169 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?


According to Don Siegel in his autobiography, Lauren Bacall complained and was very upset because John Wayne often spat in front of her on the set. See more »


When Books shoots Cobb in the final scene in the bar, Cobb's blood pack is clearly visible beneath his shirt. See more »


Dr. E.W. Hostetler: Books, every few days I have to tell a man or a woman something I don't want to. I've been practicing medicine for 29 years, and I still don't know how to do it well.
John Bernard Books: Why don't you just say it flat out?
Dr. E.W. Hostetler: All right. You have a cancer - advanced. Is that what that fella up in Creed told you?
John Bernard Books: Yeah.
Dr. E.W. Hostetler: And you didn't believe him.
John Bernard Books: No.
Dr. E.W. Hostetler: Do you believe me?
John Bernard Books: Can't you cut it out, Doc?
Dr. E.W. Hostetler: I'd have to gut you like a fish.
John Bernard Books: Well, what *can* you do?
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 »


Referenced in 24x36: A Movie About Movie Posters (2016) See more »


Willow, Tit Willow
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Lyrics by W.S. Gilbert
Performed by John Wayne & Lauren Bacall
See more »

User Reviews

Elegiac in many ways
16 August 2001 | by Joe GurmanSee all my reviews

There's no point in repeating what other viewers have mentioned about the poignancy of Wayne's own losing battle with cancer while making this film. It's clear from the casting that, even before the Duke's condition was known, the producers and director were casting icons of film (Jimmy Stewart) and TV (Richard Boone, Paladin in "Have Gun, Will Travel" and Hugh O'Brian, the lead in "Wyatt Earp") westerns, as well as just fine, older actors (Lauren Bacall [not so old, really, when this was made], John Carradine, Scatman Crothers, Harry Morgan).

More than anything else, this film is about respect: the flawed code of honor that has led Books to kill so many men over honor, respect for the old, respect for the wishes of the dying. An unusual focus for an American film, to say the least.

Finally, I have to say a word for Richard Boone's performance: it's amazing. In a few words and bizarre gestures, he creates a character who has lived for revenge for years, and been terribly twisted by it, while remaining of this world enough to advance to motor cars --- and be hilarious at the same time! This, and his voicing of Smaug in the animated "Hobbit," are brilliant pieces of character acting late in his life.

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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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