By rough reckoning, four kinds of folks will see True Grit, a perfectly handsome if stubbornly detached new Western from Joel and Ethan Coen. First, there are those who have read the rollicking 1968 novel by Charles Portis, a beaut narrated in the unforgettable voice of Mattie Ross. Mattie tells the story of how, as a 14-year-old girl on the 19th-century frontier, she set out to avenge her daddy's death at the hands of the coward and drifter Tom Chaney. She has considerable help from an outsize U.S. Marshal named Reuben J. ''Rooster'' Cogburn and Rooster's would-be competitor, a Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf.
Second, there are those who are nostalgically fond of the defanged and more Cogburn-centric 1969 movie version, for which a hammy post-cancer John Wayne won his only Oscar as the fat, one-eyed, drunken Rooster. Third, there are those who have read the book and seen the 1969 movie and despaired at how the latter gummed up the startling and often funny tone of the former, with a sweetened ending that was great for Wayne but hell for Portis.
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