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The Shootist (1976)

 -  Drama | Western  -  20 August 1976 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 14,868 users  
Reviews: 141 user | 41 critic

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

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(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Shootist (1976)

The Shootist (1976) on IMDb 7.7/10

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
...
Bill McKinney ...
Cobb
...
Marshall Thibido
...
Beckum
...
Serepta
...
Dobkins (as Richard Lenz)
...
Moses
Gregg Palmer ...
Burly Man
Alfred Dennis ...
Barber
Dick Winslow ...
Streetcar Driver
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Storyline

John Bernard Books, a gunfighter approaching his 58th birthday, finds that he has rectal cancer and two months to live. He takes a room with Bond Rogers and her son, Gillom, to wait until death comes. Of course, his very presence starts off events in the town. The Marshal comes, prepared to die in a shootout, Gillom tries to idolize him, Bond first is disgusted and then pities him. Then, realizing that he will die in great pain, he comes up with an idea to go out with a bang. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He's got to face a gunfight once more to live up to his legend once more. To win just one more time.

Genres:

Drama | Western

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

20 August 1976 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Scharfschütze  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Gross:

$5,987,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

| (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the opening street scene, utility poles are shown, along with wires on the crossarms. City Marshal Thibido confirms that Carson City has electricity and power. The Rogers house has both. But in all subsequent street scenes, there are no utility poles or wires. See more »

Goofs

In the final shooting when the bartender shoots Mr. Books, the squib detonation wires are visible on the ground and leading up each man's leg. See more »

Quotes

Carson City Marshal Walter Thibido: To put it in a nutshell, you've plum wore us out.
John Bernard Books: Put it in a nutshell? You couldn't put it in a barrel without a bottom. You're the longest winded bastard I've ever known.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in John Wayne: On Board with the Duke (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

REAL courage!
17 May 2003 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

I've never had much use for the swaggering, tough-as-nails `heroic' John Wayne. Perhaps that style of heroism was all one needed to get by in the ‘old west', but even then, death was not an easy thing to face (I bet most gunslingers and sheriffs' boots were filled with liquid just moments before they bit the dust). Finally, here is a film that looks at what courage is really made up of: the ability to accept limitations, to accept change, to have humility, and to be able to say, `I'm afraid'. The Duke is dying of cancer, in reality and within the plot of this film. He is also a living myth in reality and within the plot of this film. That he chose to play out his swan song as a human legend instead of as a mythic one, must have taken a lot of courage. Imagine the Duke propped on a dainty red pillow upon his saddle! Imagine him showing all the physical signs of the wear and tear that illness and age have bestowed on him. Imagine him allowing us to hear the weakness of his infirm body slipping in the bathtub. Imagine his groans of agony. `Death is a very private thing', his character John Books says, but he is man enough to show us how to do it and do it with dignity, despite the fear. Just imagine The Duke admitting that he's afraid of the dark!

At the period in which this film is set, gunslingers – or `shootists' – were soon to go the way of the horse and buggy. The queen (Victoria) had just died. Electricity, modern plumbing, modern commerce, modern transportation, and creature comforts were beginning to take over (check out the electric ceiling fans and mosaic tiles in the saloon!). Forward to ‘real life'. It is 1976. One by one, the mythic legends created by dime novels and Hollywood movies are being demystified. From Billy The Kid to Buffalo Bill, to Bonnie and Clyde, audiences have been shown for over decade how legends have always been manufactured. There are some who may see this demystification as a negative thing, but when people start adoring soldiers, celebrities and gangsters as something more than human, it's time to set the record straight. That's what all the best films of the seventies did. They broke the myths but they did not break the spirit, for what they did was let US, not the supermen on the screen, become the heroes. We could be afraid, old, young, ill, or weak, and we could feel pain and humiliation. In the process of confronting our limitations we become stronger. To be a stronger human being is to become civilized. Like this film shows us, we CAN reject the gun and join civilization. This film is John Wayne's gift to us. He is enabling us to grow up, to look at the past with respect, but to face the future with responsibility. His John Books is worth more to us than all his superheroes put together. We're all gonna die, we're all afraid, and pain is very, very real. It is in the process of surrendering to this fact with dignity and humility that we in a sense become immortal. To try to live as a superman is to die a fool. Only cowards (and very dangerous people) embrace myths over reality. That dainty red pillow has made The Duke sit very tall in his saddle indeed!


48 of 65 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Who else thinks Books went way overboard with Dobkins the reporter star_in_the_zenith_79
Why did he instigate the final shoot-out? hatr
Question about a line... samwise_fan1965
help please! final shot circleofstars2
A very ominous film driver_8
I can't figure the ages of the characters. hightp
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