Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the merriest meeting of night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Come on in out of the cold. Let us check your coat. We’re looking to spread some holiday cheer. Come sing with us. We’ve still got a few tables available. Bring your own beverage.
BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.
Last week, I asked you how many starts would Jordan Wicks make for the Cubs in 2024. I clearly put the over/under on the number of starts too low, because 88 percent of you thought that he would make at least 15 starts for the Cubs this upcoming season. Clearly you are all impressed with the Cubs’ 2021 first-round draft pick and think he’s going to be both healthy and in the starting rotation for most of the year.
So here’s the part where I put the music and the movies. Those of you who skip that can do so now. You wont hurt my feelings.
Tonight we’re going to do some holiday swinging Chicago-style. We’ve got the Ramsey Lewis Trio playing “Winter Wonderland.” We have Lewis on piano, Eldee Young on bass and Redd Holt on drums. This is from 1961.
In last week’s BCB Winter Western Classic, we had a tough matchup between director Sam Peckinpah’s classic The Wild Bunch and Anthony Mann’s The Naked Spur. It was a reasonably-close contest as the favorite The Wild Bunch triumphed by 56 to 44 percent.
Tonight we’ve got two more classic Westerns with 1969’s True Grit taking on My Darling Clementine from 1946.
True Grit (1969) #13 seed. Directed by Henry Hathaway. Starring John Wayne, Glen Campbell and Kim Darby.
True Grit is an old-fashioned crowd-pleaser of a movie. It mostly stands apart from the revolution in filmmaking in the “New Hollywood” era in which It was made. There are no real attempts at social relevance or commentary on current events. I guess if you squint hard enough, there’s a small bit of feminism in there, but its not presented in any way that would be threatening to the typical fan of John Wayne movies. But in Rooster Cogburn, Wayne puts his considerable charisma into an antihero twist on his typical leading man. In doing so, Wayne finally won the Academy Award for Best Actor that had eluded him for so long.
Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn is one Wayne’s most iconic roles and it’s not hard to see why. He plays a character quite divorced from the upstanding and honorable heroes that audiences were used to seeing him play. Cogburn is a US Marshal with a reputation for unorthodox methods and a disdain for the rules. He’s also has a reputation for having killed dozens of men, although he claims all of them were in self-defense or otherwise in the line of duty. (The court is dubious of that claim.) Cogburn is as foul-mouthed as he could be and still get a “G” rating in 1969. He’s also a slovenly, drunken and anti-social man, completely unsuited for any role in society other than the one he currently occupies—tracking down fugitives throughout the lawless Indian Territory.
Despite Coburn’s many faults, Wayne plays the one-eyed Cogburn as the lovable curmudgeon. He’s also intensely loyal to the few people he lets into his life and is willing to lay his life down in the service of justice. However, he’d rather that other people—primarily fugitives—lay down their lives instead.
Kim Darby plays Mattie Ross, a 14-year-old girl from Arkansas who travels to Fort Smith after he father’s murder at the hands of his employee on the ranch Tom Chaney (Jeff Corey). She wants justice for her father’s murder, but discovers that Chaney had fled into Indian Territory (Oklahoma) and that she would have to find a federal marshal to track down Chaney if she wants to see him apprehended. She has a choice of three, but she picks Cogburn against the advice of others. She thinks Cogburn has “true grit.” Proving that Cogburn is no knight in shining armor, he refuses to go after Chaney until Mattie offers him a $100 reward for the job.
Before they head out, Mattie is approached by a Texas Ranger named La Boeuf (Campbell) and pronounced “La Beef.” As it turns out, Chaney is also wanted in Texas for the murder of a state senator and there is a reward of a few thousand dollars for his arrest and return to Texas. As Le Boeuf explains, “It is a small reward, but he was not a large senator.”
Much against Mattie’s wishes, Cogburn decides to team up with La Boeuf and they can then split the two rewards. But against the wishes of Cogburn and La Boeuf, Mattie decides to tag along into dangerous Indian Territory. They try to stop her, but the resourceful Mattie quickly proves that there is no dissuading her when she puts her mind to something.
The main reason to watch True Grit is to see Wayne play Rooster Cogburn, Age and cancer had robbed Wayne of his all-American good looks by 1969, but his ability to light up a screen remained undimmed. I’ve often said that Wayne was a great actor when he wanted to be and unfortunately, he didn’t always want to be one. But in True Grit, Wayne puts in the effort. He’s irascible but honorable, drunken but capable, and gruff with a soft underbelly. And there may not be a more iconic moment on screen in Wayne’s career than when Cogburn faces off against four armed outlaws on horseback. He puts the reins of his horse in his mouth and charges, firing a pistol in one and and twirling and firing a rifle in the other. Somehow, he comes out of the encounter alive and the outlaws don’t.
Darby is also good as Ross, although she was 21 playing a 14-year-old and it shows. There’s nothing she could do about that. This is also unfair, but I think her performance suffers when compared to the job that a 13-year-old Hailee Steinfeld would do with the part 40 years later. But the Coen Brothers remake of True Grit is a very different movie with the same plot. But Darby plays Mattie as a girl with a strong moral compass, a sharp head for business and as she would put it, “grit.” Nowhere is she better than when she confronts a horse trader who defrauded her deceased father and manages to talk him into giving her the money back.
As far as Glen Campbell goes, there’s a reason that he never had a big acting career. There’s very little interesting about La Boeuf. It’s a bit of stunt casting gone wrong. At least we get to hear Campbell sing over the opening credits. But Robert Duvall is in there as Ned Pepper, the leader of the outlaw gang that Tom Chaney hooks up with, as well as a small but terrific performance by Dennis Hopper as a wounded outlaw interrogated by Rooster.
Henry Hathaway was an old-hand director who had been in the movie business since he was ten years old in 1908. He dropped out of school and worked his way up through the industry until he became a director, mostly of Westerns, in his early-thirties. True Grit is an old-fashioned movie in the best sense of the studio system that he worked in. It tells the story and doesn’t get too fancy. Hathaway shot the film in the Colorado and California mountains and gets some great scenery. He is also old-fashioned in the way that he uses those locals to recreate the rugged mountains and majestic pine forests of. . . .Oklahoma. Oh well, it looks great. I guess that’s what really matters in a movie like this.
As I wrote above, I think the whole film suffers a little bit when compared the 2010 Coen Brothers remake, which I believe to be the better movie that puts the focus more on Mattie, where it really belongs. But while Jeff Bridges does a very fine job as Rooster Cogburn, the one thing the original has that the remake doesn’t have is John Wayne doing some of his best work. And that’s why you should watch True Grit.
Here’s the trailer for True Grit. Take a look at how Hathaway recreates all the mountains of Oklahoma. You also get Cogburn’s iconic charge here as well.
My Darling Clementine (1946). #20 seed. Directed by John Ford. Starring Henry Fonda, Linda Darnell and Victor Mature.
Of all the film adaptations of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, My Darling Clementine is generally considered the best. That is despite, or maybe because of, it being perhaps the least historically-accurate retelling. But what Ford did with My Darling Clementine is to take the focus away from the politics of Tombstone and the violence of the shootout and put it squarely on the personal relationships between the main characters. This film is both epic and intimate.
Ford had known Wyatt Earp as a young director when Earp was serving as a technical consultant on Western pictures in the 1920s. So Ford got the story of the shootout from the man himself. This may have played a role in all the historical inaccuracies in the movie, since Earp would make things up to make himself seem more heroic and more important than he actually was. But it’s telling that instead of going with his usual leading man in Westerns, John Wayne, to play Wyatt Earp, Ford cast Henry Fonda instead. Fonda’s Wyatt Earp is certainly heroic, but it’s a much more casual kind of heroism. It’s more nuanced and less confident than what you might expect. Whereas Wayne might be expected to command the screen from the moment the camera hits him, Fonda is far more subtle in the way he seizes control of a scene.
But as anyone knows in a O.K. Corral story, while Wyatt Earp may be the lead, the troubled, tortured, tubercular and secretly sensitive Doc Holliday is the really meaty part. And Victor Mature really sinks his teeth into it. Much of the appeal of My Darling Clementine is the relationship between Wyatt and Doc and how they go from enemies to friends over the course of the film.
The film starts with a cattle drive by the Earp brothers across Ford’s beloved Monument Valley. (Which is hundreds of miles from Tombstone, by the way.) They run into the Clanton family, who offer to buy their cattle at a discount rather than them risking a trip on to California. Wyatt says no, but they learn that Tombstone is nearby, so the Earps decide to go into town for a shave, a bath and a night’s rest.
Wyatt jumps to action to disarm a “drunken Indian” who was shooting up a town saloon. He then gets offered the job of marshal, which he turns down. But when they return to their camp, Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan Earp discover that their cattle had been rustled and younger brother James, who had been left to stand guard, murdered. Wyatt reconsiders and accepts the marshal position in order to bring whomever killed his brother and stole his cattle to justice.
While playing poker, Wyatt catches Mexican singer/bargirl/prostitute Chihuahua (Linda Darnell) trying to help other players cheat. Chihuahua is Doc Holliday’s girl and she is fiercely jealous, especially when Clementine (Cathy Downs) arrives in Tombstone. See, Clementine was the girl that Doc had left behind back east and she’s looking for him. Doc is angry that Clementine has found him and leaves town. Meanwhile, there is an immediate attraction between Clementine and Wyatt, so Clementine probably wasn’t sticking around Tombstone for Doc anyway.
Wyatt discovers Chihuahua wearing a piece of jewelry that belonged to his brother James. She claims that Doc gave it to her, so Wyatt tracks down Doc to bring him back for the murder of his brother. After a showdown between the two men, Doc reveals that he’d never seen that jewelry before and didn’t give it to Chihuahua. They return to town to confront her, and she admits that one of the Clanton boys had actually given it to her.
The eventual gunfight, while historically inaccurate, is very well done. Monument Valley doesn’t play as big a role in My Darling Clementine as it does in a lot of other Ford pictures, but the town and the gunfight are framed by the beautiful vistas in the background. It’s a John Ford movie—of course it looks good.
As far as a piece of history goes, My Darling Clementine is nonsense. The Earps never drove cattle. James Earp was the oldest Earp brother, not the youngest, and lived until the 1920s. Virgil Earp, not Wyatt, was the town marshal of Tombstone. Doc and Wyatt knew each other and were friends before either got to Tombstone. Doc Holliday was a dentist, not a surgeon. The characters of Chihuahua and Clementine were invented—you can’t call a movie My Darling Clementine without having a character named Clementine, I suppose. I could go on with the falsehoods.
But if you just look at My Darling Clementine as a film and not a piece of history, it’s a really great movie. Fonda, Mature and Darnell are all very, very good. There are some lovely beats in the film, such as when Wyatt and Doc track down a missing actor and find him drunk and being threatened by the Clanton gang. Henry Fonda throwing Linda Darnell into a watering trough is a heck of a lot of fun. Again, My Darling Clementine is much more about the people in Tombstone and their relationship to each other than it is about gunfights and frontier politics. It’s a better film for it.
Here’s the trailer for My Darling Clementine.
Now it’s time for you to vote.
True Grit or My Darling Clementine?
This poll is closed
My Darling Clementine
True Grit is available on Amazon Prime, Paramount+ and MGM+, as well as a few other services. My Darling Clementine is on the Criterion Channel and there’s a copy that’s been uploaded to YouTube as well. Also, if you have a cable or satellite subscription that has FX Movies, you may be able to stream it through them. I know you can on DirecTV.
Coming up on Wednesday is director John Sturges’ 1960 classic, The Magnificent Seven. It takes on director Delmer Davis’ 1957 psychological Western, 3:10 to Yuma. The Magnificent Seven is available for streaming in so many places that if you can’t find it, you aren’t trying. It’s on Amazon Prime and there’s also a free copy on YouTube Movies. Also the Pluto and Tubi free services. 3:10 to Yuma is harder to find, but it’s available for rent everywhere. There’s also a copy out there on the Internet Archive if you look.
Welcome back to everyone who skips the music and movies.
We’re all frustrated with the slow pace of signings and the lack of activity on the part of the Cubs. But honestly, none of the free agents that they were expected to target have signed yet, other than Ohtani which was always a longshot. None of their expected trade targets, other than Tyler Glasnow, have been dealt either and when I asked you around here about trading for Glasnow, the overwhelming sentiment was against it.
But if you’re frustrated about not being able to read about Cubs signings, think of how frustrated we are about not being able to write about them.
But Sara Sanchez has been doing a great little advent calendar feature this season and today she got to one of my favorite subjects, Cubs closer Adbert Alzolay. I’d certainly encourage you to read it if you haven’t already. I’ll wait.
Are we all back now?
Alzolay was a very good pitcher last season, racking up 22 saves in 25 save opportunities. He did this despite not really taking ahold of the closer’s job until just before the All-Star Break.
So today’s question is: Will Adbert Alzolay have 30 or more saves for the Cubs in 2024? It doesn’t seem like a lot to from 22 saves to 30 saves when he was only the closer for a little over half the season last year. But the Cubs haven’t had a 30-save season since Wade Davis in 2017. And for Alzolay to save 30 games in 2024, he’s going to have to stay healthy, stay effective and remain the closer for most of the season. That also means that the Cubs won’t go out and sign Josh Hader or trade for Emmanuel Clase. (I suppose Alzolay will also have to not be traded, but I don’t think that’s very likely at all.)
Those are all some pretty big conditions. Alzolay already missed most of 2022 with an injury and he was out for much of last September with a forearm strain. It’s not like he has a proven record of durability.
So, tell us. Will Adbert Alzolay save 30 games for the Cubs in 2024?
How many saves will Adbert Alzolay have for the Cubs in 2024?
This poll is closed
30 or more
Less than 30
Thanks for stopping by. We’re glad that you weren’t too busy shopping and decorating to spend some time with us. Let us get your coat for you. Please stay warm out there. Get home safely. Tip your waitstaff. And join us again tomorrow for more BCB After Dark.