I forgot how good this film really was. Absolutely superb. I’m not quite finished yet (for those who know the story, Mattie has fallen into the snake pit, so I’m near the end), but it’s better than the 1969 version in nearly every way. Jeff Bridges and John Wayne are more or less a wash, as are the actresses playing Mattie, but Matt Damon trumps whoever that country singer was playing LeBouef (spelling?).
Though the dialogue is extremely similar, the pacing is way, way better in the Coen Brothers version. The movie is tense and dramatic throughout, and I found myself wincing more than once at the drama unfolding. No boring ten minute horseback sessions here.
Come to think of it, it’s funny that I say better in “nearly every way”, since two of the three stars are a wash. It just goes to show that good direction really does make a world of difference. The movie is clearly the superior version, and should go down as one of the great all-time Westerns.