Cabot Barden and John T. Wayne

Local author Cabot Barden (left) and John T. Wayne, grandson of the famous late actor John Wayne. 

TALLADEGA -- The Historic Ritz Theatre in Talladega will host a special screening of the 1969 Academy Award-winning western “True Grit,” with an appearance by a very special guest, Friday, July 20, starting at 7 p.m.

The film stars John Wayne. According to a press release from Ritz Executive Director George Culver, “The film will be introduced by ‘The Duke’s’ grandson, John T. Wayne. John T. is doing a few other area appearances on a book tour.”

The elder Wayne won his only best actor Oscar as well as a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the drunken, one-eyed Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit,” in which he performed alongside Kim Darby, Glenn Campbell, Robert Duvall and Dennis Hopper.

The film was directed by Henry Hathaway and is based on the novel by Charles Portis. A new version of the film starring Jeff Bridges was released in 2010.

General admission tickets for the show are $3 for individuals and $10 for families. Popcorn will be a dollar.

When the screening was planned, it was thought the theatre’s new seats would be installed and renovations would be complete, Culver said.

Unfortunately, things didn’t work out quite that way. Due to a two-week delay in arrival of the seats, things are running a little bit behind, but the show will go on.

“Seats will be in, the interior paint job is done, but the carpet and aisle runway lights will likely not be installed yet,” Culver said. “A tad unfinished, but still doable, and lots of folks will get a sense of what their new Ritz is going to look like.”

Before the screening, John T. Wayne will be just down the street at LMo & Co. from 4 to 6 p.m. signing books and visiting with fans.

The younger Wayne grew up in the Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks and is known as the author of “The Gaslight Boys,” a series of books chronicling the lives of the orphans created by the Civil War who grew up to become the first cowboys. There are five books in the series, including “Captain Grimes Unreconstructed,” “Ol’ Slant Face,” “Showdown at Scatter Creek,” “Blood Once Spilled” and “The Treasure Del Diablo.”

Upcoming titles in the series include “Catfish John (The Anatomy of a Bottom Dweller),” “Captain Grimes Part 2” and “Peace in the Valley.”

Wayne and local author Cabot Barden will be at the Comer Museum & Arts Center on North Broadway in Sylacauga on Thursday, July 19, from 2 to 5 p.m., where Wayne is scheduled to receive a key to the city. They will also visit a video studio in Sylacauga, where they will film the first scene of a short film they will be completing in Calera on Saturday, July 21.

Barden and Wayne will be signing books at the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum in Calera, where they will also be participating in “Wild West Day,” according to a press release. The two authors will be portraying U.S. Marshals foiling a train robbery.

Barden’s most recent book, “Field of Corruption,” is set in Talladega County in 1910. The villain, a former sheriff, escapes from prison in Montgomery and returns to Talladega, where he hopes to reassemble the “Flukey Luke” gang and begin rebuilding the bootlegging, prostitution and gambling operations they ran before going to prison. Unfortunately, the house he chooses to hide out in is haunted by Indian ghosts.

Meanwhile, U.S. Marshals John T. Wayne and Blaine and Shelley Newcomb are on his trail, and Bat Masterson, who also worked as a U.S. marshal for a time, puts in an appearance as well.