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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Rooster Cogburn (1975)

A hard drinking boozer and often trigger happy U.S. Marshal (John Wayne) is stripped of his badge. But when a cutthroat gang of killers attack a settlement and kill several Indians as well as a pastor (Jon Lormer), a judge (John McIntire) restores his deputy authority. The pastor's daughter (Katharine Hepburn) insists on accompanying the Marshal to see her father's murderers are caught. Not officially a sequel to the Oscar winning TRUE GRIT, the film utilizes the character of Rooster Cogburn (again played by Wayne) in an unconnected story. The narrative is hardly fresh, the plot itself is an unsubtle reworking of THE AFRICAN QUEEN with a bit of RIVER OF NO RETURN tossed in. The mundane screenplay was written by the producer Hal B. Wallis' wife, the actress Martha Hyer, under the pseudonym of Martin Julien. The cinematographer Harry Stradling Jr. (THE WAY WE WERE) does a wonderful job of capturing the stunning Oregon vistas, its mountains, meadows and rivers with his Panavision lens. But it's the pure Star power teaming of Wayne and Hepburn that carries the film and gives it whatever worth it may have as cinema. Their chemistry isn't great but they play off each other well but one can't help but looking at this as a missed opportunity, if only the material had been worthy of them. Directed without any discernment by Stuart Millar. With Richard Jordan, Anthony Zerbe and Strother Martin.

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