‘True Grit’ Fans Debate the Definitive Rooster Cogburn Performance: Jeff Bridges or John Wayne?

by John Jamison
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Two movies made 50 years apart, both based on a novel by the same name. Two different iconic actors took turns playing the rough-and-tumble marshal Rooster Cogburn in their respective versions of “True Grit.” John Wayne played him in the 1969 version, Jeff Bridges in 2010. Both were celebrated critically. Now, Duke’s official Instagram account is comparing the performances to see which one did it better.

Of course, the question was posed by the John Wayne account. So it’s safe to say the people who responded in the comments were at least slightly biased toward the 1969 version.

Then again, both Rooster Cogburn actors were nominated for Academy Awards for their performances. So it’s really anybody’s game.

“John Wayne & Jeff Bridges were both nominated for Oscars for their performance as Rooster Cogburn. Which version of the movie is your favorite, 1969 or 2010?” the Instagram caption read.

In the world of remakes, few movies do as much justice to their original counterparts as the 2010 version of “True Grit” from the Coen Brothers. There was no consensus among fans whatsoever. But some of the most popular sentiments seemed to be that the 1969 “True Grit” with John Wayne as Cogburn featured the more iconic performance. Though, many fans thought the 2010 movie was closer to the source text than the original.

“I have to fall on the side of the Duke. BUT, that’s the BEST remake of a film, I’ve ever seen! Loved them both,” a fan replied to the Instagram post.

“2010 Much richer film and truer to the book’s feel. Wayne was robbed of an Oscar for the Searchers and this was a lifetime achievement award,” another added.

Two Versions of ‘True Grit,’ Two Very Different Approaches to Character

One of the biggest complaints John Wayne fans had of Jeff Bridges’ approach to Rooster Cogburn was how disheveled he appeared.

“Jeff Bridges was horrible had marbles in house mouth and portrait Roster as a slob,” another fan replied to the post from John Wayne’s estate.

But a different fan pointed out that, indeed, the portrayal of Rooster Cogburn in the novel by Charles Portis was one of a slobbish man.

This isn’t to say that the Bridges performance is better for accuracy. It’s just that Henry Hathaway, the director of the 1969 “True Grit,” and the Coen brothers took different approaches to their movies. As a result, the actors contrasted greatly in their portrayals of Rooster Cogburn.

At the end of the day, however, the win may have to go to John Wayne on this one. After all, we’re still waiting on Jeff Bridges to reprise the role in a sequel. Duke did it in the 1975 film “Rooster Cogburn.”

Outsider.com