We just got back from watching the remake of “True Grit,” yesterday, the popular western movie that starred Brother John Wayne in the 1969 original. We were curious as to whether there would be any Masonic references in this year’s version of the movie seeing that the book, written in 1968, was chock full of them (see below). We caught two:
When one of the main characters, Mattie Ross (played brilliantly in the remake by actress, Hailee Steinfeld), gives instruction to her man-servant to return the body of her slain father back to their hometown, she instructs him that he should be “buried with his Mason’s apron on.” Later, upon viewing the worldly possessions of her father, a square and compasses pendant is shown among the items.
These seem to be the only two Masonic references that made it from author Charles Portis’ 1968 book, True Grit, though there are a number of passages in the book that are Masonic in nature (all spoken by Mattie Ross):
“Some people will take it wrong and criticize me for not going to my father’s funeral. My answer is this: I had my father’s business to attend to. He was buried in his Mason’s apron by the Danville lodge.”
“He was a Cumberland Presbyterian and a Mason and he fought with determination at the battle of Elkhorn Tavern….”
“The Danville lodge had charge of the graveside service.”
“McAlester is also the international headquarters of the Order of the Rainbow for Girls.” (Note: This is true. McAlester, Oklahoma has been the headquarters since 1951, though the Order was not created until 1922 which was after the supposed timeframe of the movie).
“My thought was: The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner.”
It is unknown whether author Charles Portis is a Freemason, though one of his other books, Masters of Atlantis, has as a storyline, “Gnomonism, a freemason-like society devoted to preserving the secret wisdom of the lost ancient city of Atlantis,” according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture’s biography of the author (link).