Wednesday, March 04, 2009

March 4, 2009
Got a question on a line from the movie True Grit:

In the movie True Grit, after the shootout with Lucky Ned Pepper at the cabin and our group was back at the outpost with the Indian scouts, John Wayne's character turned to Glen Campbell's character and said "You backed up?". What does this mean? I hope you have an answer, it's driving me crazy.
—Mike Owens

I didn't know the answer so I asked screenwriter Jeb Rosebrook and a couple other movie guys but they didn't know either, so I sent it to Marshall Trimble:

I had to order a dvd of the film from Amazon to find the answer for you as none of my western movie experts could remember the line but here's what it's all about. Right after the shootout Lucky Ned Pepper gets away because La Boeuf (Glen Campbell opens fire too soon). Rooster tells him they will take the bodies of the slain men to the trading post and leave their bodies to be buried. La Beouf protests saying they're letting Lucky Ned get away. Rooster gets very irritated and tells him to "Back off," and proceeds to tell him exactly where Pepper is heading. Then Rooster says to La Beouf, "Are you backed off?" This is his follow up remark to "Back off," and what Rooster means is, "Do you savvy what I'm trying to tell you." As you know, from their first meeting, Rooster is annoyed with the young upstart Texas Ranger and won't put up with him questioning his actions. By the way, I hadn't seen True Grit in a while and even though I've seen it several times, I always enjoy it. Now I have a copy of my own.

—Marshall Trimble

PS. If you'll send me your town/state of residence I'll forward this on to the editors of True West. They require that info before they'll publish a Q/A.

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