True Grit Quotes: Smart and Strong

(Total Quotes: 99)

Directed by:
Ethan Coen
Joel Coen
Written by:
Joel Coen (screenplay)
Ethan Coen (screenplay)
Charles Portis (novel)
Jeff Bridges – Rooster Cogburn
Hailee Steinfeld – Mattie Ross
Matt Damon – LaBoeuf
Josh Brolin – Tom Chaney
Barry Pepper – Lucky Ned Pepper
Dakin Matthews – Col. Stonehill
Jarlath Conroy – Undertaker
Paul Rae – Emmett Quincy
Domhnall Gleeson – Moon (The Kid)
Elizabeth Marvel – 40-Year-Old Mattie
Roy Lee Jones – Yarnell
Ed Corbin – Bear Man
Leon Russom – Sheriff
Bruce Green – Harold Parmalee
Candyce Hinkle – Boarding House Landlady
Peter Leung – Mr. Lee
Don Pirl – Cole Younger


True Grit quotes are strong, smart, engrossing, compelling with flashes of black humor thrown in. The movie is very reminiscent of old classic Hollywood westerns with plot and character driven storytelling.

Verdict: The Coens’ honors the original film and gives the story new life.

True Grit Quotes Page  1   2


[first lines]
40-Year-Old Mattie: [voice over] People do not give it credence that a young girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father’s blood, but it did happen. I was just fourteen years of age when a coward by the name of Tom Chaney shot my father down, and robbed him of his life and his horse and two California gold pieces that he carried in his trouser band. Chaney was a hired man, and Papa had taken him up to Fort Smith to help lead back a string of mustang ponies he’d bought. In town, Chaney had fallen to drink and cards, and lost all his money. He got it into his head he was been cheated and went back to the boarding house for his Henry rifle. When Papa tried to intervene, Chaney shot him.


40-Year-Old Mattie: [voice over] Chaney fled. He could have walked his horse, for not a sole in that city could be bothered to give chase. No doubt Chaney fancied himself scot free, but he was wrong. You must pay for everything in this world, one way and another. There is nothing free, except the grace of God.



Undertaker: Is that the man?
Mattie Ross: That is my father.
Undertaker: If you would like to kiss him it would be all right.
Yarnell: He has gone home. Praise the lord.
Mattie Ross: Why is it so much?
Undertaker: The quality of the casket and of the embalming. The life like appearance requires time and art. And the chemicals come dear. The particulars are in your bill. If you’d like to kiss him it would be all right.
Mattie Ross: Thank you. The spirit has flown.


Undertaker: You did not specify that he was to be shipped.
Mattie Ross: Well sixty dollars is every cent we have. It leaves nothing for our board. Yarnell, you can see to the body’s transport to the train station and accompany it home, I will have to sleep here tonight. I still have to collect father’s things and see to some other business.
Yarnell: Your mama didn’t say nothin’ about you seein’ to no business here!
Mattie Ross: It is business Mama doesn’t know about. It’s all right, Yarnell, I dismiss you.
Yarnell: I am not sure…
Mattie Ross: Tell mama not to sign anything until I return home and see that Papa is buried in his mason’s apron.


Mattie Ross: Your terms are agreeable if I may pass the night here.
Undertaker: Here? Among these people?
[Mattie looks around the empty room]
Mattie Ross: These people?
Undertaker: I am expecting three more souls. Sullivan, Smith, and His Tongue In The Rain.


[at the Gallows three men are about to be hanged]
Repentant Condemned Man: Ladies and gentlemen beware and train up your children in the way that they should go! You see what has become of me because of drink. I killed a man in a trifling quarrel over a pocketknife. If I had received good instruction as a child…
[to the woman next to her in the crowd]
Mattie Ross: Can you point out the sheriff?
[The woman indicates a figure sitting at the gallows behind the condemned men]
Woman at Hanging: Him with the mustaches.
Repentant Condemned Man: I would be with my wife and children today. I do not know what is to become of them, but I hope and pray that you will not slight them and compel them to go into low company.
[he starts to cry and a man standing by slips a black hood over his head]


Unrepentant Condemned Man: Well, I killed the wrong man is the which-of-why I’m here. Had I killed the man I meant to I don’t believe I would have been convicted. I see men out there in that crowd is worse than me.
[he looks at the man standing behind him and nods]
Unrepentant Condemned Man: Okay.
[the man behind him slips a black hood over his head and the Indian next to him starts to speak]
Condemned Indian: Before I am hanged, I would like to say…
[the man behind him slips a hood over his head and the executioner opens the trap door and all three men are hanged]


Sheriff: No, we ain’t arrested him. Ain’t caught up to him, he lit out for the Territory. I would think he has throwed in with Lucky Ned Pepper, whose gang robbed a mail hack yesterday on the Poteau River.
Mattie Ross: Why are you not looking for him?
Sheriff: I have no authority in the Indian Nation. Tom Chaney is the business of the U.S. marshals now.
Mattie Ross: When will they arrest him?
Sheriff: Not soon I am afraid. The marshals are not well staffed and, I tell you frankly, Chaney is at the end of a long list of fugitives and malefactors.


Mattie Ross: Could I hire a marshal to pursue Tom Chaney?
Sheriff: You have a lot of experience with bounty hunters?
Mattie Ross: That is a silly question. I am here to settle my father’s affairs.
Sheriff: All alone?
Mattie Ross: Well, I am the person for it. Mama was never any good at sums and she can hardly spell cat. I intend to see papa’s killer hanged.
Sheriff: Well, Nothing prevents you from offering a reward, or from so informing a marshal. It would have to be real money, though, to be persuasive. Chaney is across the river in Choctaw Nation
Mattie Ross: I will see to the money. Who’s the best marshal?
Sheriff: Well, I’d have to weigh that. William Waters is the best tracker. He is half Comanche and it is something to see him cut for sign. The meanest is Rooster Cogburn. He is a pitiless man, double tough and fear don’t enter into his thinking. He loves to pull a cork. The best is probably L.T. Quinn, he brings his prisoners in alive. Now he may let one slip by now and again but he believes even the worst of men is entitled to a fair shake.
Mattie Ross: Where can I find this Rooster?


[Mattie knocks the rough wooden door of an outhouse]
Rooster Cogburn: The jakes is occupied.
Mattie Ross: I know it is occupied Mr. Cogburn. As I said, I have business with you.
Rooster Cogburn: I have prior business.
Mattie Ross: You have been at it for quite some time, Mr. Cogburn.
Rooster Cogburn: There is no clock on my business! To hell with you! How did you stalk me here?!
Mattie Ross: The sheriff told me to look in the saloon. In the saloon they referred me here. We must talk.
Rooster Cogburn: Women ain’t allowed in the saloon!
Mattie Ross: I was not there as a customer. I am fourteen years old.
[there’s a silence before Cogburn responds]
Mattie Ross: The jakes is occupied. Will be for some time.


Mattie Ross: How much are you paying for cotton?
[Stonehill looks up from his desk]
Col. Stonehill: Nine and a half for low middling and ten for ordinary.
Mattie Ross: We got most of ours out early. Sold it to Woodson Brothers in Little Rock for eleven cents.
Col. Stonehill: Then I suggest you take the balance of it to the Woodson Brothers.
Mattie Ross: We took the balance to Woodson. We got ten and a half.
Col. Stonehill: Why’d you come here to tell me this?
Mattie Ross: I thought we might shop around up here next year but I guess we are doing all right in Little Rock.


Mattie Ross: I am Mattie Ross, daughter of Frank Ross.
Col. Stonehill: Oh, a tragic thing. May I say your father impressed me with his manly qualities. He was a close trader but he acted the gentleman.
Mattie Ross: Well, I propose to sell those ponies back to you that my father bought.
Col. Stonehill: That, I fear, is out of the question. I will see that they are shipped to you at my earliest convenience.
Mattie Ross: We don’t want the ponies now. We don’t need ’em.
Col. Stonehill: Well that hardly concerns me. Your father bought the ponies and paid for them and there is an end of it. I-I have the bill of sale.
Mattie Ross: And I want three hundred dollars for Papa’s saddle horse that was stolen from your stable.
Col. Stonehill: You’ll have to take that up with the man who stole the horse.
Mattie Ross: Tom Chaney stole the horse while it was in your care. You are responsible.
[Stonehill chuckles]


Col. Stonehill: Yeah, I admire your sand but I believe you will find I’m not liable for such claims.
Mattie Ross: You were the custodian. If you were a bank and were robbed you could not simply tell the depositors to go hang.
Col. Stonehill: I do not entertain hypotheticals, the world as it is is vexing enough. Secondly, your valuation of the horse is high by about two hundred dollars. How old are you?
Mattie Ross: If anything my price is low. Christ, Judy is a fine racing mare. I’ve seen her jump an eight-rail fence with a heavy rider and I am fourteen.
Col. Stonehill: Oh, well, that’s all very interesting. The ponies are yours, take them. Your father’s horse was stolen by a murderous criminal. I had provided reasonable protection for the creature as per our implicit agreement. My watchman had his teeth knocked out and can take only soup.
Mattie Ross: Then I will take it to law.
Col. Stonehill: You have no case!
Mattie Ross: Lawyer J. Noble Daggett of Dardanelle, Arkansas may think otherwise, as might a jury, petitioned by a widow and three small children.


Col. Stonehill: I will pay two hundred dollars to your father’s estate when I have in my hand a letter from your lawyer absolving me of all liability from the beginning of the world to date.
Mattie Ross: I will take two hundred dollars for Judy, plus one hundred for the ponies and twenty-five dollars for the gray horse that Tom Chaney left. He was easily worth forty. And that is three hundred twenty-five dollars total.
Col. Stonehill: The ponies have no part in it! I will not buy them.
Mattie Ross: Then the price for Judy is three hundred twenty-five dollars.
Col. Stonehill: I would not pay three hundred and twenty-five dollars for winged Pegasus! As for the gray horse, it does not belong to you!
Mattie Ross: The gray was lent to Tom Chaney by my father. Chaney only had the use of him.
Col. Stonehill: I will pay two hundred and twenty-five dollars and keep the gray horse. I don’t want the ponies.
Mattie Ross: I cannot accept that. There will be no settlement after I leave this office. It will go to law.
Col. Stonehill: All right, this is my last offer. Two hundred and fifty dollars. For that I get the release previously discussed and I keep your father’s saddle. The gray horse is not yours to sell.
Mattie Ross: The saddle is not for sale. I will keep it. Lawyer Dagget will prove ownership of the gray horse. He will come after you with a writ of replevin.
Col. Stonehill: A what?
Mattie Ross: Writ of replevin.
Col. Stonehill: All right, now let…listen very carefully as I will not bargain further. I will take the ponies back and the gray horse, which is mine, and settle for three hundred dollars. Now you must take that or leave it and I do not much care which it is.
Mattie Ross: Well, Lawyer Daggett would not wish me to consider anything under three hundred twenty five dollars. But I will settle for three hundred and twenty, if I am given the twenty in advance. Now here is what I have to say about the saddle…


Boarding House Landlady: Are you gonna be stayin’ with us or are you hurrying back home to your mama?
Mattie Ross: Well, I’ll stay here if you can have me. I had to spend last night at the undertakers in the company of three corpses. I felt like Ezekiel, in the valley of the dry bones.
Boarding House Landlady: And the lord bless you.


[Mattie unfolds a blanket to reveal a watch, a knife, and a long-barreled revolver]
Boarding House Landlady: This was in the poor father’s room. Now that is everything, there are no light fingers in this house.
[Mattie picks up the gun and holds it in her hands]
Boarding House Landlady: Now if you need something for to tote the gun around I can give you an empty flour sack for a nickel.


[Mattie is watching Cogburn being questioned as a witness in the courtroom]
Lawyer Goudy: Mr. Cogburn, in your four years as U.S. marshal, how many men have you shot?
Rooster Cogburn: I never shot nobody I didn’t have to.
Lawyer Goudy: Well, that was not the question. How many?
Rooster Cogburn: Shot or killed?
Lawyer Goudy: Let us restrict it to “killed” so that we may have a manageable figure.
Rooster Cogburn: About twelve, fifteen. Stopping men in flight, defending myself, et cetera.
Lawyer Goudy: Around twelve he says, or fifteen. So many that you cannot keep a precise count. I have examined the records and can supply the accurate figure.
Rooster Cogburn: Well, I believe them two Whartons makes it twenty-three.
Lawyer Goudy: And how many members of this one family, the Wharton family, have you killed?
Rooster Cogburn: Immediate, or…
Lawyer Goudy: Did you also shoot Dub Wharton, brother, and Clete Wharton, half-brother?
Rooster Cogburn: Oh, Clete was selling ardent spirits to the Cherokee. He come at me with a king bolt.
Lawyer Goudy: A king bolt? Now you were armed and he advanced upon you with nothin’ more than a king bolt? From a wagon tongue?
Rooster Cogburn: I’ve seen men badly tore up with things no bigger than a king bolt. I defended myself.
Lawyer Goudy: Returning to the other encounter with Aaron Wharton and his two remaining sons, you sprang from cover with revolver in hand?true-grit-2
Rooster Cogburn: I did.
Lawyer Goudy: Loaded and cocked?
Rooster Cogburn: Well, if it ain’t loaded and cocked it don’t shoot.
[the courtroom crowd laugh]
Lawyer Goudy: And like his son, Aaron Wharton advanced against an armed man?
Rooster Cogburn: Well, he was armed. He had that axe raised.


Lawyer Goudy: Now, I believe you testified that you backed away from Aaron Wharton?
That’s right.
Lawyer Goudy: Which direction were you going?
Rooster Cogburn: I always go backwards when I’m backing up.
[the courtroom crowd laugh]


Lawyer Goudy: Now, he advanced upon you much in the manner of Clete Wharton, menacing you with that little old king bolt or rolled up newspaper or whatever it was.
Rooster Cogburn: Yes sir. He commenced to cussing and laying about with threats.
Lawyer Goudy: And you were backing away? How many steps before the shooting started?
Rooster Cogburn: Uh…seven, eight steps?
Lawyer Goudy: So Aaron Wharton keeping pace, advancing away from his camp fire seven, eight step. What would that be, fifteen, twenty feet?
Rooster Cogburn: I suppose.
Lawyer Goudy: Will you explain to this jury, Mr. Cogburn, why Mr. Wharton was found immediately by his wash pot, one arm in the fire, his sleeve and hand smoldering?
Rooster Cogburn: Well…
Lawyer Goudy: Did you move the body after you shot him?
Rooster Cogburn: Why would I do that?
Lawyer Goudy: You did not drag the body over to the fire? Fling his arm in?
Rooster Cogburn: No sir.
Lawyer Goudy: Two witnesses who arrived on the scene will testify to the location of the body. You do not remember moving the body? So it was a cold blooded bushwhack, while poor Wharton was tendin’ to his campfire?
First Lawyer: Objection.
Rooster Cogburn: I…if that was where the body was I might have moved him. I do not remember.
Lawyer Goudy: Why would you move the body, Mr. Cogburn?
Rooster Cogburn: Them hogs rootin’ around, they might have moved him. I do not remember.


Mattie Ross: Mr. Cogburn?
Rooster Cogburn: What is it?
Mattie Ross: I’d like to talk to you a minute.
Rooster Cogburn: What is it?
Mattie Ross: They tell me you are a man with true grit.
Rooster Cogburn: What do you want, girl? Speak up. It’s supper time.
Mattie Ross: Let me do that.
[she takes the cigarette he’s trying to roll]
Mattie Ross: Your makings are too dry. I am looking for the man who shot and killed my father, Frank Ross, in front of the Monarch boarding house. The man’s name is Tom Chaney. They say he is over in Indian Territory and I need somebody to go after him.
[she twists and licks the cigarette roll]


Rooster Cogburn: What’s your name, girl?
Mattie Ross: My name is Mattie Ross. We are located in Yell County. My mother is at home looking after my sister Victoria and my brother Little Frank.
Rooster Cogburn: You had best go home to them. They will need help with the churnin’.
Mattie Ross: There is a fugitive warrant out for Chaney. Government will pay you two dollars for bringin’ him in plus ten cents a mile for each of you. On top of that I will pay you a fifty dollar reward.


Rooster Cogburn: What are you? What you got there in your poke?
[he opens up the flour sack she’s holding and takes out the revolver]
Rooster Cogburn: My God! A Colt’s dragoon! You’re no bigger than a corn nubbin, what are you doin’ with a pistol like that?
Mattie Ross: Well, I intend to kill Tom Chaney with it.
Rooster Cogburn: Kill Tom Chaney?
Mattie Ross: Well, if the law fails to do so.
Rooster Cogburn: Well, that piece will do the job for you, if you found a highstump to rest it on and a wall to put behind you.
Mattie Ross: Nobody here knew my father and I am afraid nothing is going to be done about Chaney except I do it. My brother is a child and my mother is indecisive and hobbled by grief.
Rooster Cogburn: I don’t believe you have fifty dollars.
Mattie Ross: I have a contract with Colonel Stonehill which he will make payment on tomorrow or the next day, once a lawyer countersigns.
Rooster Cogburn: I don’t believe in fairy tales or sermons or stories about money, baby sister. But thank you for the cigarette.


[Mattie wakes up to see LeBoeuf is sitting on chair opposite her bed, watching her]
LeBoeuf: My name is LeBoeuf. I’ve just come from Yell County.
Mattie Ross: We have no rodeo clowns in Yell County.true-grit-4
LeBoeuf: A saucy line will not get you far with me. I saw your mother yesterday mornin’. She said for you to come right on home.
Mattie Ross: What was your business there?
[LeBoeuf drags his chair towards her bed and takes a small photograph from his coat]
LeBoeuf: This is a man I think you know.
[Mattie looks at the picture]
LeBoeuf: You called him Tom Chaney, I believe, though in the months I have been tracking him he has used the name, Theron Chelmsford, John Todd Andersen, and others. He dallied in Monroe, Louisiana, and Pine Bluff, Arkansas before turnin’ up at your father’s place.
Mattie Ross: And why did you not catch him in Pine Bluff, Arkansas or Monroe, Louisiana?
LeBoeuf: He is a crafty one.
Mattie Ross: I thought him slow-witted myself.
LeBoeuf: That was his act.
Mattie Ross: It was a good one.


Mattie Ross: Are you some kind of law?
[LeBoeuf draws back his coat to display a star]
LeBoeuf: That’s right. I am a Texas Ranger.
Mattie Ross: That may make you a big noise in that state; in Arkansas you should mind that your Texas trappings and title do not make you an object of fun. Why have you been ineffectually pursuing Chaney?
LeBoeuf: He shot and killed a state senator named Bibbs in Waco, Texas. Bibbs family put out a reward.
Mattie Ross: Well, how came Chaney to shoot a state senator?
LeBoeuf: My understanding is there was an argument about a dog. You know anything about where Chaney has gone?
Mattie Ross: He is in the Territory, and I hold out little hope for you earning your bounty.
LeBoeuf: Why is that?
Mattie Ross: My man will beat you to it. I have hired a deputy marshal, the toughest one they have, and he is familiar with the Lucky Ned Pepper gang that they say Chaney has tied up with.


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Total Quotes: 99



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