True Grit

Every film geek got excited with the recent announcement that Jeff Bridges will star in the Coen brothers’ remake of True Grit. That 1969 Western earned John Wayne an Oscar for playing the gruff, fat, one-eyed lawman Rooster Cogburn (Bridges’ role in the remake, which films next spring and is set for 2011 release). Paired with Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America, True Grit concludes NWFF’s “69” film series, and the picture is an artifact of the era. Wayne is a violent reactionary who rails against defense attorneys and tends to shoot fugitives before claiming the bounty. But he’s also a comic reactionary, something like Falstaff, a lonely old drunk with a criminal past. He and Glen Campbell’s upright, immaculately coiffed Texas Ranger pursue the man who killed the father of stubborn teen heroine Kim Darby. She pays for Wayne’s drinks, and he pretends he’s not taking orders. She bosses him around, and he feigns anger. But they both know he’s glad for the company. (“She reminds me of me,” he says.) It’s one of the loosest, most enjoyable performances in Wayne’s long career, like The Searchers played for laughs. The all-star villains include Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, and Strother Martin. (PG) BRIAN MILLER

Sat., Dec. 12, 6 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 13, 6 p.m., 2009

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