]

    Pingback by Iraq snapshot (C.I.) | thecommonillsbackup — December 28, 2010 @ 12:28 am

  54. What a fascinating thread…to see the sad state of critical thinking in the U.S. when people looking for a movie review freak out when actual ideas of substance are introduced. Welcome to “The Idiocracy.” (Did you ever see that film, Louis?)

    Comment by ish — December 28, 2010 @ 12:31 am

  55. What exactly is the problem with someone discussing a film in terms of its political context & historical accuracy?

    “After seeing your new-found excoriation of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” I anticipate some dismissive notes on Hersey’s “Hiroshima,” Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five”

    That is an absurd comparison. Hersey’s book is not a lament for imperial Japan but an account of the US war crime that was the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Neither is Vonnegut’s novel a lament for the Third Reich, though it ends with the British war crime that was the fire-bombing of Dresden. It is quite possible to acknowledge these as war crimes without having the slightest sympathy for Japanese or German fascism & imperialism, whose governments & armies committed countless attrocities.

    “You seem (as many self-proclaimed Marxists do) to confuse fiction with reality”

    Not only do we recognise the difference between fiction & reality (unlike many directors & scriptwriters), but also that there is a relation between them; that reality influences fiction & vice versa.

    “there’s no shortage of romance about the bloody confederacy”

    I think maybe it has the same kind of allure as the Jacobite rising of 1745 has in Scotland. That is, it is romantiscised largely despite, or in ignorance of, it’s actual aims or the historical reality of it. This is possible precisely because it was defeated, with hindsight its defeat appears so inevitable, & it WILL NOT “rise again”. Thus its appeal extends far beyond the few isolated total nutcases who would advocate a return to chattel slavery in the US or the restoration of absolutist monarchy in Britain, & can be exploited for modern political causes (general racism in the case of the Confederacy, Scottish nationalism in the case of the ’45)

    Comment by JN — December 28, 2010 @ 1:22 am

  56. To the cognoscenti; people seriously interested in making movies; editing, direction, cinematography, or writing screenplays, the Coen Brothers (That’s tight, I capitalized ‘brothers’) deliver the goods every time. This film is no different. Though their brilliance may escape some people from film to film, it in no way reduces the reality of their efforts. The fact is they’ve finally drawn a crowd these last few years and deservedly so.

    Comment by Derek Todorojo — December 28, 2010 @ 4:48 am

  57. @55 It may surprise some people that the Union army committed war crimes against civilians during the Civil War (e.g., Sherman’s March), much as the Americans and British did during World War II. To portray the consequences of this, as the Band did in “The Night…” is not to lament the end of slavery. There is a potentially subtle message in dissociating the recognition that the underclasses always bear the brunt of war from the expected good guy/bad guy assignments, but I guess not everyone likes that kind of complexity in works of art. There are also people that would like to throw “The Merchant of Venice” on the trash heap.

    Comment by Stuart Newman — December 28, 2010 @ 6:24 am

  58. I would agree that a few of the comments here are rather jingoistic, Ish, but it always seems that these sort of reviews want to set it stone on how we should feel about a movie. Like with The Band’s song for instance, surely it’s open to interpretation and the album on which it appears nor a person who may own said record doesn’t deserve outright scorn just because of that one song?

    Comment by Jenny — December 28, 2010 @ 7:22 am

  59. Anyway, regardless of the strengths and weaknesses of this particular film (which I haven’t seen, though I probably will), this does get me trying to remember the last time I heard of an unambiguously anti-Confederate movie. I wonder if it would be hard to get financing.

    Comment by godoggo — December 28, 2010 @ 7:39 am

  60. […] being kept safe, secure and ready for trial.” In entertainment and peace and violence news, Louis Proyect (The Unrepentant Marxist) has an insightful review of the just-released True Grit film. Lastly, Women’s Voices, Women Vote issued the following […]

    Pingback by important discussion (Rebecca) | thecommonillsbackup — December 28, 2010 @ 12:42 pm

  61. @59: I fail to see how The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down addresses Union war crimes or anything else you mention. It’s a song about a soldier lamenting the defeat of the South and the death of his brother, who was apparently also a soldier. While it might be possible to perform the song in a way that would suggest the Caine family was duped by ruling class ideology, possibly with some Brechtian elements, but the Band’s anthemic version does nothing of the sort.

    Comment by VMS — December 28, 2010 @ 1:39 pm

  62. There are many reasons to dislike the new “True Grit,” but I am surprised to find this one. I have been searching for negative reviews since the review are almost uniformly full of praise. This is apparently because the Coen Brothers, whose movies routinely paint representatives of conventionality as either stupid or venal, sometimes both, are involved. John Wayne is an easy target, especially for revierers under 40 who know Wayne only through the current caricature. I do not remember him referencing the Vietnam War while Rooster Cogburn. So I do not think liking the movie or feeling he deserved his Oscar makes you a supporter or the War. As far as I recall, he did not mention it in his Oscar speech either. But I still was surprised that you criticized the movie as being a tale of the oppressive imperialistic patriarchy. And your reference to McCarthyism was classic. It once stood for accusing innocent person of being communists. In Mr. Corey’s case, it amounted to accusing a communist of FORMER communist of being a communist or FORMER communist. He had a right to be a communist? Well, didn’t Hollywood have a right not to hire him? Would you be so solicitious of Mr. Corey if he had been a Nazi in the Thirties, or would you think that Hollywood had a duty not to hire an ex-Nazi? Would you say that being “blacklisted” for a decade was about the correct punishment for being a supporter or the most dangerous and bloody political movement of the Twentieth Century? How does this moral failing (Robert Conquest estimates that Communism killed 60 million CIVILIANS) stack up against Wayne’s sad mistake of having supported his country in a war that it was destined, because of a loss of will, to lose?

    Comment by JOSEPH MCNULTY — December 28, 2010 @ 3:13 pm

  63. Of course Hollywood had a right not to hire Jeff Corey. That is called property rights, after all. This is at the bedrock of capitalism, enshrined in the writings of John Locke. At one point property rights included chattel slaves. That’s the way it goes. But Hollywood not only brought shame on itself for the blacklist, but drove out some of the brightest talents like Abe Polonsky. As far as hiring ex-Nazis are concerned, this was par for the course after WWII as Operation Paperclip points out:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Paperclip
    Operation Paperclip was the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) program used to recruit the scientists of Nazi Germany for employment by the United States in the aftermath of World War II (1939–45). It was executed by the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA), and in the context of the burgeoning Soviet–American Cold War (1945–91), one purpose of Operation Paperclip was to deny German scientific knowledge and expertise to the USSR[1] and the UK.[2]

    Although the JIOA’s recruitment of German scientists began after the European Allied victory (8 May 1945), US President Harry Truman did not formally order the execution of Operation Paperclip until August 1945. Truman’s order expressly excluded anyone found “to have been a member of the Nazi Party, and more than a nominal participant in its activities, or an active supporter of Nazi militarism.” Said restrictions would have rendered ineligible most of the scientists the JIOA had identified for recruitment, among them rocket scientists Wernher von Braun and Arthur Rudolph, and the physician Hubertus Strughold, each earlier classified as a “menace to the security of the Allied Forces”.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 28, 2010 @ 3:22 pm

  64. You missed the point of course. I know all about “Operation Paperclip.” Was von Braun a sincere Nazi? Who knows? The point was that he was not an “acknowledged” Nazi. He always DENIED Nazi leanings and said that he was just a Nazi for convenience of his desire to investigate space travel. What if he had been an acknowledged Nazi? Would Hollywood ever have hired him even before the horrors of World War II? What if he admitted that he had been a “card-carrying” Nazi, but that it “no longer interested him,” not that he rejected it as wrong and was sorry for his previous beliefs, but that it just “no longer interested him”? I do not think that you can make Mr. Corey into Whittaker Chambers.

    Comment by JOSEPH MCNULTY — December 28, 2010 @ 3:52 pm

  65. McNulty, you know far less about US-Nazi relations than you pretend to know. American corporations traded with Hitler, even after WWII began. I am going to post a reference to the research on this, but would advise you not to reply. I am literally surrounded by rightwing ideologues on American television, radio, magazines and newspapers on a 24/7 basis and the last thing I need is to debate with one on my blog.

    http://www.ibmandtheholocaust.com/
    IBM and the Holocaust is the stunning story of IBM’s strategic alliance with Nazi Germany — beginning in 1933 in the first weeks that Hitler came to power and continuing well into World War II. As the Third Reich embarked upon its plan of conquest and genocide, IBM and its subsidiaries helped create enabling technologies, step-by-step, from the identification and cataloging programs of the 1930s to the selections of the 1940s.

    Only after Jews were identified — a massive and complex task that Hitler wanted done immediately — could they be targeted for efficient asset confiscation, ghettoization, deportation, enslaved labor, and, ultimately, annihilation. It was a cross-tabulation and organizational challenge so monumental, it called for a computer. Of course, in the 1930s no computer existed.

    But IBM’s Hollerith punch card technology did exist. Aided by the company’s custom-designed and constantly updated Hollerith systems, Hitler was able to automate his persecution of the Jews. Historians have always been amazed at the speed and accuracy with which the Nazis were able to identify and locate European Jewry. Until now, the pieces of this puzzle have never been fully assembled. The fact is, IBM technology was used to organize nearly everything in Germany and then Nazi Europe, from the identification of the Jews in censuses, registrations, and ancestral tracing programs to the running of railroads and organizing of concentration camp slave labor.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 28, 2010 @ 4:13 pm

  66. Were yo going to review the movie at some point here, or just the Vietnam War, John Wayne, The South, Missouri, Andrew Jackson, Jeff Corey, Blacklisting, Jesse James, Texas Rangers…

    It’s disingenuous to have this *non-review* listed on Rotten Tomatoes.

    Comment by Dan — December 28, 2010 @ 5:00 pm

  67. Why don’t you take it up with the people who run Rotten Tomatoes? While you are at it, ask them if they can update my profile with https://louisproyect.wordpress.com instead of rec.arts.movies.reviews, my venue before hooking up with NYFCO. I have been writing them about this on and off for over 5 years to no avail. I am quite sure that they will be equally responsive to you, especially since you come across as a knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing tea party type.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 28, 2010 @ 5:04 pm

  68. Well, you’ve blocked me so in addition to being a Marxist (a self-description amazingly without irony), you are also a coward. First, you accuse me of being a “rightwinger” and not knowing as much about Nazi Germany as I “pretend” to know, and then your block my email so that I cannot post in response.

    What a coward. I never pretended to have any level of knowledge about Nazi Germany and American corporations. I just asked some questions. You, armed with the “vast resources” of Wikipedia, are the expert. Were you aware that FDR requested the identification by the Cemsus Bureau of all Japanese BEFORE Pearl Harbor and ordered them to keep no records of the request? I have no doubt that IBM (or its European subsidiary) did business with Nazi Germany before World War II. This was capitalist “rope selling” just like Armand Hammer’s flights to Moscow to negotiate oil deals in the Seventies. What’s the difference?

    Corporations could always find a reason to do business protitably, maybe not with apartheid South Africa (which had embarassing political opposition built-in), but with Soviet Russia, which could count on the media and leftist (including academe) support, and opposition, if any, only from mouth-brethers who had no megaphone and could be anathemasized — given the full Palin — or disregarded as “rightwing”).

    So what does all this have to do with “True Grit”? Is it just an excuse to repeat commonplace political tropes against an Old West backdrop?

    I guess that this is my last comment since you will probably block me as a “rightwinger” and I am running out a new email addresses.

    Comment by JOSEPH MCNULTY — December 28, 2010 @ 5:50 pm

  69. McNulty, you compare communists to Nazis. Well, I have been a communist (but not pro-Soviet) since 1967. So what in fuck’s name did you come here for? I don’t go hanging around neo-Nazi blogs or websites so why are you bothering to come here? Unless I have missed something doing a google search on your email address, you are a lawyer. Over the years, my experience is that lawyers love to hear themselves talk so that is the main reason I am banning you. If you had it your way, you’d be going tit-for-tat over every stupid talking point that NPR or Rush Limbaugh listeners have mastered. I don’t know if you are a rightwinger or a liberal, but frankly I don’t give a shit. I have no interest in discussing politics with you so bye-bye.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 28, 2010 @ 6:42 pm

  70. Communism — “democratic centralism” — in action. And I resent being lumped with the neo-Nazis. I never said anything favorable about Nazis or neo-Nazis, that murderous bunch.

    Comment by JOSEPH MCNULTY — December 28, 2010 @ 7:03 pm

  71. May I suggest that you change your blog site name to “The Unrepentent Flangeist” since you are entirely intolerant of dissent.

    Comment by JOSEPH MCNULTY — December 28, 2010 @ 7:06 pm

  72. Flangeist? God, what a fucking idiot. A flange is something that you buy at an auto parts store. You must have meant Falangist or Phalangist, the movement that Franco led. They say that 40 percent of Americans believe that the earth is 10,000 years old so we are obviously dealing with a backward society. Creationists and people who don’t know the difference between flange and falange are not welcome here.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 28, 2010 @ 7:14 pm

  73. One would think engaging in bait-and-switch would be the sole purview of evil capitalists. Apparently, one would be wrong and even a pure and altruistic Marxist will engage in deception to reach the masses. How clever to conceal your political diatribes amongst movie reviews. Even better to be one of the few negative reviews amongst overwhelmingly positive reviews to further lure in the curious.

    Of course–in this day and age with Marxism all but confined to the dustbin of history–how else to get anyone with better things to do to with their time to read “The Unrepentant Marxist.” Lenin, Trotsky, Ho Chi Minh and Che would all be so sad to see that it has come to this.

    Comment by Donald — December 28, 2010 @ 7:26 pm

  74. Apparently, one would be wrong and even a pure and altruistic Marxist will engage in deception to reach the masses.

    What is deceptive about this?

    Another “edgy” movie by the Coens filled with the usual comic mixture of sadism and misanthropy, this time expressed through its two lead male characters, a bushwhacker veteran and a Texas Ranger, two of America’s most malignant forces.

    This was my capsule review on Rotten Tomatoes. Wasn't that clear that I had a political objection to the movie? Maybe some of the people raising a stink here don't know what malignant means. Maybe they thought it meant "mental". I am afraid that someone's comment about the movie "Idiocracy" was far too accurate.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 28, 2010 @ 7:31 pm

  75. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that this post is the one generating the most comments around here. Obviously, very few care about anything else you write about but many are irritated at following a link to what they thought would be a dissenting movie review and instead wind up in an online version of the Cultural Revolution.

    As far as your attempts at re-education go, I think it’s only appropriate to paraphrase another movie by the Coen brothers and I’ll just release myself on my own recognizance.

    Comment by Donald — December 28, 2010 @ 7:57 pm

  76. …in a way the inclusion of this incident is even more egregiously unfair to American Indians whose culture revolves around respect for animals, especially the horse.

    kind of a strange thing to say considering horses weren’t native to the americas by the time europeans started showing up and promptly started doing about as much as they could to eradicate the culture you’re referring to.

    Comment by respjrat — December 28, 2010 @ 10:42 pm

  77. If this site wasn’t linked to RT there would probably be two responses.

    A review is not the place to tie on your ideas about politics or rationale for your world view, devoid of any references to the flick. Its a place to review the fucking movie.

    Comment by John — December 29, 2010 @ 1:28 am

  78. Actually, I got about twice as many complaints the last time I trashed a Coen Brothers movie. And that was a straightforward review of “No Country for Old Men”:

    https://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2007/11/19/no-country-for-old-men/

    Here’s the deal. People love these guys and they can’t stand it when someone says that they don’t like their latest and greatest masterpiece. Well, whatever. If I get thrown in prison for saying that their latest movie is rotten, you could put me in the cell next to Julian Assange.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 29, 2010 @ 1:35 am

  79. Interesting and valid perspective. Thanks for the thoughtful review, even though I enjoyed the movie.

    Comment by giantslor — December 29, 2010 @ 4:03 am

  80. “What a fascinating thread…to see the sad state of critical thinking in the U.S. when people looking for a movie review freak out when actual ideas of substance are introduced. Welcome to “The Idiocracy.” (Did you ever see that film, Louis?)”

    Oh goodness–if the level of discourse in this review, or these comments, qualify these days as “ideas of substance,” then truly, Idiocracy is neigh.

    Comment by Words — December 29, 2010 @ 6:30 am

  81. Thanks for an interesting review and i enjoyed your energy. But, alas, your review and arguments are also vulnerable to several criticisms (Aren’t we all? i’m sure mine is too).

    btw, i came upon this website while i was google searching for the “indian punting” scene in the 2010 movie i just watched yesterday. I found that scene (along with others) very interesting and wished to find people’s perspectives on it.

    Upon reading your review, i find it amusing that you assume you know better than others, particularly the film makers. As a matter of fact, that’s what (American) critical thinking education teaches. Criticizing literatures or films (especially in such a confident or gallant manner as yours, the “unrepentant Marxist”), for example, assumes that you know the film makers’ intentions and motivations. So this is not simply your fault, but something human beings who grow up with today’s education are extremely predisposed to. (Inception, as i see it, is an important movie of this generation because it criticzes exactly that; never take for grated or assume so readily that you know better than the others, often it is the seeming stupidty that fools us)

    Now, here i am, like you did to the Coen brothers’ films, criticaly reviewing your review. So i “confess” (as you confessed you were prejudiced from the start upon watching this film) that i am assuming what you wrote here is one-dimensional and does not contatin secondary intentions or “ulterior motives” as they say. To be honest, sometimes i suspected that you were trolling, because, as a matter of fact, you might need to troll on the internet space to get attention and get reviews and comments like that of mine. Otherwise, a lot of people do not really care about this review of a review, or a review of a film. Trolling would feed your own website and provoke people to provide you with reactions, which you need to propel yourself as an unrepentant Marxist.

    okay, i’ll just give you one example of where your analysis of the film is one-dimensional and shows that you seem to be enjoying your own self-conceited perspective too much (some prejudiced, some not absolutely). So here is what you had to say about the indian punting scene:

    “Cogburn and Mattie, the fourteen year old played by Hailee Steinfeld, come upon a meager looking farmhouse in Chocktaw Territory that is home to Indians, including a couple of children sitting on the porch. As he enters the house to find out if the inhabitants have any knowledge of the whereabouts of Tom Chaney, he kicks the children on his way up the stairs. For good measure, he kicks them on the way out. What point were the Coens trying to make, that Cogburn was not a nice guy? I think that was pretty well established from the outset. Audiences would probably get a chuckle out of this since it is part and parcel of the sadism that pervades Coen movies. But using Indian children as butts for this kind of humor is pretty tasteless in my view. One imagines that it would be off-limits to see Black children being kicked around in this manner, but Indians are a different story apparently.”

    Again, i’m not sure if you were pretending to be one-dimensional in analyzing and criticizing other people’s work, because this manifests a reasoning so manifetly flawed and bigoted. Why do you assume that the Coen brothers put that scene with no meaningful intention or motivation aside from to “show that Cogburn is not a nice guy.” You even assume that this scene is meant as a “humor.” Didn’t it ever come to your mind that a scene like this is there not to be a crass humor as you see it but to, in the end, criticize the Westerns of the past? It shows how wrong this official/outlaw hero (Cogburn is interesting in that he is kind of both at the same time) of this movie is. It shows how prejudiced he is and how racist he is. It shows, as numerous other scenes of the film do, how imperfect this “hero” is or what we call a hero is. In the end, it comes down to criticizing the fabricated masculine hero and heroism of the American Westerns.

    Sure, some racist, and some people will find this scene amusing. However, the scene is played out in so cavalier and chauvinistic manner that it is absolutely ridiculous and deserves critcism. In fact, i believe that a scene like this is exactly meant to provoke the kind of reaction you supplied: to see how wrong this entire genre has been throughout the history; plus to see how wrong the entire history has been regarding, for example, American Indians. The film makers want such reaction from the viewers.

    (also think about the scene where three men are being hanged: First, two white men are at least given an opportunity to give their last words before death, before the fickle crowd watching their hanging, and before their very last and yet very embarassing moment. Then, the film shows, a man of seemingly American Indian descendent saying something like, “Before I’m hanged, I’d like to say…” and BAM, he is silenced. This is very obviously on-your-face, shut-the-fuck-up for you’re an Indian, lolz-just-die that it should be ridiculous and lead the audience to think how wrong all this is.

    I, for one, think that the Coen brothers had a lot of pressure to do right in remaking this Western. In fact, I am most inclined to interpret that the Coen brothers did the remake in order to show how wrong many of the Western films were. Remaking a film of a genre that is so readily criticized for its racist assumptions, biases, injustices, and violence is not an easy task or a task to be taken lightly to film makers with reputation to maintain. The Coen brothers must have been aware that doing this remake is a very political act and task, and that they have the power to do something that can help correct the wrongs of the past. Sometimes you have to do the wrong thing right to do the right. Sometimes you have to go into the cave to catch the tiger (or rattle snakes).

    The Indian punting scene, for example, was not in the original film (which, admittedly, i watched after happening to see the 2010 version, because it sparked an interest in me to go back in history of this franchise and study what this was all about). The Coen brothers must be aware that they have a name which will draw in a crowd and critics. They do a “remake,” which may get 10 stars on entertainment rating and may also provoke at least some political dialogues and reexamination of history and history of films. Moreover, the film also takes an interesting stance on justice, the justice system, and how they have been in American history. Again, as i said, this film provkes the audience to think about what is right, what is justice, and what is it to “Do the right thing.”

    I realize that i have used only one specific textual evidence from your review, and you may in want of at least another. Here goes another:

    This is especially true of the Tom Chaney character hunted throughout the film. Perhaps the casting of an actor normally assigned “good guy” roles (Josh Brolin), the Coens give tacit acknowledgment that the man is simply not in the same league with memorable villains such as the gunslinger Jack Wilson (Jack Palance) in “Shane” or the sadistic Sheriff Dad Longworth (Karl Malden) in “One -Eyed Jacks”, so clearly an inspiration for Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman) in “Unforgiven”. Unlike all these powerful, carefully etched characters, Chaney is amorphous and seemingly unmotivated. Perhaps the film would have had more dramatic power if the Coens had included an initial scene that depicted Chaney brutally attacking Mattie Ross’s father and taunting him while he was dying. But who am I to give the Coens advice. After all, they are the John Fords and Howard Hawks of our age (god help us) and I am merely the unrepentant Marxist.

    yeah, this is also an obvious one. The film has a very interesting perspective on justice. From some of the earlist scenes in the film such as the hanging of three men, we see that determining what is right and what is wrong – what is justice and what is not – who is to be hanged and who is not to be – or, who is to be and who is not to be (as in “exist” in a commonsense, non-philosophical sense)- is not a simple task.

    You take the film makers’ not supplying Tom Chaney character with some mean history to “give him development” or not make him a “shallow and undeveloped villain” as a mistake. Looking at other parts of the film regarding justice (such as the one i mentioned in last paragraph), however, inclines me to think that that also is intended. Like the first man who cries out in his futile defense before being hanged, Tom Chaney might have been a different man. His character might not be so simple as to have a mean history which makes him (for the audience) look more developed and deep (as opposed to shallow). As a matter of fact, it is the self-justified and yet relentless pursuit of Mattie Ross and Rooster Coburn (and, yeah, the Texas Ranger) which then also deserves a critical look. The 1969 film lacked this. The 2010 film does not. The whole film (of 2010) is shrewdly critical of the girl and her intention too. It plays her out as more of a Lady Macbeth character (in her some charactier-defining charactersitics) such as goading the men by attacking their masculinity to achieve what she wants. This film questions if doing something for the girl is really and simply the right thing to do. It questions the justifications for the masculinity that prior Westerns have taken for granted, celebrated, and established.

    Of course, the film is better made than i just made it sound like, and have room for more interpretations. The gender politics aspect too is subject to interpretations, and the obvious interpretation at the suface level such as Mattie being a rather strong female heroine also deserves existence. Nonetheless, the film makes people think twice about if carrying this girl is really the right thing to do – and if carrying this girl and the fat, old (and white) man on the black horse (the blackness of this horse is, unlike the 1969 film, highlighted in the last scene as well as the first scene it is introduced where the black boy who “shall not utter Mattie’s name” gives/introduces the horse to Mattie.

    you’re right, i’m beinning to ramble and there are too many points to make about this interesting movie. And yet, what is more clear by now is that this film is not as simple as you make it out to be.

    That was my point.

    Comment by olive27k — December 29, 2010 @ 6:33 pm

  82. a man of seemingly American Indian “descendent” -> “descent”

    and whole bunch of words and word order i wish i could rearrange, but this intraweb space doesn’t allow that. I like it! it’s meant to encourage us to have a benefit of doubt on reading comments (which are, in a sense, incorrigible in this website), right?
    Is the main post also incapable of being edited and deserves the same level of benefit of doubt as its comments?

    Comment by olive27k — December 29, 2010 @ 7:00 pm

  83. This is a Western movie, not a graduate-study seminar. Speaking about the color of a horse is madness. Obscure and imagined points in the movie become the cause of a intellectual “circle-jerk.”

    The original movie had no racism in it. In fact, Rooster is friends with and jokes with two Indians who run McAlister’s store, where he repairs after the shootout at the cabin.

    Comment by JOSEPH MCNULTY — December 29, 2010 @ 7:56 pm

  84. Idiot. He kicked the little indian kids because they were torturing the donkey. Pretty simple connection to make. Donkey wailing,kids poking with sharpened sticks,he frees the donkey then kicks the kids. wow 1+1=racism

    Comment by Hogan — December 29, 2010 @ 11:29 pm

  85. I should have mentioned some time ago that there is at least one other Rotten Tomatoes critic who has the same kind of objections as me, but more from a “critical theory” standpoint than Marxism:

    On another hand, in accordance with the film’s dominat(e)-ion narrative, as far as non-whites go, they are essentially non-existent in a film whose heroes, in addition to everything else backwards in the film, fought on the Confederate side. There are two African Americans, both there to serve their white masters. While their general discard warrants little attention, the film’s treatment of Native Americans is deplorable. Essentially there are three scenes with Native Americans, each time they are used as a comical ploy — to considerable and uneasy effect at the screening I attended. The Condemned Indian (Jonathan Joss) is silenced and executed and the audience laughed. The second involves Indian Youth (Brandon Sanderson and Ruben Nakai Campana) being literally kicked around by Rooster and the audience laughed. The third… It seems it is Ok to wash away the Trail of Tears with laughter.

    Conversely, the much more positive area of True Grit, there is plenty of that crisp dialogue — here greatly aided by the film’s rather faithful adaptation of the novel (so I am reliably informed) — we can almost always expect from a Coen Bros. film. In particular, LaBoeuf, who is a more interesting, amiable and original character than Rooster, offers a humorous, often witty, proud way of looking at life as a Texas Ranger.

    As far as acting, the accolades are slow in pouring for Bridges, Steinfeld and company. They were ignored at Golden Globes and only garnered two at the recent SAG nominations, including an absurd Best Supporting Actress nomination for Steinfeld whose character is present in well over 80 percent of the film. Last year’s Oscar winner for Crazy Heart, Bridges performance as Rooster illustrates what a political charade it was when Wayne won Best Actor (who laughably beat out Jon Voigt and Dustin Hoffman for their performances in Midnight Cowboy). Steinfeld is definitely headed for some major roles after her feature film debut. Not only does she show dramatic range, Steinfeld can be funny. In a scene where Mattie haggles over horses, Steinfeld performs with an impressive amount of confidence and comic timing. Thanks to Steinfeld, Mattie is probably the funniest female character in the Coen Bros. oeuvre since Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Amy Archer in The Hudsucker Proxy (1994).

    No doubt many will favorably compare True Grit to the vastly overrated No Country for Old Men (2007) and rightfully so. They both share beautiful landscape cinematography by Richard Deakins (who also did this year’s superior film, The Company Men), nostalgia for a mythical American past, violence, clever characters, some hilarious dialogue and a political ideology very much right of center. Add the female protagonist aspect and I see no reason why someone like Sarah Palin would not love this film.

    full: http://jestherent.blogspot.com/2010/12/film-review-true-grit.html

    Comment by louisproyect — December 30, 2010 @ 12:53 am

  86. I guess he really, really disliked the film. He mentioned the name that must not be mentioned except to mock: Sarah Palin. I do not think she was in the film or even mentioned. Who knew she loved Westerns?

    Comment by JOSEPH MCNULTY — December 30, 2010 @ 1:58 am

  87. Sounds like communists just don’t know how to enjoy a good cowboy movie

    Comment by Robert Knight — December 30, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

  88. Was “True Grit” a good cowboy movie? I guess that depends on how you define good. Of course, the Coen brothers–the darlings of Hollywood and the enlightened middle-class–seem incapable of making a bad movie. That’s the kind of privileged status that Woody Allen enjoyed until they pointed out that the emperor was not wearing any clothes.

    I think these are far better:

    1. Unforgiven
    2. One-Eyed Jacks
    3. Shane
    4. Magnificent Seven
    5. Johnny Guitar
    6. High Noon
    7. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
    8. Ride the High Country
    9. The Wild Bunch
    10. McCabe and Mrs. Miller (the best of them all)

    Comment by louisproyect — December 30, 2010 @ 4:11 pm

  89. Those movies all all worthy, especially “McCabe and Mrs. Miller,” but I still think that you are denigrating “True Grit” for political reasons (oppressed Indians, hangings without Miranda rights, gunplay without due process, no recognition of women’s rights). When Ned Pepper in the first movie threatens to shoot Mattie, Rooster says, “Well, Ned, you do what you think is best.” But he KNOWS that Ned Pepper will not shoot a defenceless girl. Mattie asks Ned Pepper, “Do you need a good lawyer?” He answers, “I need a good judge.” After the climtic shootout, Ned Pepper, wounded, rides over to a defenceless Rooster Cogburn and says, without rancour: “Rooster, I’m shot to pieces.” He and Rooster understand the rules. There are no rules in the lawless Indian Territory. A man takes his chances and accepts his fate. You don’t need Coen Brothers irony to understand that.

    Comment by JOSEPH MCNULTY — December 30, 2010 @ 4:38 pm

  90. McNulty, you have too much time on your hands it would appear. Has your legal work dried up?

    Comment by louisproyect — December 30, 2010 @ 5:06 pm

  91. Why are you such a disagreeable, snarky person? What have I ever done or said to offend you or deserve such sarcasism? I refuse to respond accordingly. Meanwhile, the left can continue like you and congradulating itself on it “civility.”

    Comment by JOSEPH MCNULTY — December 30, 2010 @ 5:17 pm

  92. What did you do? You drew a fucking moral equivalence between Nazis and communists, that’s what. My grandmother’s relatives got exterminated in Warsaw by Nazis. I became a communist in 1967 because I hate brutality, lawlessness, racism and greed. Now I don’t mind that you have these bullshit ideas about people like me being somehow equivalent to stormtroopers, most Americans do. Just don’t expect any kind of courtesy here. Frankly, you are coming close to getting your email address in the spam filter already.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 30, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

  93. What are you talking about? I never compared you to a Nazi. So don’t to make me responsible for every evil act of the Nazis. I only pointed out that communism has more blood on its hands than EVEN the Nazis, which is not to say that the Nasis’ industrialization of murder was not a new wrindkle in mass killing and more efficient that what the communists usually did. Is this false? Hitler killed six million Jews and perhaps seven million others, including Communists and Soviet prisoners of war. Stalin presided over the engineered Ukrainian famine which killed 20 million. That is just for openers. How many Chinese were killed in the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution? Have you real Solzhenitsyn on the Gulag? As an independent Communist not beholden to the old Soviet Union you must agree with Gorbachev, who described Stalin’s crimes as “immense and unforgivable”? His crimes can be compared to Hitler’s, yes? Not that this is to defend Hitler. My father drove a tank in Patton’s army against Hitler.

    Comment by JOSEPH MCNULTY — December 30, 2010 @ 5:37 pm

  94. You condemned Jeff Corey who never killed anybody. The Communist Party in the USA was a peaceful, law-abiding political group that fought for civil rights, peace and democratic rights. It was wrong to support Stalin but much of that support was based on ignorance of what was really going on in the 1930s. After all, the NY Times backed Stalin’s Moscow Trials. After the Khrushchev speech, most people left the CP. In fact, Corey quit long before that speech for the right reasons. I don’t like red-baiters. You are a red-baiter, even though you probably aren’t aware of it. One of my closest friends is a guy named Paul Buhle who wrote the book “Tender Comrades: A Backstory of the Hollywood Blacklist” that is cited in my review.

    Finally, the USA has more blood on its hands than either Hitler or Stalin. It does not matter that it was “democratic” when it carried out these crimes. There were tens of millions of Indians living here before the British came. By 1900 there was less than 3 million. Millions of Africans died in slave ships in the Middle Passage. Andrew Jackson, a Democrat, orchestrated the “Trail of Tears” while Jefferson was a slave owner.

    This sanctimonious bullshit about what a terrible guy Stalin or Hitler was is what you’d expect from a country that has won every major war in its history. One of these days it will lose to a superior power and its leaders will be put in the docks just like the Nazis, with people like Henry Kissinger and Rumsfeld facing stiff prison terms (I don’t think that a victor would use the death penalty.) As they say, history is written by the winners but eventually America will be the loser. It happens to every Empire in history and we are no different than the Romans.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 30, 2010 @ 6:00 pm

  95. If you are so ashamd of America, why don’t you emigrate to Cuba or something. Why stay in a county whose history you despise or are ashamed of? I have no objection to Mr. Corey being in “True Grit.” He was excellent. The point was that this was a man who at some earlier point thought that communism was admirable. It is untrue that no one knew of Stalin’s crimes. It is true that The New York Times had a fellow-traveling correspondent who intentionally obscured unfavorable news about the Soviet Union. The role of the U. S. Communist party was shown when the party went from anti-Hitler to pro-Hitler overnight when the Hitler-Stalin was signed. The Venona intercepts show that the party was always, in the Thirties and Forties, under the control and guidance of Moscow. Mr. Corey, like others, has to face up to the fact that he BELIEVED in a party under the control of a foreign power, drenched in blood.

    Comment by JOSEPH MCNULTY — December 30, 2010 @ 6:25 pm

  96. Archie Bunker McNulty: If you are so ashamd of America, why don’t you emigrate to Cuba or something.

    Me: Because I am working to persuade Americans to adopt a socialist system. Once that is done, we are going to send a detachment down to your gated community and seize all your Reader’s Digests.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 30, 2010 @ 6:34 pm

  97. Thought you knew what you were talking about – until I read the line that you didn’t like NO COUNTRY. Okay – I didn’t like True Grit either – but you’re just dumb. No Country was a great movie – though certainly no where in the league of “There Will Be Blood” – the masterwork that should have won that year.

    Comment by allen — December 31, 2010 @ 2:11 am

  98. God save me from the fans of Hollywood blockbusters. I only watch movies made by the Coen Brothers et al because I get free screeners from the studio and because I have an obligation to cover them as a member of NYFCO that orients to mainstream movies. People who consider “No Country For Old Men” great have never seen Gillo Pontecorvo or Ousmane Sembene. Those men really made great movies.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 31, 2010 @ 2:17 am

  99. The biggest thrill for me as an adolescent was catching a good adventure yarn, usually a story full of danger, deeds derring-do, in far away places with “exotic” locales, exotic “natives,” well choreographed fight scenes and battles, etc. I truly relished these cheap B-movie thrills and would do just about anything to find a way to sneak out of the house just to lose myself in Hollywood’s cinematic dream world of “the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark!”

    That’s all well and good as a fantasy. However, just as I remember how I felt when I found out that there wasn’t a real Santa Claus or Three Wise Men (in Latin America, that is), I also recall how dumbfounded and let down I felt to suddenly realize that the very people being patronized, marginalized and ridiculed up on the screen were the people I felt compelled to empathize with, since I was the “native,” the exotic “foreigner”: the Other. I felt I had more than a good reason to believe that all the redeeming traits (albeit rendered in a third rate storyline) were reserved for the West(ern) hero who commanded total screen space and time with his cohorts while looking for ways to rid the world of the evil yellow-black-brownies of the world who would stop at nothing to thwart his/their plans to make the world a “better place to live”.

    As I got older I became even more aware of the cultural manipulation and deliberate attempt on the part of those who hold sway to create art in their own image, while also availing themselves of anything that smacked to them of inferior, ignorant or “exotic” to use as mere prop. The trick has always appeared to be to set in motion a perennial universal narrative with the same protagonists: a tired old us-versus-them, the-west-against-the-east, cops-versus-robbers, and one of the most enduring of them all: cowboys versus Indians. In my revisionist outlook I would consider the Western to be on of the most reactionary and biased cinematic genres with an intellectual conceit of superiority employed ad nauseam as a club in a most misguided, and yes, misanthropic manner.

    Be that as it may, I do not think that the Western is by far the most deserving of the opprobrium or contempt leveled on it on the part of those at the receiving end. Let us not forget that also, in the biblical world of the iniquity of the human race -as evil and perverse and deserving tough love, salvation and redemption- the good old Cops-and-robbers as the ultimate expression of the right-wing, fascist ideology has diligently served to further advance the notion of how much justice -read, violence- is needed also to rid the world of the criminal element and undesirables terrorizing society -read, ethnic minorities, the poor, illegal immigrants, etc. In fact, so much of the typical narrative found in the Cop movies pretends to mirror what happens in real life, but in reality fails horribly at this simply by neglecting to expose the prejudice and injustices permeating it, becoming in many ways a purveyor of bigotry and discord among the people in their routine rendition and stereotypical portrayal of those deemed criminals and outside the law.

    I am not necessarily conveying the idea that every major Hollywood producer is out to conceive a predetermined script demeaning and derogatory of the non-White community. What is in fact a pattern never broken is the constant pattern of almost seamless ideological conformity being preached with little end in sight even in our so called information age. Ironically, the most “civilized” we become, the more we lose our humane side by giving in to unquestioned, uninformed ignorance and mindless bias.

    Yes, I still watch some of the typical self-serving movie fare; conversely, I do not have to feel at ease, or brush off as trivial the massive, incessant onslaught of stereotypical characters rendered in a prepackaged formulaic story line. People do reserve the right to write their own history, and story line too.

    Comment by Frank — December 31, 2010 @ 5:10 am

  100. > Stalin presided over the engineered Ukrainian famine which killed 20 million.

    That is a ridiculous Cold War claim. There was a famine in 1932-3 which killed about 2.6 million Ukrainians, 1.2 million others in the Volga, and probably some hundreds of thousands of others in the rest of the USSR, about 4.5 milion or so total. It was not an engineered famine but resulted from crop failure caused by natural disaster in the year 1932. Even a Cold War liar like Robert Conquest has quietly backed off from the claim that there was no crop failure. The crop failure was badly understood by Soviet officials since rustic plant disease allowed the grain stalks to grow with fewer grains therein, hence creating an impression of an adequate crop.

    > Have you real Solzhenitsyn on the Gulag?

    The purges of the 1930s involved many hundreds of thousands of totally unnecessary executions, but Solzhenitsyn is not a good primary source for anything. He was the one who invented the ridiculous “66 million” fairy tale. Books like Oleg Khlevniuk, THE HISTORY OF THE GULAG, or Getty & Naumov, THE ROAD TO TERROR, are more reliable for the scale of executions and labor camp deaths which actually occurred without exaggeration. In general, the demographic patterns of Soviet Russia show that the country went from having a pre-revolutionary mortality rate (30.9 in 1913 per thousand in those regions which remained part of the USSR, 30.2 for the Czarist empire as a whole including places like Poland and Finland) which was more than twice that of the United States (13.8 in 1913) down to a level in the late 1950s which around the same level as the USA. There was a partaial backslide in the 1960s, but not to anything like the higher death rates which had existed in Czarist Russia. It’s absolutely ridiculous Cold War propaganda when people make up charges like “20 million,” “60 million” and what not.

    > How many Chinese were killed in the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution?

    A famine occurred in China in 1960 that was again caused by natural disaster, and was in turn aggravated by a failure of Chinese officials to comprehend what was going on. This famine was in no way unusual by the standards of China, which was traditionally regarded by westerners as “the land of famine.” There have been lots of numbers tossed around when discussing the famine of 1960, but the thing to realize is that the methodology by which such numbers are arrived at is no way comparable to that used for assessing pre-revolutionary famines. What every demographic study of China has accepted is that in the first years after the revolution China achieved a drop in mortality rates which brought death rates to about 60% of the mortality rate in Czarist Russia in the year 1913. That means China by 1957 had achieved an unprecedentedly mortality rate for its population. That death rose some in 1958, rose a little bit more in 1959, spiked upward for 1960, dropped back down to a level that was still higher in 1961 than it had been in 1957, and proceeded from there on to drop down. The only one of these years which actually shows a death rate which was higher than the normal death rates on a year-by-year basis in Czarist Russia is 1960, and the estimated death rate for that year (44.6 per thousand) is no different than what would have been seen in many previous Chinese famines. The reason you may hear lower numbers given for all of the multitudes of other famines which China went through is that when people estimate 2, 5, or 9 million as a death toll for other famines they assume a mcuh higher normal mortality rate from the onset. If you take the mortality rate of 1957 (18.12 per thousand) and use that as a basis for judging earlier famines then all of the estimates from these would have to be magnified many times over.

    Comment by PatrickSMcNally — December 31, 2010 @ 2:40 pm

  101. Thanks for the context. It helped me understand why True Grit left me feeling uneasy and complicit. Kind of dirty. And why I am increasingly reluctant to see Hollywood movies – I’m susceptible to them then feel like a sucker. This movie was a souped up fraud. We are supposed to cheer a precocious innocent in her quest for retribution – enjoying the steady stream of mutilated and dead bodies along the way. It helps they all speak in a literary style – makes everyone feel smarter as the bodies pile up. The beauties of nature and soundtrack’s religious invocation add to the goo. Sorry – even though it had a story line and there was dramatic tension and all that, I couldn’t help but think of the coming Republicans and their mania for loaded weapons, claiming the America of True Grit as their own.

    Comment by Jeff Middleton — January 1, 2011 @ 12:37 am

  102. Art is the fiction that exposes the truth of the human condition. The art object rests on its own as a reflection of the artist’s intent. In this instance, the Coen’s TRUE GRIT is a film that embraces the novel more closely than its predecessor. Yet, this dialogue never addresses the novel, its content, or the remakes interptretation of the writer’s intent. Instead, I am reading about Nazi’s, blacklists, Ukranians, WW11, Stalin,et.al., and not surprisingly, from individuals who have not read the book or viewed the movie.

    As an artist, I am appalled at any critic who would let his/her politics blind their aesthetic capabilities and judgement. Should there be a lamblast against Jackson Pollock because he doesn’t make the socially “relevent” images of Ben Shan? Of course not. Does this mean this kind of “Art criticism” is clouded with preconceived notions and fails any objectivity test? Yes. Being part of group {in this instance NYFCO} does not infer credibility.

    The Coens’ TRUE GRIT is an adaption of a novel that reflect the American West in a particular time and place; addressing human foibles, contradictions, and issues of morality. Those issues and the acting/production quality of the film should be the critics starting point. Excuse me, I forgot, all that gets in the way of this critics political agenda.

    An aside – How come there is no discussion of the films ending with Iris Dement’s rendition of LEANING ON THE EVERLASTING ARMS which implies “Christian” redemption and salvation. How does that relate to the Coen’s depiction of the film/novels’ characters and content? Oh, I forgot, I saw the movie and most of you haven’t.

    Comment by R. Llewellyn — January 2, 2011 @ 12:04 am

  103. There is nothing wrong with the new “True Grit.” It is compently made and well-acted. The problem is that the entire project is WRONG-HEADED.

    Why remake the original “True Grit”? The explanation is a desire to “return to the novel.” The presumption is that somehow the first movie was not true to the novel. The second explanation is a desire to return to the formal language of the novel’s dislogue. The “reasons” are BOGUS. The new movie is the same story as the first, AND 90 PERCENET OF THE DIALOGUE IS EXACTLY THE SAME. The first movie also featured the strange, formal lauguae, although it was delivered so naturally that you soon began to think of it as “normal.”

    I admit that it may be hard to understand’s Jeff Bridges’ dislogue since he choose to deliver each line as if he had his mouth full of chewing tobacco, but whatever.

    Another “reason” is to tell the story from Mattie’s viewpoint. The story has always been told from her viewpoint. Listen to the words of the theme song. The movie had always really been about Mattie’s “True Grit,” not Rooster Cogburn’s. The first movie did lack the coda of “spinster Mattie,” a coda that is self-important and adds nothing to the story. Rooster Cogburn is dead and off-screen in it!

    The original movie had Rooster visiting a convalescing Mattie, who offered him a plot in the family cemetery. She is worried that he will end up in “some neglected patch of weeds.” He reluctantly accepts, provided that he does not have to move in too soon. She remarks that, as expected, he has bought another big horse. He says, “He’s not as game a Beau, but Stonehill says he can jump a three-rail fence.” She tells him that he is too old and too fat to be jumping horses. He mounts his horse and shouts, hat in hand, “Well, come see a fat old man some time.” And then he and the horse jump the fence, demonstrating again his “True Grit” and wild humor. Now this “coda” means something in terms of the story. What does the new movie’s coda mean besides Coen Brothers pretention?

    Why is this movie so well-reviewed? I can only assume that it is equal parts Coen Brothers worship and John Wayne hatred — a review of his political beliefs, rather than the movie.
    I prefer the first movie, not because I favor John Wayne’s political beliefs. Would you dislike the new movie if you found out Jeff Bridge was antiabortion?

    I cannot think of any way the new movie is not inferior to the first. It is grey and drab (this is hailed as remarkable cinematography), lacks the humor of the rollicking John Wayne, and foregoes the beautiful vists of Henry Hathaway’s mountin scenry and the stirring score of Elmer Bernsteim. On the other hand, I liked Barry Pepper’s chaps, the likes of which I have not seen since Tom Mix.

    How can anyone think that the new “horse trading” scene matches that of the great Strother Martin? As Col. Stonehill, he is about to explode at Mattie in frustration and anger, but has to hold his temper because she is a mere girl. It is a masterpiece of comic timing. Later, she returns and he says, “I heard that a young girl fell down a well on the Towson Road. I thought it might be you.” Mattie misses his mordant humor.

    Have you ever known a manhunt in the Old West to continue at night (when you cannot track anyone) and snow? Why does LaBoeuf (a miscast Matt Damon in the new movie) disappear and reappear?
    wouldn’t you stick with your party in the wilderness, whatever you relationship with Rooster Cogburn? Perhaps these are shortcomings of the novel as well.

    I like the Coen Brothers. “Raising Arizona” was an antic and surreal comedy. But “The Hudsucker Proxy” was a mess. I enjoy watching “Miller’s Crossing,” but I realize it is without significance. “Fargo” was a small masterpiece. But “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou,” while fun to watch, was self-consconscously arty and pretentious. So what’s the verdict? Their work varies in quality. Here, they have triedl to stay within a genre — the Western — while adding Coen Brothers touches — like the frontier doctor traveling Indian territory in a bear skin or the man strangely hanged from a tree 50 feet in the air. Who hanged him land why? We are never told — a typical Coen Brothers atmospheric touch. They tried to bring their ironic touch to a conventional Western, with mixed results. The critics — who want to seem in on the “joke” — praised it anyway.

    Comment by JOSEPH Francis — January 2, 2011 @ 12:53 am

  104. “The Coen Brothers occupy a Hollywood niche that implies subversion while reinforcing conservatism.”

    http://www.counterpunch.org/sperber12312010.html

    Comment by Michael — January 2, 2011 @ 4:48 am

  105. One could say the same about much that appears in Counterpunch.

    Comment by godoggo — January 3, 2011 @ 1:04 am

  106. Sorry, that seemed clever as I was typing it.

    Comment by godoggo — January 3, 2011 @ 1:11 am

  107. I actually liked No Country for Old Men quite a bit. I thought Burn After Reading OK but was bored shitless with <A Serious Man so I’ll take your word on this one. I might even check out/re-watch your favourite Westerns as per the list above. Don’t you rate any of Leone’s work?

    Comment by Chris T — January 3, 2011 @ 1:19 am

  108. Regarding Rooster kicking the two Indian children, as someone noted above, you neglect to mention that they are tormenting a mule. In Portis’s novel, one of the boys is actually white and one is Indian, and Rooster speaks directly to them, making it clear that he’s punishing them for tormenting the animal.

    Comment by michael barrett — January 5, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

  109. We have gone over this already but let me repeat. This scene functions in order to establish Cogburn’s underlying decency, a kind of PETA activist in the 19th century. So, what does it matter if he is a killer cop (that’s what ‘true grit’ amounts to), if he loves animals?

    Comment by louisproyect — January 5, 2011 @ 5:35 pm

  110. True Grit both then and now marks a truce line between the Hollywood Left and the Hollywood Right with representives from both including it’s one time blacklisted Communist party member female screenwriter along with John Wayne allowing both sides to make more money which is the only hardship any Marxist faced due to the blacklist in contrast to the millions of people murdered by Stalin and Hitler over which of those lying megomaniac politicians was going to be worshipped as the new improved socialist Jesus. For the record more people died after America signed a peace treaty and left Pol Pot and Ho Chi Minh’s gangs free to rob and murder as many South East Asians as they pleased than everybody killed on both sides during the 12 years Americans like my cousin Al were dying defending Que Son from your Marxist apostles of peace. I spent 20 years in the Army and lived on a commune. My wife’s Korean. Try redistributing Fonda’s billions she made as a lying prostitute for Ted Turner instead of trying to redistribute my working class Texas Christian Republican money to the Swiss bank accounts of European Nazi collaborators in Sweden for a change.

    Comment by Jim in Texas — January 7, 2011 @ 8:18 pm

  111. Que Son?

    Doesn’t that mean “what are” in Spanish? Are you sure your cousin Al didn’t fight in Mexico rather than Vietnam?

    Comment by louisproyect — January 7, 2011 @ 8:45 pm

  112. Joining the debate a bit late, apologies.

    Besides the scene with the Choctaw children that Louis mentioned, in one scene early in the film a Choctaw man who is being hanged tries (in fluent English) to address the crowd before being executed.

    I don’t read anything in particular about the directors’ attitudes toward Native Americans into either of these two scenes. What is noticeable about the film however is that these are the only two appearances of Native Americans despite the fact that it takes place largely in Choctaw territory against the background of the wars that Louis talks about in his post. In this regard it reminds one of Vietnam War films like “The Deer Hunter” in which an imperialist invasion and national liberation struggle serves as only the backdrop to “deep” psychological and emotional trauma on the part of people serving in the invading army.

    I thought the film was pretty boring and had not much to set it apart from most mediocre Westerns. If the Coens’ take on the genre was “hip” in any way it was lost on me. I do think though, that any film that skates over such a brutal historical background does not deserve to be called art. Tadeusz Borowski, a survivor of Auschwitz, wrote that “There can be no beauty if it is paid for by human injustice, nor truth that passes over injustice in silence, nor moral virtue that condones it.”

    And you don’t have to be socialist so much as a human to recognize that.

    Comment by Bill — January 10, 2011 @ 11:53 am

  113. Interesting analysis of the film and interesting discussions. As a huge Coen brothers fan, I can only hope that they were making an indictment of Cogburn’s character, but I was left feeling very uncomfortable at the treatment of the First Nations children. Perhaps that was the point?

    It is worth checking out the award-winning documentary “Reel Injun,” about the portrayal of Native Americans in cinema. It sheds light on “True Grit” and made me ask a lot of questions.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts here: http://www.firstweekendclub.ca/blog/reel-injun-sheds-light-on-true-grit-.html

    Comment by Anna — January 10, 2011 @ 6:13 pm

  114. He knocks the injun turds off the porch BECAUSE THEY ARE TORTURNING THE HORSE!

    Comment by annk — January 10, 2011 @ 8:26 pm

  115. Whatever you do, don’t torment a poor ol’ shoot em’ up, pardner.

    Comment by wayne — January 13, 2011 @ 6:11 pm

  116. Easy, Louis, you’re reading WAY too much into a movie. You sshould have read the book first. It’s short enough that I read it on a Saturday. The Indian kids are torturing the horse. He didn’t shoot them in the back, he pushed them into the mud. In the book, it’s more clear that the horse is strangling as it struggles against it’s rope. NOT A BRIDLE, BUT A ROPE! Bad kids get punished. That’s not mistreatment of indians, You’re statement of indian treatment of horses in general is if not a lie, at least a misdirection. It wasn’t uncommon for indians to ride a horse into the ground, make a meal of him, and go steal another from wherever they could. That’s how their culture worked. Raiding and stealing your enemy’s horses was a sign of strength.
    Many in that time were alternately criminal and lawman. Survival in the wilds of the frontier did not always allow for the kind of moral certitude you seem to require from these characters. While McNulty didn’t say it for fear of being banned from your little kingdom (serfdom?) what I suspect he wanted to say was – Get over yourself, you whinny little bitch! Your grandma has the right to hold a grudge. You don’t.

    Comment by dave — January 14, 2011 @ 5:03 pm

  117. ANNK, You don’t get it! The mule is an imperialist functionary, and the injun kids are delivering blows for liberation until they’re cruelly kicked off the porch (a metaphor for the world political stage).

    What a surprise to learn that Louis’s favorite “cowboy movie,” McCabe & Mrs. Miller, is an anti-Western! Actually I like it too but I’m working on a remake with a sunnier outcome: Constance discovers Das Kapital and find it within her to cast aside her opium pipe; the hired guns join McCabe and vanquish the true enemy, the iron-heeled lumber company Bosses. Some 70s ambiguity survives, though, as the Keith Carradine and Shelly Duvall characters enroll in the University of British Columbia and embark on an unfinishable thesis, The Future of Prostitution in A Workers’ Paradise. Gender-based philosophical disagreements ensue, and real happiness may be a tragic millimeter beyond their grasp…

    Comment by Tony Kenosha — January 20, 2011 @ 12:14 am

  118. Tony, have you ever heard of the term overwriting? I suppose not…

    Comment by louisproyect — January 20, 2011 @ 2:45 am

  119. Mon diue! That’s the ***best retort*** you can summon up?

    Comment by Tony Kenosha — January 20, 2011 @ 8:15 pm

  120. Yes, I said “mon diue,” and meant it sincerely. But let’s add the proper “mon dieu” too.

    Comment by Tony Kenosha — January 20, 2011 @ 8:18 pm

  121. There’s a piece on the film by Frank Rich in this Sunday’s New York Times that truly smacks of yet another foolish self-serving liberal paean to the film disguised as nuanced cultural discourse. Oftentimes the bourgeoisie can indeed be very discreet… and surreal.

    Comment by Frank — January 23, 2011 @ 11:50 pm

  122. Great essay. Not exactly a review, but puts the spotlight on the fact that the movie itself is a cryptopolitical statement and therefore it is fitting that the directors be called out on their political statement, and on the political context of both the earlier and this film. I have not seen the first True Grit film, so cannot compare the two. I find the current film vastly overrated. I agree with reviewers who, dealing only with the internal film values of the movie, spotlight its deflation when the putative villain appears on the scene. For starters, for the first time, Mattie appears stupid. Second, the predictability! As soon as she set out with that bucket I said to my companion, “Now she is going to see something.” Yep. Second, the movie hints at this point that it will decide which genre ir really belongs to (Masterpiece Theatre re-creation or John Ford Western) and become some kind of comedy. But the only comedy to be had is in he sudden elimination by violent means of a few people. The villain’s reactions have no internal consistency but serve only to advance the plot in a most heavy-handed fashion. And the dialogue, though clever is spots, in its archness became utterly tedious. Part of the problem is that virtually all the characters spoke in exactly the same affected, Dickensian style. It works OK for Mattie but could have been used to better effect to set her apart from the other characters. Of course there was also the problem that a lot of Jeff Bridges’s dialogue got tangled in his beard and never reached my ears. Back to the issue of politics: Read Frank Rich’s essay to see the extent to which the lionizing of this mediocre film is itself a political event. When it was nominated for an Oscar I went to see it, thinking it must be a must-see. Now I think I know why it got the Oscar nod, and it has little to do with film values.

    Comment by Litchfield — January 30, 2011 @ 3:02 pm

  123. PS
    The way the phrase “true grit” was incorporated into Mattie’s dialogue was quite artificial. Is that there in the book? Now that one commenter has noted that the odd, stilted dialogue was delivered in a more “natural” fashion in the original, I am curious to see that film and see how it was done. Wayne definitely had on-screen charisma and grace, a point discussed apolitically from a purely film point of view in, I believe, The Nation or another left-wing publication, possibly ca. 10 years ago. The writer talked at length about Wayne’s development of the hip-rolling “Western walk,” and why he did it better than anyone else.

    Comment by Litchfield — January 30, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

  124. Yep, if I was Jesse James, I know the day they came and attacked my family and repeatedly tortured my stepfather by hanging him in the front yard and then letting him fall, an injury he never recovered from and after whipping me and chasing me off into the cornfield and then taking my stepfather away telling him that they were going to feed him to the hogs and then returning to take ny mother and sister to prison, I am sure, even at fourteen, I would have fallen down on my knees and said “Thank you God for sending in the Good Guys.” And I am sure I would have went and joined up with the Union Cause–Not! You talk a lot about what you know little about! And don’t forget who crossed the border first and attacked the Missourians. It was a matter of survival! While the Unions forces were fighting over pork and contracts to clothe and arm the troops and stealing Missouri property, the Confederates were hunkering in and ready to die for what was theirs. A baby was one of the ones killed when Union troops took the camp at St. Louis and other folks, but you never hear anything about that, because it was done by the Union and that day in history prompted Gen. Price into action and the battle to begin in Missouri. A Missourian not for slavery, but who understands that robbing folks is done in different ways!

    Comment by wayfinder Workaholic — February 25, 2011 @ 4:37 am


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