170 user 62 critic

The Shootist (1976)

3:17 | Trailer
A dying gunfighter spends his last days looking for a way to die with a minimum of pain and a maximum of dignity.


Don Siegel


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





Cast overview, first billed only:
John Wayne ... J.B. Books
Lauren Bacall ... Bond Rogers
Ron Howard ... Gillom Rogers
James Stewart ... Dr. Hostetler
Richard Boone ... Sweeney
Hugh O'Brian ... Pulford
Bill McKinney ... Cobb
Harry Morgan ... Marshall Thibido
John Carradine ... Beckum
Sheree North ... Serepta
Rick Lenz ... Dobkins (as Richard Lenz)
Scatman Crothers ... Moses
Gregg Palmer ... Burly Man
Alfred Dennis ... Barber
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 | Romance | Western


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


When giving the shooting lesson, Books tells Gillom to leave the hammer down on an empty chamber for safety. When asked about having to face someone, he says that you, "load six if your insides tell you to." He is later shown loading a sixth bullet in each pistol. See more »


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 »


John Bernard Books: [Clearly depressed when Hostetler tells him his cancer is fatal] You told me I was strong as an ox!
Dr. E.W. Hostetler: Well, even an ox dies.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening "Blue Mountain" Paramount logo which was used by the studio from 1975 thru 1987 is presented in black and white!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1Yek4oF2SA See more »


Features El Dorado (1966) See more »


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

User Reviews

'The Duke's' last movie is a fantastic and worthy one.
6 May 2005 | by Boba_Fett1138See all my reviews

It was strange to watch this movie knowing that this was John Wayne's last. Even stranger was it because the character he plays is dying of cancer just like John Wayne himself was at the moment. It gave the movie a deeper meaning and made some of the scene's more emotional.

The story is told in a absolutely fantastic way. The story is slow but the mixture of good old western style and drama makes the movie always interesting to watch. The movie had so many deeper meanings. The movie is set in 1901, the time when the time of the good old west was almost at its end. Only thing that stands in between of the good old west and modern times are characters such as John Bernard Books (John Wayne), an old gunslinger from the good old days. His character is coping with his inevitable coming death but also coping with the fact that the good old days of gunfights at the O.K. Corral and saloons are over for good. He basically is the only remaining person still alive from the good old days with a reputation, so when he dies the old west dies with him. In a way this also shows some parallels with Wayne's death, when he died a piece of the genre Western died with him as well.

Beside 'The Duke' the movie also has some fine other great actors such as: Lauren Bacall, James Stewart (also his last Western as an actor, he however later still provided one of the voices for his final movie "An American Tail: Fievel Goes West".), Scatman Crothers and John Carradine. Still it was kind of an odd sight to see John Wayne and Ron Howard acting in scene's together. I don't know for some reason it just felt unreal.

The movie also has a fine and a bit of underrated musical score from composer Elmer Bernstein. The movie itself is also kind of underrated, not in terms of the rating it gets but in terms of how well known it is to the general public. This is really a movie that deserves to be seen by more, if only also because of the fact that its Wayne's last role before his death in 1979. Don Siegel movie's are often underrated for some reason, he was a great director that made some real classics but yet he never won any big awards and he is probably only known to the general public for making "Dirty Harry".

Don't watch this movie expecting spectacular gunfight and other Western clichés. Yes there is some shooting in this movie but really, this movie is more of a drama than a Western. Still fans of the Western genre will also not be disappointed because of the atmosphere and also mainly just simply because of Wayne's character.

An extremely worthy last movie for 'movie-legend' John Wayne.



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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

21 July 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Shootist See more »

Filming Locations:

Carson City, Nevada, USA See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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