10 January 2011
"True Grit & The News
I first saw True Grit on July 20th 1969 at Radio City Music Hall with my grandmother. We took the train from Greenwich where I was spending a summer with my grandparents and aunt and uncle. The day before news broke of Chappaquiddick. I would soon be 12 but remember being confused by the news and the whispered speculation in the living room.
I was not confused by True Grit. I was attracted to Kim Darby, worshipped John Wayne and had to know how Glenn Campbell got his hair to part like that. I'm not sure if the movie had an intermission but the film was stopped and an announcement was made inviting us to the lobby.
People mulled around televisions in a huge space filled with light and cigarette smoke as we all watched Apollo 11 land on the moon. The contrast to earlier news was lost on me. All I remember was wanting to get back to the movie.
True Grit stayed with me for years. A soundtrack my father always played. My love for Kim Darby never faded despite her not answering a fan letter and Christmas card. The Duke is a close second to The Great One who is first on my list of childhood idols and I gave up on Glenn Campbell's part.
I saw the Coen Brother's version of True Grit yesterday afternoon at 4PM. Watching the movie was like remembering a map from 40 years ago. Things had changed but I knew where I was going. Sadly, there was news as well. I can't even begin to understand what happened Saturday. As I grow older it seems there's even less I understand. But like that map...I have a sense I've been down that road and I'm worried about what's coming.
No doubt there was an 11 year old boy in the audience last night. I wonder if he'll see a remake 40 years from now. It will be 2051. He'll remember the beauty of the Ziegfeld theater, the charm of True Grit and he'll understand those last words of a much older Mattie Ross, "Time just gets away from us."