John Wayne’s Departure from ‘True Grit’ Novel for Its Sequel

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“Rooster Cogburn,” released in 1975, is a notable Western film that stands as a sequel to the iconic “True Grit,” in which John Wayne reprised his Academy Award-winning role as Rooster Cogburn. The film pairs Wayne’s grizzled U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn with an unlikely partner, Miss Eula Goodnight, portrayed by Katharine Hepburn, on a revenge quest against an outlaw named Hawk, played by Richard Jordan.

The original “True Grit” depicted Marshal Cogburn teaming up with a young girl named Mattie Ross to hunt down an outlaw. “Rooster Cogburn” essentially mirrors the plot of the first movie, with Rooster joining forces with a new companion, Miss Goodnight, and an Indian named Wolf, seeking vengeance for her father’s death at the hands of Hawk and his gang. The film’s setting traverses Arkansas, though the actual filming occurred in Oregon.

While the movie follows a similar revenge storyline, it deviates by introducing a romantic element between Rooster Cogburn and Miss Goodnight, drawing inspiration from Hepburn’s previous film, “The African Queen.” Unlike the original “True Grit,” which lacked any romantic subplot, “Rooster Cogburn” explores the relationship between the two leads, adding depth and complexity to Rooster’s character beyond his tough exterior.

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John Wayne’s portrayal of Rooster Cogburn in “Rooster Cogburn” exhibits a softer side of the iconic Marshal. Despite retaining his gruff and rugged persona, the film delves deeper into Cogburn’s emotional depth and even hints at a potential romantic connection with Miss Goodnight. This portrayal offers a different facet of the character compared to his paternal relationship with Mattie Ross in “True Grit.”

Interestingly, “Rooster Cogburn” marked the only traditional sequel in John Wayne’s extensive career. While the film reunited Wayne and Hepburn, the critical reception was mixed. Critics noted that the movie fell short of the high standards set by “True Grit,” deeming it a recycled attempt at capturing the essence of the original. However, despite its shortcomings, witnessing John Wayne reprise his role as Rooster Cogburn was a highlight for many fans.

Following “Rooster Cogburn,” a sequel to “True Grit” was produced in 1978, titled “True Grit: A Further Adventure,” which did not involve Wayne. This made-for-TV sequel was met with even less favorability, further solidifying Wayne’s departure from the character.

“Rooster Cogburn” remains available for rental on Prime Video in the U.S., allowing audiences to revisit the Duke’s iconic Western character in this unique sequel.