Thursday, Jun 2024
Director: Don Seigel
Screenwriters: Scott Hale based on a Glendon Swarthout novel
Length: 99 mins.
Released: 1976

the shootist movie posterThe Shootist is the Duke's last film. He made nearly 200 movies from 1926 until 1976. During those 50 years he developed a cowboy / gunslinger persona that he encapsulates in his farewell vehicle, The Shootist. He is a hard man but never unfair or cruel (excepting Red River). In The Shootist he twice outlines his credo; "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". J.B. Books (John Wayne) offers many such bits of advise on how to live a manly life in The Shootist. The advise is often given to Gillom Rodgers (Ron Howard). Gillom is well on his way to being a juvenile delinquent when J.B. Books arrives in 1901 Carson City. Diagnosed with cancer in Abilene, Books came to town seeking a second opinion from his old doctor friend; E.W. Hostetler (James Steward). The diagnosis is confirmed and Books begins the business of getting his things in order. Unfortunately for Books, he will not be able to die in peace as he has made many enemies over the years. And as the most famous living gunslinger in the country, there are legions looking to capitalize on the Books legend.

The Shootist is a passing of the old west movie. A way of life dies when Books dies. The cowboy and reliable horse are being replaced by surly milkmen, wimpy newspaper reporters, and automobiles. Books never concedes to the modern ways (although he takes a streetcar to his final shoot-out) and he departs with "dignity in the face of adversity" (Whitman), he is, as always, heroic.

John Wayne's performance in The Shootist is one of his finest. In a grim bit of method acting, he is a man who was dying of cancer playing a man dying of cancer. Wayne's range of emotion is expansive. He is compassionate, vulnerable, lonely, even tempered, and above all, brutally honest.

The Shootist is a Must See for John Wayne fans as well as Western enthusiasts. When Books dies it is a sad end to a chapter of American history.


  • John Wayne .... John Bernard Books
  • Lauren Bacall .... Bond Rogers
  • Ron Howard .... Gillom Rogers
  • James Stewart .... Doctor E.W. Hostetler
  • Richard Boone .... Mike Sweeney
  • Hugh O'Brian .... Jack Pulford, Pharoh Dealer at Metropole Saloon
  • Bill McKinney .... Jay Cobb
  • Harry Morgan .... Carson City Marshal Walter Thibido
  • John Carradine .... Hezekiah Beckhum, Undertaker
  • Sheree North .... Serepta
  • Rick Lenz .... Dan Dobkins, Reporter Morning Appeal
  • Scatman Crothers ....Moses Brown
  • Gregg Palmer .... Burly Man
  • Alfred Dennis .... Dearden the Barber
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