Hundred Dollars for a Sheriff/True Grit: comparison of films from 1969 and 2011

Hundred Dollars for a Sheriff/True Grit: comparison of films from 1969 and 2011

The original version with John Wayne will return this evening on Arte.

Brothers Coen did not stop repeating, when promoting True Gritthat they were inspired by the novel by Charles Portis, and not by the first adaptation, A hundred dollars for a sheriffreleased in 1969, and produced by Henry Hathaway. If you like the western from the Fargo duo, don’t miss the opportunity to compare it to the original, offered at 8:55 p.m. on Channel 7, and already visible for free on Arte.TV.

During the Paris press conference organized in 2011, Joel Coen admitted that he didn’t really like the original western: “I haven’t seen the original since it came out in 1969, that’s the truth. I don’t remember being particularly impressed by the film, and besides, I don’t have one great memory.”

A little later, the director explained that he was even shocked by the actress who played the main character in Hathaway’s film: “It was supposed to be about a teenager while the actress was clearly in her twenties (…). Frankly, we didn’t want to compare our film with the original. What really interests us is the novel” .

And it’s true: the film is a dark phantasmagoria, a child’s journey through hostile lands, an initiatory journey more than a B series (as the original was). From the opening scene which takes us into a dark world to the rescue sequence which oscillates between dream and reality, True Grit is, as is often the case with the Coens, a strong, intense work that flirts with the marvelous. BUT, because there is a but…

Coen Brothers’ True Grit Is Better Than Its Model (Review)

Watching this video which compares some key scenes from the two films, the similarities are uncanny. Same dialogues (we can put it down to fidelity to the novel), similar gestures… This is especially obvious during the first scene, between Marshall Reester Cogburn and young Mattie Ross, who wants to hire him so that he murders his father’s murderer. And in the shootout scene.

So what ? Could the Coens have been more inspired by the original film than they let on? Would they have seen Hathaway’s film again, certainly weaker, but eminently likeable? Apart from the anecdote, this montage will also allow us to focus on the interpretation of John Waynefor which he received an Oscar, and that of Jeff Bridges. Although they play the same character, their acting is extremely different.

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