Wicked Wednesday: True Grit

One more July Wicked Wednesday on grit. Today let’s discuss the novel and the movie (both versions), True Grit. The story is about loyalty, even if reluctant.

The novel, by Charles Portis (1968), portrays fourteen year-old Mattie Ross (no relation to Barb, that we know of), whose father was murdered, and bounty hunter Rooster Cogburn. The 1969 movie featured Kim Darby as Mattie and John Wayne as Cogburn. The Coen brothers’ 2010 remake gave us Hailee Steinfeld and Jeff Bridges, with Josh Brolin as the father’s killer. Talk about some star power.

From the New York Review of Books, I gleaned this: “So what do we learn about loyalty in True Grit? That it doesn’t prevent disagreement, or out-and-out fights, but it is often the coat love wears—a tattered and ragged coat, as in this fine movie—but maybe, just maybe, the best thing we have.”

Wickeds, let’s dish on the grit involved in loyalty. How do your characters show it, and what kind of grit does it take? When are they reluctantly loyal? Do your protagonists’ supporters consider them loyal? Have you watched either True Grit movie, and what did you think? Go!

Sherry: I haven’t ever read the novel or seen the movie. Loyalty drives Chloe Jackson to go to Florida to help her friend Boone’s grandmother, Vivi, run her bar. Even when Chloe realizes Vivi doesn’t want her there, Chloe stays because of a promise she made.

Liz: Sherry, I’m glad I’m not the only one because I haven’t either! Violet Mooney is extremely loyal to her family – some say too loyal. It’s this loyalty that drives her to give her long-lost mother a chance when she shows up out of the blue and drops a giant bombshell on her.

Jessie: I don’t think I’ve seen either movie either and I know I haven’t read the novel. I have read the non-fiction book Grit by Angela Duckworthy and found it a fascinating read! My characters tend to be loyal in the ways that make sense to them. In my Beryl and Edwina mysteries, Edwina displays a strong sense of loyalty to her community and also to the traditions she holds dear. Beryl is loyal to the true north that is her authentic self; she never betrays herself by contorting into a people pleaser to fit in or to win approval. Both of them are fiercely loyal to each other.

Barb: I saw the John Wayne movie but decades ago. I haven’t seen the remake, but I should. I like the Coen Brothers, the cast and westerns. I think of loyalty as being a defining trait of both of my sleuths. Julia Snowden in the Maine Clambake Mysteries is loyal to her family, the family business, the town of Busman’s Harbor and the island where they hold their clambakes. Jane Darrowfield is loyal to her great and good friends who have seen her through the ups and downs of thirty years.

Edith/Maddie: Like my blog sisters, loyalty also defines my protagonists (and I will watch anything the Coen Brothers make!). It takes grit to stay loyal when your aunt, brother, or fellow-churchgoer is suspected of murder – but the loyalty is well worth the price.

Readers: Any “True Grit” fans? Who is your exemplar of loyalty in books or films? Or who has negated the idea?

17 Thoughts

  1. Good morning ladies!
    I’ve seen True Grit several times. Love it! I loved Mattie Ross’s character.
    She was stubborn, strong, and fun to see what she would do next.
    Have great day!!!

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  2. I’ve read the book and seen both movies, but it’s been a while. I’ve even based one of my very secondary characters after Jeff Bridges’ version of Rooster.

    I’ve often said that Zoe is loyal to a fault. She has often stood by her friends when they maybe didn’t deserve it.

    I do love characters who are loyal. I think I can excuse a lot of flaws in a protagonist if they’re loyal at heart.

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  3. Wow! Coincidentally, I just finished reading True Grit a couple days ago and am meeting today with a friend who also just read it to discuss. I loved this book. While I enjoyed both of the film versions and thought both actresses who played Mattie did a good job, having the tale told from her perspective really grabbed me. What a precocious, peculiar lass! An American original.

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  4. I saw the original when the earth was cooling and thought the characterizations were wonderful.

    Like others, loyalty is a characteristic of my three protagonists. When you write amateur sleuth novels, loyalty almost has to be a driving force since so often the protagonist is defending others s/he believes in from criminal accusations that would be easier to accept.

    The exemplars of loyalty that come to mind first are from movies featuring WWII – Gregory Peck in High Noon is loyal to his General even when it means going against one of his best friends. The friend is loyal to Gregory Peck even when it would be easier to dislike him for usurping his command. In Midway Charleton Heston displays loyalty to his son when Charleton Heston goes to bat for his son’s fiancee who has been confined in an internment camp with her parents for the “crime” of being Japanese. It’s clear that Charleton and the Edward Albert character are at odds, but love triumphs.

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    1. Hi Kait, I’m a huge old movie buff, so if I might be so bold as to say, I think you’re thinking of Twelve O’Clock High with Gregory Peck & the hard-as-nails general. High Noon is the classic Western with Gary Cooper as the on-his-own sheriff, a young Grace Kelly as his new bride, and Lloyd Bridges as his cowardly deputy. Gary Cooper stands alone against a murderous gang of outlaws, while everyone in his town turns their back on him 🙂

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  5. The John Wayne version of True Grit is my favorite, although the remake is also good. The first character that came to mind as an example of loyalty is Armand Gamache’s wife, Reine Marie, in Louise Penny’s Three Pines series ~

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  6. You can add me to the list of people who haven’t seen either movie version or read the book. Heck, I didn’t know there was a book or an earlier version.

    I love loyal characters. That’s one thing that draws me to cozies, I think, is how loyal the core cast is to each other. After all, it takes loyalty to someone to put yourself in danger to help them.

    I like to think I’m a loyal person. Hopefully, my friends would agree.

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  7. Although I haven’t read the book yet, I saw both movies and loved them. The original with John Wayne is a classic, although Glen Campbell was not very good as Rooster’s sidekick. I also far prefer Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie to Kim Darby’s version. Hailee was incredible alongside Jeff Bridges. Even though I haven’t watched the John Wayne version in years, the scene of him going full tilt after the bad guys with the horse reins in his teeth and shotguns in both hands as he blasts them to kingdom come is indelibly imprinted on my memory. I think most cozy characters are loyal to their friends and loved ones–I agree with Mark; that’s part of their appeal. That’s certainly the case of Teddie St. John and her Three Musketeers pals and best friends in my first cozy, Murder Most Sweet. (And of Pastor Hope Taylor and her friends in Hope, Faith & a Corpse.) Thanks for this thread. I’m such an old movie buff, I always love discussing them!

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  8. True Grit as a book is a slender gem of prose, and a must-read. Mattie Ross is unforgettable in the book, and having seen both movies, I agree with laurajensenwalker that Hailee Seinfeld best portrays her, with the no-nonsense, determined, almost-but-not-quite flat affect of someone who has seen it all and who is not going to take no for an answer. She has a mission, and by golly, she is going to will that mission done, and done properly. Both Roosters are good, but I prefer Jeff Bridges, who is not as stunt-y or movie star heroic as John Wayne in the original. They both chew up up a lot of scenery, though.

    My favorite aspect of True Grit, apart from loyalty, is the female perspective. Very unusual for that time period.

    Rose Carroll’s sister is loyal to her, and I love that dynamic in your Quaker Midwife books, Edith. It’s a precious relationship that helps center Rose, I think.

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  9. I saw the film True Grit years ago and actually enjoyed it. It was a really well written script and believable characters. I have not read the book. I also use to watch Bones with Temperance Breannan which was based out of the books that Kathy Reichs wrote and I have all of those books. You can only bring so much into a script from a book. As long as you have the plot, the high points and what it should portray that is what counts in a film and also it helps that you want to read the book which will be more indepth.

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