Tags: Hollywood | john wayne | role | rooster cogburn | iconic

John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn: 10 Quotes About Iconic Role

By    |   Tuesday, 17 Mar 2015 12:27 PM

John Wayne was Rooster Cogburn in the 1969 Western “True Grit.” But by that time, the characteristically good-looking actor had added age and weight, and, for his Rooster role, an eye patch. He won his first acting Oscar for the part anyway.

Here are some reasons why.

1.
In his 1969 review of “True Grit,” Roger Ebert gave the film four stars and said, “Wayne, in fact, towers over this special movie. He is not playing the same Western role he always plays. Instead, he can play Rooster because of all the Western roles he has played. He brings an ease and authority to the character. He never reaches. He never falters. It's all there, a quiet confidence that grows out of 40 years of acting. God loves the old pros.”

2. That same year, New York Times movie critic Vincent Canby wrote, “John Wayne is its star, a man who has been in movies for almost 40 years and who has the best role of his career as the old, fat, one-eyed marshal.”

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3. Wayne “gives one of his greatest larger-than-life performances as Rooster Cogburn, the size of which, if attempted by another actor, would seem cartoonish,” said Brian Eggert, Deep Focus Review.

4. “In Charles Portis' 1968 Wild West novel, Rooster Cogburn is a one-eyed, overweight lawman who ain't takin' any guff. In the 1969 film, he's John Wayne. Always more of an icon than an actor, Wayne uses his drawl and his swagger to make Rooster a classic movie cowboy. When we meet him, he's hauling bad guys to jail, and in the last scene, he jumps his horse over a fence and rides into the sunset. He might be an ornery old cuss, but in Wayne's hands, Rooster Cogburn is an American hero.” Mark Blankenship, "Today."

5. “If you love movie-star acting, however, do yourself a favor: Get a hold of the original ‘True Grit’ and watch it,” said Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly. “Because what you’ll see is that John Wayne’s performance is a marvel. He makes Rooster Cogburn a cantankerous old cuss, a kind of cowpoke precursor to Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry — the kind of law enforcer who never met a bad guy he didn’t like to shoot.”

6. In 2010, New York Times critic Michael Cieply said, “Inevitably, however, a craggy, overweight Wayne subsumed the original ‘True Grit.’ He wore an eye patch and played the role with a bluster that a letter-writer to The New York Times, an Essex County College professor named G. Howard Poteet, likened to Wallace Beery’s performance as Long John Silver in ‘Treasure Island.’ If Beery hit the top, Wayne went over it.”

7. Rooster was “sure as hell my first decent role in twenty years,” Wayne himself said. “And my first chance to play a character role instead of John Wayne.” This was noted in AMC's "Story Notes" for “True Grit.”

8. According to The Guardian, "I didn't want to impersonate John Wayne: I didn't think about him and his interpretation at all,” said Jeff Bridges, who played Rooster Cogburn in the 2010 film version.

9. Wayne was a star, but still somewhat without honor. In a 1971 issue of Playboy, a writer from the magazine stated, “That oversight was belatedly rectified when his peers voted the tearful star a 1970 Oscar for his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn, the tobacco-chewing, hard-drinking, straight-shooting, patch-eyed marshal in ‘True Grit’ — a possibly unwitting exercise in self-parody that good-naturedly spoofed dozens of his past characterizations.”

10. “To my thinking, the original version of ‘True Grit’ was flat as a corn cake until John Wayne showed up on the screen,” wrote Larry McMurtry in the New York Review of Books in 2011.

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John Wayne was Rooster Cogburn in the 1969 Western “True Grit.” But by that time, the characteristically good-looking actor had added age and weight, and, for his Rooster role, an eye patch. He won his first acting Oscar for the part anyway. Here are some reasons why.
john wayne, role, rooster cogburn, iconic
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2015-27-17
Tuesday, 17 Mar 2015 12:27 PM
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