Join us Saturday for our Live Tweet of the 1975 sequel to “True Grit.”
We’ll be hitting the trail with Turner Classic Movies again this Saturday as we offer Live Tweet commentary for Rooster Cogburn, the 1975 True Grit sequel in which John Wayne once again dons the trademark eyepatch to play the role that helped him win his first and only Academy Award as Best Actor.
Directed by Stuart Millar (When the Legends Die), this follow-up film boasts another kind of distinction: It’s the first and only movie ever to showcase Wayne and Katharine Hepburn as co-stars. Did the two Hollywood legends (who were the same age, 67, when filming began on location in Oregon) enjoy their time with each other? Well, consider what Hepburn wrote about The Duke in a magazine piece quoted by Scott Eyman in the biography John Wayne: The Life and Legend.
“From head to toe he is all of a piece,” Hepburn gushed. “Big head. Wide blue eyes. Sandy hair. Rugged skin — lined by living and fun and character. Not by just rotting away. A nose not too big, not too small. Good teeth. A face alive with humor, I should say, and a sharp wit. Dangerous when roused. His shoulders are broad — very. His chest massive — very. When I leaned against him (which I did as often as possible, I must confess — I am reduced to such innocent pleasures) thrilling. It was like leaning against a great tree.”
Reviews were largely mixed for Rooster Cogburn when it hit theaters six years after the release of True Grit. But Vincent Canby of The New York Times praised the sequel as “a cheerful, throwaway western, featuring two stars of the grand tradition who respond to each other with verve that makes the years disappear.” The plot — which, Canby conceded, owes more than a little to The African Queen — pairs Wayne’s cantankerous lawman with Hepburn’s Eula Goodnight, an elderly minister’s spinster daughter who relies on Cogburn’s help after outlaws kill her father. Veteran character actor Anthony Zerbe (Will Penny, TV’s The Young Riders) also figures into the mix as Breed, Cogburn’s former scout, who’s now aligned with the bad guys.
“My most vivid memory of John Wayne,” Zerbe told Cowboys & Indians during an interview at the 2012 Nashville Film Festival, “involves Roscoe Lee Brown, my dear late friend. Roscoe had done The Cowboys with Wayne – which I thought was a wonderful movie – and when I got on Rooster Cogburn, I found Roscoe had apparently talked to Wayne about me. So when I met him for the first time – I didn’t know him well enough then to call him Duke, so I didn’t. But he came over to shake my hand. And I’d grown up watching this guy – he was probably in the first movie I ever saw.
“But I guess Roscoe had told him that I was an experienced stage actor, because he started doing this speech. Not like he was talking to me, but giving this speech. And then when he finished, he looked at me, and said, ‘Well?’ And I just looked back at him, and put my hands up on his shoulders, and said, ‘You’re John Wayne, man. What do you mean, “Well?”’ Because, really, what else could I say? ‘You need a little work on that?’”
Look for the hashtag #ciTCMWesterns when we Live Tweet Rooster Cogburn during its 6 pm ET Sept. 7 presentation on TCM.