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  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
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  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
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Rooster Cogburn

Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 103 mins . PG . PAL


Iíve never seen True Grit, the film from which Rooster Cogburn is sequelised. It seems to stand alone though, and isnít entirely necessary (obviously) to have seen the first one as they donít intersect but for characters.

Rooster Cogburn is a hard-arsed Marshall. However, the years have taken their toll and after an arrest leads to a bloody gunfight in which four baddies are killed, Rooster is stripped of his badge and retires to seemingly drink himself to death. Hawk (Richard Jordan), a real mean dude reminiscent of Buford ĎMad Dogí Tannen from Back to the Future 3, has stolen a wagon-load of nitro-glycerin with the intent of blowing up a bank and stealing whatever a bank holds.

"Now Iíll get you a fair trial and a good hanging..."

Rooster is soon begged to chase him down and, fully re-instated, sets about doing what he does best. Along the pursuit, he crosses paths with a remote village that has been ravaged by Hawkís band, and hooks up with two survivors; a Native American boy and the fire and brimstone daughter of a preacher (Katharine Hepburn).

The animosity between Wayne and Hepburn throughout fuels the laughs here, though most of their banter is so horribly politically incorrect as to be embarrassing. I understand that thereís naturally been a lot of it deliberate to the storyline, and it was more commonplace when this film was made, but I couldnít help but feel some of it was entirely needless. Lines like...

íThis is a manís work, and hard!í
ĎIf they ever give Ďem the vote... God help us!í
ĎYouíre figuring to take the bottle outta my hand and put a cake of soap in it!í

...all contribute in their own ways and while that cake of soap one is funny, the others are just a little wincifying. (Thereís even a subtle one from Hepburn when she says to Wayne, ĎItís not the size that matters...í).

Oh well. For fans of Wayneís work (or even Hepburnís, I suppose) thereís plenty here to keep you amused and while the film is fun in its own way, the days of animosity and sexism between cowboy marshalls and preacherís daughters are far behind us. Thereís also a heaping helping of racism aimed at both the Chinese and Native American contingents that isnít funny in the least, although Iím sure it was at some point in history. Thankfully, that day, too, is getting further and further behind us.


Massive in its widescreen ratio of 2.35:1 with enhancement, the film looks pretty spectacular here. Plenty of sweeping desert and forest vistas with distant tall mountains pointing at the sky look sensational, although the whole film is marred by frequent aliasing. Tin roofs are a nightmare, although fallen trees and hat brims are less destructive. There are occasional artefacts throughout, although nothing major in the least, in fact, itís a pretty clean print overall.

Colours and such all look fine with the aliasing being the only real irritant.


Dolby Digital stereo is the usual fare for a film of this age, although some are stripped back and granted a 5.1 surround job, but thatís not the case here. Stereo is more than adequate though, giving fine depth to the sparring between our two major stars. Laurence Rosenthalís score is the usual upbeat western flavour, dipping into deep pianos when the baddie is featured. It suits the picture just fine and does its job well to contribute to the mood.

Sound effects here have both feet in the stock sound effects trough with more static gunfire and horses clopping and kerplosions than you could ever need. Oh well.


A dinged-up and artefacty trailer is all the bemused viewer has here to whet their whistle. Itís 2.35:1, but devoid of enhancement.


Hepburn and Wayne are great together and thereís a certain quality the two have in their frequent rumbles together. While I got a couple of laughs (that cake of soap line is pretty funny) overall the film is a little sluggish and missing a complex plot. I know itís a western and all, but a little more than a seek and destroy with possible romance might have been nice. Oh well.

Fans of the first film in the two-film series will either like it or hate it, because I have no idea how good the first one was or how true to character Wayne remains. Those who have seen the first probably already know more than I do anyway and so will make their own judgements.

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      And I quote...
    "Wayne and Hepburn spout outdated political incorrectness at every opportunity here..."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Teac DVD-990
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Subwoofer:
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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