Rooster Cogburn Movie Poster

Trivia for Rooster Cogburn

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  • Richard Fleischer was originally offered the director's job by the studio and accepted it. John Wayne, however, had director approval and was still irked at Fleischer for having turned down North to Alaska (1960) 15 years previously, and vetoed Fleischer as director. It was eventually given to Stuart Millar.
  • The last movie produced by Hal B. Wallis.
  • During location filming, the crew wore printed t-shirts that read "We love Brother John" on the front and "...and Sister Kate, too!" on the back. John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn were, reportedly, very much amused by this.
  • Director Stuart Millar insisted on so many takes that eventually John Wayne snapped, "God damn it Stuart, there's only so many times we can say these awful lines before they stop making any sense at all."
  • Richard Jordan later admitted he decided to overplay his part because he thought the movie was going to flop, and if anybody paid to see it then it would only be for the two stars. He also said he felt that Katharine Hepburn was about to die at any minute - ironically, she outlived him by a decade.
  • Jon Lormer, who plays Katharine Hepburn's father, was only one year older than her.
  • During filming John Wayne was injured teaching his eight-year-old daughter to play golf, but fortunately his eye patch concealed the mark. He had been working on one lung for the past ten years and had great difficulty breathing due to the high altitude, often needing to breathe through an oxygen mask.
  • Eula mentions a poet, Ella Sturgis Hooper. The real name is Ellen Sturgis Hooper (1812 - 1848). She was member of the Transcendental Club and regarded as one of the most gifted poets among the Transcendentalists of New England.
  • There was some surprise when Katharine Hepburn accepted the role of Eula Goodnight, since more than twenty years earlier she had turned down Geraldine Page's role in Hondo (1953) because she would not work with John Wayne at the height of the blacklist.
  • Although John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn refer to Strother Martin as "Old Man", he was in fact twelve years younger than them.
  • John Wayne found making the film to be very difficult, particularly since he had just finished a grueling shoot on Brannigan (1975) and recovered from pneumonia.
  • "Martin Julien" allegedly covers the writing talents of producer Hal B. Wallis, his wife Martha Hyer, and some friends.
  • Katharine Hepburn was bemused by co-star John Wayne's tendency to argue with everybody, especially the director, during filming. At the party to celebrate the last day of filming she told him, "I'm glad I didn't know you when you had two lungs, you must have been a real bastard. Losing a hip has mellowed me, but you!"
  • The official still photographer for this movie was Susie Tracy, daughter of Katharine Hepburn's longtime lover Spencer Tracy.
  • The film received terrible reviews on release. Many critics felt that it was too obviously derived from The African Queen (1951), and that both John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn were too old for their parts.
  • Katharine Hepburn appeared in only one other western, The Sea of Grass (1947).
  • Neville Brand was considered for a major role.
  • There had been plans for a third film featuring the character Rooster Cogburn, to be entitled "Someday", but it was canceled when this movie proved to be only a moderate hit at the box office. In addition Paramount Pictures cited John Wayne's age as too old to carry a successful movie, and waning audience interest in westerns.
  • The conversation that Rooster has with Wolf, about the small gun he loans him, is taken directly from an unused line of dialogue in the novel "True Grit".
  • Although this film was promoted as "Rooster Cogburn (...and the Lady)", the opening credits of the film give the title as simply "Rooster Cogburn".
  • John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn were born a mere two weeks apart (Hepburn being the elder), and their careers paralleled each other, yet this film marked the only time the Hollywood veterans appeared together onscreen.
  • Strother Martin, who portrays Shanghai McCoy in this film, also appeared in True Grit (1969), playing Col. Stonehill, the sarcastic horse trader who is bested in a deal by Mattie Ross.
  • During filming John Wayne was greatly dismayed when the Republicans performed very badly in the mid-term elections in November 1974.
  • John Wayne was greatly impressed by Katharine Hepburn's wilful nature. He recalled, "You should have seen her up on those mountain locations. She can't ride a hobby horse. But she climbed right up on those horses and gave 'em hell. We had a great girl stunt rider for her, but Kate said, 'She doesn't sit as straight in the saddle as I do.'"
  • John Wayne originally wanted Ingrid Bergman as his co-star. He then suggested the character should be made younger and Mary Tyler Moore should be cast, saying he feared audiences would not want to see a movie where both stars were elderly.
  • Towards the end of filming John Wayne fell ill with viral pneumonia. He declined to promote the movie, claiming he was still ill.
  • Katharine Hepburn was generally felt to be too old for her character.
  • John Wayne did not regard Stuart Millar as being capable of directing the film.
  • If John Wayne had been too ill to play Rooster Cogburn in this film, the part was going to be offered to Marlon Brando. Other choices were Charles Bronson, Richard Burton, Kirk Douglas, Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Charlton Heston, Rock Hudson, Burt Lancaster, Steve McQueen, Robert Mitchum, Paul Newman, Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn and George C. Scott.
  • Hal B. Wallis later conceded in a letter to John Wayne that the choice of Stuart Millar as director had been a mistake. Millar never directed another theatrical film.
  • John Wayne had been seriously ill at the beginning of 1974 when he caught pneumonia in London after appearing on Parkinson (1971) and The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour (1969). He began coughing so hard that he damaged a valve in his heart, although this would not be diagnosed until 1978.
  • Bette Davis, Maureen O'Hara, Glenda Jackson, Vanessa Redgrave, Maggie Smith and Loretta Young were considered for Miss Eula Goodnight.
  • Written by actress Martha Hyer who received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Vincente Minnelli's Some Came Running (1958). At the time, she was the wife of producer Hal B. Wallis and wrote the screenplay under the pseudonym Martin Julien.
  • The 25th highest grossing film of 1975.
  • Katharine Hepburn's part is very similar to one of her most famous characterizations - Rose Sayer in John Huston's The African Queen (1951).
  • Katharine Hepburn was actually very admiring of John Wayne despite opposing political beliefs. She later said she saw a lot of Spencer Tracy's integrity in The Duke and was quite keen to find a project on which they could work together.
  • H.W. Gim, who played the original Chen Lee, Rooster's Chinese companion, had died in the intervening years since the original film so the role was taken over by Tommy Lee, who died the year after this film was released.
  • John Wayne changed his dialogues so often that director Millar argued many time with him because of this. On the contrary of Katie Hepburn who was unable to improvise.
  • John Wayne's first and only role he reprised. In spite of having over 140 leading roles, 'Rooster Cogburn' is the only character he played in more than one film.
  • Rooster Cogburn has come to be regarded as a missed opportunity at best, a reheated dinner at worst.
  • A magazine piece Katherine Hepburn wrote about Wayne is little short of a mash note: "From head to toe he is all of a piece. Big head. Wide blue eyes. Sandy hair. Rugged skin--lined by living and fun and character. Not by just rotting away. A nose not too big, not too small. Good teeth. A face alive with humor. Good humor, I should say, and a sharp wit. Dangerous when roused. His shoulders are broad--very. His chest massive--very. When I leaned against him (which I did as often as possible, I must confess--I am reduced to such innocent pleasures) thrilling. It was like leaning against a great tree."
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