Released in the same year as The Wild Bunch and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Henry Hathaway’s western was defiantly old-fashioned in comparison
The year 1969 was a true inflection point for the American western, a once-dominant genre that had become a casualty of the culture, particularly when Vietnam had rendered the moral clarity of white hats and black hats obsolete. A handful of westerns were released by major studios that year, including forgettable or regrettable star vehicles for Burt Reynolds (Sam Whiskey) and Clint Eastwood (Paint Your Wagon), who were trying to revitalize the genre with a touch of whimsy. But 50 years later, three very different films have endured: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Wild Bunch and True Grit. Together, they represented the past, present and future of the western.