Frank Ross goes to Fort Smith, Arkansas for selling horses. He takes his hired hand, Tom Chaney(Jeff Corey) with him. Frank had hired Chaney in the recent past. After he got hired, Chaney has been living in the farm with the Ross family. At Fort Smith, Chaney kills Frank in a drunken outrage and flees.
Hearing her father’s demise, Mattie Ross(Kim Darby) arrives in Fort Smith. After witnessing a public hanging in the city, Mattie is determined to bring Chaney to justice. On enquiring about the right guy to do this job, she is directed to Rooster Cogburn(John Wayne), the one-eyed US Marshal who wears a permanent eye-patch.
Mattie investigates on the whereabouts of Chaney. She is informed that Chaney was last seen with Ned Pepper(Robert Duvall). Then, Mattie goes in search of Rooster. When she finds him, Rooster is not interested in this venture. Rooster is an aging gun who is drunk when he is not apprehending criminals. Determined to get assistance from Rooster, Mattie offers a reward for finding Chaney.
But, there is one more man who is planning to arrest Chaney. He is Le Boeuf(Glen Campbell), an young Texas Ranger. Chaney had fled Texas after murdering a senator. Now, Le Boeuf is on Chaney’s trail.
Soon, Rooster and Le Boeuf join forces to capture Chaney. They reluctantly take Mattie along with them on this mission as she is adamant in following them. The hunt for Chaney forms the rest of the story.
Henry Hathaway directs this Western, adapted from a novel of the same name by Charles Portis. Henry focuses on the preparation for the adventure and difficulties faced by the protagonists. Since the movie is an adaptation, the protagonists have more depth than the routine single dimensional ones that you find in a Western.
John Wayne plays the role in his characteristic style – that of a ruffian with a know-it-all attitude who always ready to preach. He has played similar roles countless times in the past. Still, it is fun to watch him play the aging gun. Although he won an Oscar for his performance in this movie, this is not his best performance.
You will also find a very young Dennis Hopper doing a small role in this movie as an outlaw named Moon.
Watch this for John Wayne.
Watch it also to see what westerns were before Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood.
Picture Courtesy: Yahoo! Movies