He's got to face a gunfight once more to live up to his legend once more. To win just one more time.
Afflicted with a terminal illness John Bernard Brooks, the last of the legendary gunfighters, quietly returns to Carson City for medical attention from his old friend Dr. Hostetler. Aware that his days are numbered, the troubled man seeks solace and peace in a boarding house run by a widow and her son.However, it is not Brooks' fate to die in peace, as he becomes embroiled in one last valiant battle.
"I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them"
John Wayne's final performance, his best ever, as dying gunfighter J.B.Books, is matched by a beautifully understated performance from Lauren Bacall as the widow who becomes his reluctant landlady for his final days. A superb supporting cast including James Stewart, Richard Boone, John Carradine and a wonderful Harry Morgan all turn in superb cameos. The only sour note is Ron Howard as Bacall's son Gillom. There's nothing inherently wrong with his performance, he's just too closely associated with the part of Richie Cunningham in Happy Days to work properly in this. This is a classic, character driven western that stands as a fitting tribute to one of the greatest movie stars ever.
John Wayne gives a poignant performance as infamous gunslinger J B Books facing death not at the end of a barrel but in the form of a cancer, an enemy that in some ways is more terrifying. He arrives in Carson City seeking a quiet death but his reputation precedes him and soon he realises that there will be an inevitable showdown with men wanting his blood for different reasons. The script is thoughtful and much time is given to the relationship Books forges with Lauren Bacall, his landlady, and her son, played by a youthful Ron Howard. The film is set in 1901 and it is interesting to see Carson City portrayed as a semi-modern town with a mixture…
I’m not sure what to make of this at first. The opener, with scenes from older John Wayne movies, is fitting and appropriate, but I get distracted for a little while after that. The Duke’s toupee and Colonel Sander’s facial hair commands my attention and the dialogue in an early scene begs for a rewrite. Then, Happy Days era Ron Howard shows up and I’m scrambling to find my footing. After a while, I find my balance and the scenes start to flow. This is different. Facing mortality in a personal and private manner and then facing it in the presence of others is compelling storytelling. It’s good that I finally settled into this movie, so I could share that space for a while.
So far, I've only seen a handful of western films that are truly brilliant. The Shootist is one of them. On almost every level, a quality shows through that is often hard to find.
This being John Wayne's last film adds another unique element. His portrayal of a dying western gunman is incredible, and perhaps it's just his ability or the fact that he was also dying of cancer that give the extra credibility to his performance. There's just something sobering about hearing the Duke painfully say, "I'm a dying man scared of the dark." The whole cast is perfect and does very well, and of course, Jimmy Stewart's presence on screen is always worth my time.
The story is…
Cancer-ridden John Wayne playing an ageing gunslinger who happens to be dying of cancer. Yes, it is The Duke's last movie and historically it is probably more interesting as a homage to the man. Still, it is a pretty good movie and kind of touching. Even though it was made in 1976, The Shootist feels like a classic western, or at least something that Hollywood used to make in 50's and in the context that makes sense.
A tribute to a bygone age. The death of the cowboy. The silencing of an American myth.
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
John Wayne has unfairly be seen as a below average actor, and while it may be true that he was typecast as either Cowboys or macho men, this doesn't mean that Wayne didn't have good acting chops with those roles, The Shootist being a great example of this. Wayne plays a gunfighter dying of cancer who wants to die a dignified way. Along the way he befriends a widow(Lauren Bacall) and her son(Ron Howard). The acting is brilliant in this film, Bacall and Wayne have great chemistry, and Ron Howard is actually good as the boy, not too annoying, and he works well with Wayne. What keeps this movie from being great is the script. Generally, I think movies drag…
"I won't be wronged. I won't be insulted. I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them."
The Duke's last role is his most understated. Ditto the film; simplistic almost to the point of being plain.