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The Shootist (1976)

PG  |   |  Drama, Western  |  20 August 1976 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 16,588 users  
Reviews: 145 user | 46 critic

A dying gunfighter spends his last days looking for a way to die with a minimum of pain and a maximum of dignity.



(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Marshall Thibido
Rick Lenz ...
Dobkins (as Richard Lenz)
Gregg Palmer ...
Burly Man
Alfred Dennis ...
Dick Winslow ...
Streetcar Driver


John Books an aging gunfighter goes to see a doctor he knows for a second opinion after another doctor told him he has a cancer which is terminal. The doctor confirms what the other said. He says Books has a month maybe two left. He takes a room in the boarding house and the son of the woman who runs it recognizes him and tells his mother who he is. She doesn't like his kind but when he tells her of his condition, she empathizes. Her son wants him to teach him how to use a gun. Books tries to tell him that killing is not something he wants to live with. Books, not wanting to go through the agony of dying from cancer, tries to find a quicker way to go. Written by rcs0411@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He's got to face a gunfight once more to live up to his legend once more - TO WIN JUST ONE MORE TIME.


Drama | Western


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

20 August 1976 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Scharfschütze  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$5,987,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


| (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Many of the actors were felt to be too old for their characters, especially Ron Howard. See more »


After Books and Gillom practice shooting at a tree, they go for a walk. Gillom pulls out a whiskey bottle. In the cut just before Books takes the bottle from Gillom's hand, the bottle position changes from Gillom's left hand to his right hand. The level of the whiskey in the bottle changes as it is handed back and forth between Gillom and Books. See more »


[Books has just had a confrontation with Mike Sweeney]
Mrs. Rogers: Do you know that man?
John Bernard Books: Not him personally; but I had some dealings with his brother, Albert.
Mrs. Rogers: What kind of dealings?
[Books looks at her]
Mrs. Rogers: Oh.
See more »


Features Red River (1948) See more »


Maple Leaf Rag
Music by Scott Joplin
[Portion whistled by Ron Howard]
See more »

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User Reviews

The Duke says Goodbye.
21 December 2004 | by (the Greater Southwest) – See all my reviews

All of the credit in the world goes to John Wayne for making this film. Here you have the biggest star in Hollywood history, making a film that symbolizes his life. You have an aging actor, whose best days were past him, portraying an aging gunfighter, whose best days were behind him. You have a character trying to fit into a world that had changed too much. Much like Wayne was trying to fit into a changing America. Lastly, you had a character, dying of cancer, trying to accomplish one last thing. Wayne, who was also dying of cancer, like the character, was trying to accomplish one last thing, a great film. To me, this film is special, because you are seeing in real life, a dying icon make his farewell. Like the character JB Books, Wayne was trying to put a brave face on his final days. He was vulnerable and uncertain about what awaited him, but he sought to accomplish one last goal. I don't care if you like Wayne or not, but how someone could not be emotionally effected by seeing this legend on screen for his last time, well, I feel sorry for you. This film is very special to me.

142 of 167 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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