"I aim to kill you in a minute, Ned, or see you hang in Fort Smith at Judge Parker’s convenience. Which will it be?"
Description: John Wayne as Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn to outlaw "Lucky" Ned Pepper (Robert Duvall) in the classic western True Grit (1969).
"I won't rest until Tom Chaney's barking in hell." - Mattie Ross
Rooster J. Cogburn is tough, one-eyed a US Marshall. He is hired by a teenage tomboy named Mattie Ross (Kim Darby) when her father is killed by a Tom Chaney who worked on there homestead as a cowhand. Chaney has since left the jurisdiction of the town sheriff and so Mattie chose Cogburn because she heard he had "grit" and the determination to bring outlaws to justice. She offered to pay $50.00 in gold for his services. In reference to the marshal a local named Col. G. Stonehill (Strother Martin) told Mattie, "Most people around here have heard of Rooster Cogburn and some people live to regret it."
|Cogburn:||Why, by God, girl, that's a Colt's Dragoon! You're no bigger than a corn nubbin, what're you doing with all this pistol?|
|Mattie:||It belonged to my father, he carried it bravely in the war, and I intend to kill Tom Chaney with it if the law fails to do so.|
|Cogburn:||Well, this'll sure get the job done if you can find a fence post to rest it on while you take aim.|
As Cogburn prepares to search for Chaney, LaBeouf (Glen Campbell), a Texas Ranger, who sought Tom Chaney for the murder of a senator, joins the posse.
"If I smelled as bad as you, I wouldn’t live near people". - Mattie Ross
Their journey will take them from Fort Smith, Arkansas into Oklahoma Indian Territory. Cogburn tries to leave Mattie behind, but the feisty girl hopped onto her horse, Little Blackie and raced after the marshall to make sure her investment was secure.
|Mattie:||This man (La Beouf) wants to take Chaney back to Texas. That's not what I want.|
|Cogburn:||He wants him caught and punished - so do you.|
|Mattie:||I want Tom Chaney to hang for killing my father. It's little to me how many dogs and senators he killed in Texas.|
|Cogburn:||You can tell him to his face, you can spit in his eye, you can make him eat sand out of the road, you can shoot him in the foot and I'll hold him for you - but first we gotta catch him.|
Eventurally, Cogburn and company learn that Chaney has taken up with "Lucky" Ned Pepper (Robert Duvall), a gang leader whom Rooster once shot in a gunfight. As Tom Chaney holds Mattie hostage on a ridge, Cogburn faces off with Ned and his gang.
"I aim to kill you in a minute, Ned, or see you hang in Fort Smith at Judge Parker’s convenience. Which will it be?" cries Cogburn across a meadow. Ned answers, “That’s bold talk for a one-eyed fat man. Rooster responds, “Fill your hands, you son of a bitch!” and charges the outlaws with rifle and hand gun blazing.
As they charge toward each other, Cogburn kills three of the gang but only wounds Ned Kelly who tries to kill Cogburn who is now pinned under horse when it took a spill.
From a distant outcropping of rocks, La Beouf fires his rifle and hits Ned Kelly before he can kill Cogburn. Mattie holds Chaney at bay with her father's gun, fires and wounds him. The force of the gunshot knocks here down into a pit. Cogburn arrives and kills Chaney whose body falls into the pit, as well. Cogburn climbs down in the pit, shoots the snake that bit Mattie. La Beouf, who had been hit in the head with a rock by Chaney revives, drops a rope into the pit to Cogburn. La Beouf dies from his injury as Cogburn carries Mattie to safety where she can receive medical attention for her rattlesnake bite.
A few weeks later, Rooster visits Mattie who promises to save a burial plot in the family cemetery for him and then gives Cogburn her father's pistol as a keepsake. Then she tells him, "You are too old and fat to be jumping horses," to which Rooster Cogburn says, “Well, come see a fat old man sometime!” as he jumps his horse over a fence and gallops away.
Note: In the 2010 remake of the film Mattie Ross, now 40-years-old, recalls her adventures with Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and Texas Ranger La Beouf (Matt Damon) as they pursued her father's killer when she was a teenager.
"The wicked flee when none pursueth. Proverbs 28:1" - Title Card
"People do not give it credence that a young girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father's blood. But it did happen. I was just 14 years of age when a coward by the name of Tom Chaney shot my father down and robbed him of his life and his horse and two California gold pieces that he carried in his trouser band. Chaney was a hired man and Papa had taken him up to Fort Smith to help lead back a string of Mustang ponies he'd bought. In town, Chaney had fallen to drink and cards and lost all his money. He got it into his head he was being cheated and went back to the boarding house for his Henry rifle. When Papa tried to intervene, Chaney shot him. Chaney fled. He could have walked his horse, for not a soul in that city could be bothered to give chase. No doubt Chaney fancied himself scot-free. But he was wrong. You must pay for everything in this world, one way and another. There is nothing free, except the grace of God." [First lines of Mattie Ross at 40 years of age]
"The meanest is Rooster Cogburn. He is a pitiless man, double tough and fear don't enter into his thinking. He loves to pull a cork." - Town Sheriff
"Pencil-necked son of a bitch!" [to a defense attorney] - Rooster Cogburn
"You give out very little sugar with your pronouncements. While I sat there watching you I gave some thought to stealing a kiss, though you are very young and sick and unattractive to boot, but now I have a mind to give you five or six good licks with my belt." - La Boeuf [to Mattie]
"You are just trying to make your work sound harder than it is. Here is the money. Now, I aim to get Tom Chaney and if you are not game I will find somebody who is game. All I have heard out of you so far is talk. I know you can drink whiskey and snore and spit and wallow in filth and bemoan your station. The rest has been braggadocio. They told me you had grit and that is why I came to you. I am not paying for talk. I can get all the talk I need and more at the Monarch Boarding House." - Mattie [to Cogburn]
"You can spit on him (Cheney), make him eat sand out of the road. I'll hold him down. Well, if you want I will flay the flesh off the soles of his feet, find you an Indian pepper you can rub into the wound. Isn't that a hundred dollars' value?" - Cogburn [to Mattie]
"I'm a foolish old man whose been drawn into a wild goose chase by a harpie in trousers and a nincompoop." - a drunken Cogburn [to Mattie and La Beouf]
"Who worked you over with the ugly stick?" - Emmett Quincy [to Mattie]
After Mattie first wounds then later kills Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), who had taken up with Ned Pepper and his gang, she falls into a pit and is bitten by a rattlesnake. Marshal Cogburn carries her to a doctor, but she loses her arm to amputation. Before she wakes from the ordeal, Cogburn departs.
Years later, Mattie learns that Cogburn was traveling with The Wild West Show, "getting older and fatter," and so Mattie decided to visit him when his show came to Memphis so they could swap stories with an old trail mate. But when Mattie arrives at the show, she learns that Cogburn died three days earlier. His body had been buried in a Confederate cemetery. Mattie arranges to have the body taken to her home.
"I had the body removed to our plot and I have visited it over the years. No doubt people talk about that. They say, 'Well, she hardly knew the man. Isn't she a cranky old maid?' It is true, I have not married. I never had time to fool with it. I heard nothing more of the Texas officer La Boeuf. If he is yet alive, I would be pleased to hear from him. I judge he would be in his 70s now, and nearer 80 than 70. I expect some of the starch has gone out of that cowlick. Time just gets away from us." [Last lines of Mattie Ross]