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The Shootist [DVD] 
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In his last and most poignant film, John Wayne plays an ailing legendary gunslinger looking for a place to die in peace, but everywh ere he goes, his violent reputation precedes him.
John Wayne's last film The Shootist could not have been more fitting; it's full of details that can't help but make one reflect upon his legacy in the movies and his life as a star. Wayne plays a career gunfighter in the autumn of his life, trying to hang up his pistols after he discovers he's dying of cancer. Boarding in the house of an attractive widow (Lauren Bacall) and her son (Ron Howard), Wayne's character opts for peace in his final days but is dogged by his reputation when a handful of killers seeks him out for a final fight. Howard is fine as a fatherless boy who needs the strong mentor the hero represents and James Stewart--who costarred with Wayne in the great Man Who Shot Liberty Valance--plays the doctor who gives the big man the bad news. Don Siegel (Invasion of the Body Snatchers) thoughtfully directs a very special and sensitive production. --Tom Keogh
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Top Customer Reviews
"The Shootist" is a film of remarkable restraint, that achieves a wonderful eloquence. Wayne and Bacall have some nice scenes together as the widow becomes fond of the dying gunman. But it is the dynamic between Wayne and Howard that drives the film, as the gunman tries to explain to the hero worshipping boy that killing men is not a heroic enterprise.Read more ›
The sepia-toned opening sequence is a brief collage of scenes from several of the Duke's past films ... for by 1976 John Wayne - the American Western incarnate - was dying of cancer: he had to be hoisted onto/off his horse, and most of his wincing was that of genuine pain. But did he ever complain? "The hell, you say ...!" Staunch right-winger he may have been (he was President of the American Legion), but he also lived his life as many a character of his many films: decent, upright and honest - one of America's greatest cultural exports. And this credo is summed-up during the film:
"I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them."
Wayne is, of course, the star of the film, but he is magnificently accompanied by grande dame Lauren Bacall (in my view still the most elegant lady in Hollywood - bar none), along with such stalwarts of the Hollywood Western as James Stewart, Richard Boone, John Carradine, Scatman Crothers, Henry Morgan, and Clintwood regular Bill McKinney. The younger generation is represented by Ritchie Cunningh ... sorry, Ron Howard.
Legendary part-time lawman and full-time gunman John Bernard Books rides into Carson City on the day of Queen Victoria's death in January 1901, and both Books and the viewer are immediately assaulted by the city's outward display of the New Century and Modern Times: the tram, 'horseless carriages,' telephones and electricity. Books already knows what Doc Hostetler (Stewart) tells him: that Books is both out of place in the changing world ... and dying of cancer.Read more ›
The film is based on the downbeat story of the same title by Glendon Swarthout who also wrote "They came to Cordura" being a study of heroism. This film is more a study of maintaining dignity in desperate circumstances. J B Books is a legendary gunfighter dying of cancer. He aims to quietly see out what time he has left in the little town of Creed in Colorado. But of course this does not happen and we head towards a showdown. There is a moving relationship between Books and a widow played by Lauren Bacall and a cameo from Jimmy Stewart as the Doctor diagnosing terminal cancer. Wayne had already had part on a lung removed due to cancer back in the early sixties. The disease was finally to kill him in 1979 shortly after his emotional appearence at the oscars. Nobody else should have been allowed to take this role. It is fitting that like Books, Wayne went out with a fitting finale to his career.
To make a film about a man dying of cancer was a brave decision by someone, but justified by the result. This is an unusually sober Western but also a very good one.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Now at last its out to buy on this UK friendly blu ray, this is what was to be the late great John Wayne's last movie outing, a great end to his movie rolls, with a big cast and... Read morePublished 2 months ago by P_A_M
A mild story told in a fine way. Waynes last movie and is a must for John Wayne fans.Published 5 months ago by Lars S.
Great! I have been a true fan of the Duke all my life.I am so glad to have his last movie.They don't make like him anymore.
I will miss him Heaps!