Rooster Cogburn is about a marshal who has to turn in his badge because he has killed too many people in the line of duty, sixty according to John Wayne when he is defending himself in court. At the beginning of the movie his deputy is shot and he shoots the four people who have shot his deputy giving him an even higher body count. However, Rooster Cogburn is recruited to take down some men who have stolen some nitro glysterine from a group of military people. Rooster Cogburn sets off after the men with no deputies because nobody is brave enough to go with him. However, along the way he picks up a woman played by Katherine Hepburn and a Native American boy who had their families killed by the criminals at an outpost. Now John Wayne, Katherine Hepburn and the Native American boy named Wolf all have to bring down the criminals led by a ruthless criminal named Hawk and get the nitro glysterine back before the criminals can rob a bank with the nitro.
The acting in this movie is fantastic. John Wayne does a great job as the hero and Katherine Hepburn does a great job as the female lead in the movie. They have a great character chemistry between them that is actually quite poignant at times. This is one of the western movies about how the old west is coming to an end and lawyers are taking over for people with guns in the name of progress. John Wayne and Katherine Hepburn are also getting older and coming to an end with their careers. This would be John Wayne’s second to last movie right before the Shootist, which is a movie I will be reviewing tomorrow or at least watching tomorrow and reviewing on Saturday. This is also one of the last movies for Katherine Hepburn.
The action in this movie is pretty good. Rooster Cogburn has a gun fight with four men at the beginning of the movie who have killed his deputy. He easily defeats them, but we are introduced to some much tougher villains later on in the movie who kill some soldiers and steal the nitro glysterine. John Wayne manages to catch up with the wagon that is carrying the nitro glysterine and they kill two of the criminals when they steal the wagon. They are chased with the wagon and manage to hold the criminals off with a gatling gun until they reach a river and take a raft down stream. The criminals chase after them but are again held off by the gatling gun. John Wayne, Katherine Hepburn and Wolf eventually go over some rapids and lose their gatling gun. However, they hatch a plan to take down the remaining criminals with the explosives that they are carrying. As we move down the list for my favorite John Wayne movies, the action will generally increase for each movie because it wouldn’t be a true John Wayne movie in my mind unless he was kicking some ass. You can keep that Quiet Man stuff when it comes to John Wayne.
The character chemistry between John Wayne and Katherine Hepburn with them bickering back and forth at each other is actually pretty amusing. Also, there is an amusing appearance from a man who is in charge of the raft that they take down stream. It’s typical, curmudgeonly, John Wayne, 1970s, western kind of humor. you would know the kind of humor I mean if you have seen some of these movies. It’s very dry and screwy.
There are a couple of suspenseful parts in this movie when the criminals sneak up on John Wayne and Katherine Hepburn. They capture Wolf, but Wolf manages to escape with a small hand gun. Another suspenseful part is when they go down the rapids. The rapids are actually more dangerous than the criminals seem to be. John Wayne, Katherine Hepburn and Wolf easily seem to defeat the criminals in this movie, but they are actually almost killed off when they go down the rapids.
John Wayne as usual plays a great hero as Rooster Cogburn. Rooster Cogburn is a curmudgeonly, older fellow who made a previous appearance in True Grit. He seems to be able to handle the villains better in this movie than he did in True Grit. He has some close calls but generally he manages to out wit the villains at every turn.
Katherine Hepburn is a tough, older lady in this movie. She is actually my second favorite woman to be in a John Wayne movie at least that I know of at this time. She might be a bit older, but she can still hold her own against the rest of the people in this movie. She has a spunky, confident attitude but is also a woman of God with some strong morals and stands against such things as Rooster Cogburn’s drinking. At one point the main villain named Hawk shoots several times at her, but she bravely stands her ground while quoting the Bible at him and upsets Hawk. Another time she shoots a criminal who is about to shoot John Wayne and saves John Wayne.
The villain in this movie is incredibly average. He’s just your typical bandit named Hawk. However, he has a man who works with him that used to work for John Wayne and is much more interesting because he seems to be not really on anybody’s side. He helps to get the soldiers killed by leading them into a trap and he kills some Native Americans with nitro glysterine, but he also stabs one of the criminals when the criminal says that the man is only out for himself. He also shoots one of the criminals, who is about to shoot John Wayne, as a way of paying John Wayne back. He then gets kicked off of a cliff by the main villain.
The music for this movie is not very memorable. The setting for this movie is the country of the south west. It has a lot of forests in the area. It’s not very memorable. However, there is one scene when John Wayne, Katherine Hepburn and Wolf go down the rapids, which is pretty exciting and is a good use of the cliffs for a shoot out and the rapids when they go after them, lose their gatling gun and are almost killed off.
My favorite gun in this movie was the gatling gun. John Wayne uses it to hold off the villains at a couple of points. Hawk says that John Wayne does not know how to use the gatling gun at one point, but John Wayne shoots the gatling at the criminals with incredible power. Afterwards he asks the criminal rhetorically if that is how the gun works, which I found amusing. Unfortunately, they eventually lose the gatling gun when they go down the rapids.
Rooster Cogburn would be John Wayne’s second to last movie and I think Katherine Hepburn’s last movie. Many actors such as Bela Lugosi end with some pretty crummy movies, but I am glad that John Wayne and Katherine Hepburn both ended on high notes with their acting careers because the tough couple definitely deserved it after making so many good movies.