McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Letters

January 5, 2011

Letter to the editor: True Grit and McAlester

McALESTER — Editor:

“Lucky Ned Pepper had been seen three days earlier at McAlester’s store on the M. K, and T. railroad.”

This, of course, is the first reference to McAlester in Charles Portis’ 1968 novel True Grit. And in both the novel and in the 1969 motion picture U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne) and Texas Ranger La-Boeuf (Glen Campbell) eventually do make it to McAlester. In the novel and in the original motion picture it was in McAlester and from proprietor J.J. McAlester that the pair learned some valuable information that would eventually lead them to their sought-after fugitive — the murderer Tom Chaney.

I was saddened to learn this afternoon after watching the just-released new Coen Brothers motion picture “True Grit” with Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and Texas Ranger La-Boeuf (Matt Damon) that McAlester no longer exists in the story. All of the action seems to take place at a store deeper in the Kiamichi (Bagbys) which is mentioned in the original novel but not in the earlier movie.

So, although I recommend the new movie I do encourage both readers and movie watchers, young and old, to be sure and not forget the McAlester history and references in Charles Portis’ original work!

P.S. I was pleased to see in the new movie that the Winding Stair Mountains of southeastern Oklahoma are now not the snow-capped Grand Tetons as the original movie revealed.

 

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