John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn are both among the most towering screen icons in the history of Hollywood. Hepburn, who topped the American Film Institute’s ranking of the 50 greatest female stars, is a serious claimant to the throne of greatest actress ever, someone without whom the story of American cinema from the 1930s all through to the 1970s simply can’t be told. The Duke, meanwhile, is so culturally ubiquitous as to be synonymous with the Wild West. And yet, despite having starred in dozens of films in their decades-long careers, they never shared the screen until “Rooster Cogburn” brought them together for the first time in 1975.
A sequel to the 1969 Wayne-starring Western “True Grit” — which modern film buffs might recognize as the one that inspired the Coens’ 2010 remake with Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld — “Rooster Cogburn” follows the titular character, a U.S. Marshal past his prime, as he teams up with Eula Goodnight, the spinster daughter of a preacher, to retrieve a shipment of nitroglycerin that was stolen from the U.S. government. A nostalgic throwback to its stars’ and the genre’s heydays, “Rooster Cogburn” drips with reverence for the very idea of the Western, with all its mythical allure and hallowed American landscapes. But are the landscapes in it real ones? Where was this New Hollywood gem actually shot? Read on to find out.