THE EMPIRE CLASSIC SCENE
True Grit, Chosen By Brad Bird
brad bird: “I like the scene in True Grit, where Mattie ross is bargaining with the guy. He’s very satisfied with himself when the negotiations start and he’s been thoroughly schooled by the time they’re over. I think the coen brothers’ version mops the floor with the John Wayne one. Hailee Steinfeld owns it.”
INT. STONEHILL’S office — DAY
Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) is bargaining with Stonehill (Dakin Matthews) over three ponies and a horse owned by her recently murdered father.
STONEHILL: I do not entertain hypotheticals; the world as it is is vexing enough. Secondly, your valuation of the horse is high by about $200. How old are you?
Mattie: If anything, my price is low. My Judy is a fine racing mare. I have seen her jump an eight-rail fence with a heavy rider. I am 14.
STONEHILL: Well, that’s all very interesting. The ponies are yours, take them. Your father’s horse was stolen by a murderous criminal. I had provided reasonable protection for the creature as per our implicit agreement. My watchman had his teeth knocked out and can take only soup. Mattie: I will take it to law. STONEHILL: You have no case.
Mattie: Lawyer J. Noble Daggett of Dardanelle, Arkansas, may think otherwise. As might a jury, petitioned by a widow and three small children.
STONEHILL: I will pay $200 to your father’s estate when I have in my hand a letter from your lawyer absolving me of all liability from the beginning of the world to date.
Mattie: I will take $200 for Judy, plus $100 for the ponies and $25 for the grey horse that Tom Chaney left. He was easily worth 40. That is $325 total.
STONEHILL: The ponies have no part in it. I will not buy them.
Mattie: Then the price for Judy is $325.
STONEHILL: I would not pay $325 for a winged Pegasus! As for the grey horse, it does not belong to you.
Mattie: The grey horse was lent to Tom Chaney by my father. Chaney only had the use of him. STONEHILL: I will pay $225 and keep the grey horse. I don’t want the ponies.
Mattie: I cannot accept that. There will be no settlement after I leave this office. It will go to law.
STONEHILL: Ah, well this is my last offer: $250. For that, I get the release previously discussed and I keep your father’s saddle. The grey horse is not yours to sell.
Mattie: The saddle is not for sale. I will keep it. Lawyer Daggett can prove ownership of the grey horse. He will come after you with a writ of replevin.
STONEHILL: A what? Mattie: A writ of replevin—
STONEHILL: Alright. Now listen very carefully as I will not bargain further. I will take the ponies back and the grey horse — which is mine — and settle for $300. Now you must take that or leave it and I do not much care which it is.
Mattie: Well, Lawyer Daggett would not wish me to consider anything under $325. But I will settle for $320 if I am given the 20 in advance. Now here is what I have to say about that saddle...