Locals recall 1969 ‘True Grit,’ curious about 2010 version
Tammee Tuttle is not alone when she questions the need to remake any John Wayne film.
Tuttle is co-owner of Ridgway’s True Grit Cafe, 123 N. Lena, where the spirit of the original “True Grit” lives on through posters and photographs of Wayne that line the cafe’s walls. The film was shot in and around Ridgway in 1968.
Many locals and tourists have asked Tuttle why Hollywood bothered to remake the 1969 Western directed by Henry Hathaway that garnered Wayne critical acclaim.
Tuttle has no answer because she has asked the same question herself ever since she learned earlier this year that a remake of “True Grit” would be released Wednesday, Dec. 22, with Jeff Bridges in the Marshall Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn role that Wayne played.
“It’s the John Wayne factor,” Tuttle said. “I have yet to talk to anyone who is buying into Jeff Bridges as Cogburn. And why would you?”
All the questions aside, Tuttle plans to see the 2010 version of “True Grit” directed by brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, who also were behind “No Country for Old Men” and “Burn After Reading.”
The new “True Grit” was filmed primarily in the Granger, Texas, area with zero use of the San Juan Mountains that played a feature role in the original.
Some locals were a little irritated that the Coen brothers did not return to the Ridgway area for the remake, Tuttle said, but locals weren’t as miffed about the decision to film in Texas as they were about anyone filming the movie in general.
After all, Wayne won an Oscar for his portrayal of Cogburn, a rough-around-the-edges lawman.
“John Wayne never played the part. He played John Wayne,” Tuttle said. “(Bridges) is going to have to play his part,” and it is difficult to believe anyone could recreate a John Wayne role.
Although Tuttle isn’t the only one shaking her head, her opinion isn’t shared by everyone in the area.
Montrose artist Bob DeJulio, 79, who helped paint the lettering used on the film’s original sets, is interested in seeing the remake, particularly Bridges.
“I’d like to compare the two,” DeJulio said. “I’m a huge John Wayne fan. I have all his movies ... (but) I like Jeff Bridges.”
DeJulio isn’t the only one who played a part in the making of the original and curious about the new version.
“I’m definitely going to go see it. I’m really curious to see how Jeff Bridges portrays Rooster Cogburn,” said Frank Francese, 59, who was a junior at Montrose High School when he was cast as an extra for the opening scenes of “True Grit.”
He remembers the experience fondly, mostly because it gave him an excuse to grow his hair long and miss school.
“It was the biggest thing to hit Montrose for a long, long time,” Francese said. “We were the talk of the school. ... It brought a lot of pride to the area. It was like, ‘Wow. They are going to shoot a movie here.’ “
Francese remembers actor Glen Campbell bringing his guitar into Montrose’s Red Barn to hang out after filming.
Businesses shut down when Wayne walked in. Wayne was “larger than life,” he said.
And so, on Wednesday, let the comparisons begin: Wayne and Bridges; Ridgway and Granger; and Hathaway and the Coen brothers.
“I think it will be ‘True Grit,’ but it won’t be the same ‘True Grit’ we saw,” Tuttle said.