I enjoyed True Grit as a book and I loved the 2010 adaptation. The ‘teens were a golden time for the western film and so I decided to work with the year 1917 in mind.
For Rooster, there was really no question as to who should play him. William S. Hart could play gruff-with-a-heart-of-gold in his sleep and he wasn’t afraid to play unsavory characters. As a bonus, he also serves as the director.
Mattie was a little harder to cast but I settled on Bessie Love. A charming actress, her career never really caught fire the way it should have. If only she really had been in True Grit. Buck Jones is just right as the mouthy LaBoeuf. At this point in his career, he would likely have been billed as Buck Gebhart (his real surname) but I hope you will forgive my use of his more famous moniker. Finally, Walter Long would be a brutish Chaney.
A quick tangent: True Grit was an artistic and box office success when it was released three years ago but it proved to be the exception rather than the rule for a western film. The question of whether or not the western is dead has been bandied around for the last few decades. Here’s my take:
Just make a western. Not a sci-fi western. Not a blow-em-up action western. Just a western. As in people in the west. Doing western things. No giant mechanical spiders. No aliens. And please, try for less than two hours of running time. If you manage that, I will buy a ticket to your western. If not, I will stick with Mr. Hart and Mr. Jones, thank you very much.
Sorry for the rant. It’s been rattling around the old bean for a while now and it was time to let it out.