As movie remakes go, Joel and Ethan Coen's "True Grit" wasn't as awful as I swore it would be. But, I must inform the lady I overheard when I took in my viewing, Jeff Bridges is no John Wayne.

"I thought Jeff Bridges did a nice job," she told her companion as the credits rolled. "I didn't miss John Wayne at all."

She couldn't have been a Duke Wayne fan, because, rest assured (and I feel on safe ground speaking for all of us) we missed him a lot as we sat through the remake of "True Grit."

Bridges is indeed a fine actor who did an excellent job portraying the crusty, curmudgeonly Rooster Cogburn. But for John Wayne fans, there is only one Rooster Cogburn, and that's the one the Duke himself played. The same is true for the Ringo Kid, Sgt. John Stryker, Hondo Lane, Ethan Edwards, Tom Doniphon and John Bernard Books.

All those are characters Wayne played in films that are considered classics. They are, in order, "Stagecoach," "The Sands of Iwo Jima," "Hondo," "The Searchers," "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," and Wayne's last film "The Shootist."

It's that resume of appearing in classic films that sets Wayne apart from Bridges. I've broken it down this way: Bridges is a fine actor who did some fine work in the remake of "True Grit." Wayne is a legend.

See the difference? Fine actor who did fine work vs. legend? I don't think the woman in the theater grasped that distinction.

There are other reasons why the original "True Grit" is superior to the remake. In the 2010 version, an actor named Dakin Matthews plays the character of Col. Stonehill. In the 1969 version, the superb character actor Strother Martin played the role.

Score one for the original. When it came to character acting, Martin had few, if any, superiors. It's Martin's voice that made "What we got here is failure to communicate" (from the 1967 film "Cool Hand Luke," which I'm sure is on some producer's remake list somewhere) the classic line that it is.

Dennis Hopper, another film legend, played the character of Moon in the original "True Grit." In the remake, the Coen brothers chose some guy named Domhnall Gleeson, according to the Web site The Web site doesn't list the actor who played lawyer J. Noble Daggett in the remake, but in the 1969 version producers were clever enough to bring in the diminutive, soft-spoken John Fieldler -- another top-notch character actor -- for the job.

Score another one for the original.

Robert Duvall is another actor who's achieved legendary status. He played Ned Pepper in the original. In the remake the job went to some guy named Barry Pepper.

Who? I'd say that's game, set and match for the original version of "True Grit." The remake is, in many ways, a fine film. The Coen brothers don't have many misses in their film resume.

Heck, the truth is the Coen brothers don't have any misses. But their remake definitely comes up short when compared with the original. That's because, by venturing into the Western genre, the Coen brothers ventured into an area they know little to nothing about. How clueless are they?

In an interview with Newsweek magazine film critic David Ansen, Joel Coen said, "I didn't grow up as a John Wayne, John Ford fan. But there are certain John Ford Westerns I really like. I like 'Rio Bravo,' and I like 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.'"

Somebody please tell Joel Coen that "Rio Bravo" is a Howard Hawks film.

Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.