Coen Bros

True Grit a 'Charming' Comedy

Why did Joel and Ethan Coen decide to adapt Charles Portis’ novel True Grit 40 years after none other than John Wayne had laid claim to the one-eyed Marshall “Rooster” Cogburn? Because, writes David Edelstein, the original played it too straight and missed the morbid humor Portis mixed in with his quasi-biblical diction. “The novel is structured like an old-fashioned revenge saga, except the villain is a hapless cretin and the hero a mean drunk who rode with the Confederate Captain Quantrill during the infamous Lawrence, Kansas, massacre of 1863.” Though the Coens’ version “isn’t as momentous an event as you might hope,” writes Edelstein, “it’s a charming, deadpan Western comedy.”