[Originally published in Movietone News 45, November 1975]
Rooster Cogburn is a sitting duck for both moviemakers and movie reviewers. Given the prospect of a picture costarring John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn, all Hal Wallis, Stuart Millar & co. had to do was to turn on the cameras and have them pointed in the generally right direction; and all the reviewers have to do is to note that they’ve done it. If you love Wayne and/or Hepburn you certainly won’t cease to love either as a result of this film. If you don’t love them you probably won’t start because of this film. It’s rather sad to see two axioms of the cinema turned into tautologies. For Rooster Cogburn does tend to sit and point and say Aren’t they wonderful?; and even as we admit They are! They are!, we can still fervently wish they’d been given something beautiful to do—which they do beautifully—instead of simply stroked and petted like a couple of senile Beautiful People whose bedtime is drawing nigh while the party threatens to drag on without them.