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The Shootist (1976)

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

Director:

Don Siegel

Writers:

Glendon Swarthout (novel), Miles Hood Swarthout (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
4,893 ( 1,220)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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
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Storyline

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

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 | Romance | Western

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 August 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Shootist See more »

Filming Locations:

Carson City, Nevada, USA See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$13,406,138, 31 December 1976
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The engraved Colt Single Action Army revolvers used by J.B. Books were in reality a pair of replicas made in the 1950s. See more »

Goofs

When Books is riding the trolley for the last time and talking with a young lady, a modern garage door is visible behind him. This type of garage door was not invented for another 25 years. See more »

Quotes

John Bernard Books: Where's Gillom?
Bond Rogers: In the woodshed.
John Bernard Books: That's appropriate.
Bond Rogers: Why?
John Bernard Books: You stay outta this.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Howard Stern on Demand: Robert Duvall (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A Sad and Thoughtful Farewell
20 March 2002 | by highwaterSee all my reviews

It is virtually impossible to watch The Shootist, the story of an aging gunfighter dying of cancer, without being frequently reminded that it was John Wayne's last movie and that he was dying of cancer himself. This gives several scenes a real lump-in-the-throat quality, such as when Wayne tells Lauren Bacall "I'm a dying man afraid of the dark."

But even when viewed without that knowledge, The Shootist is a thoughtful, sad and very well acted film. Although I've seen only a handful of Wayne's 200-plus movies, it's hard for me to believe that he ever turned in a better performance than he did here. His portrayal of a terminally ill man wanting to end his life on his own terms is moving and totally convincing. The supporting cast is also outstanding, and Wayne has several great scenes with actors like Jimmy Stewart, Lauren Bacall, Ron Howard and even Scatman Crothers. I found Harry Morgan, whom I usually like, to be a bit cartoonish as the marshall who was anxious to see Wayne's character die as quickly as possible, but that's a minor quibble.

Since the movie takes place in 1901, there are naturally references to the end of the old west and the coming of a new age, and how the time of gunfighters like Wayne's character have come to an end. Again, it is difficult to view these scenes without thinking of the twilight of Wayne's career and the declining popularity of western films, just as you can't help but connect the plight of his character in this film with his own death from cancer a few years later.

It's hard to imagine that any other significant actor ever made a more appropriate and moving farewell film. You don't need to be a fan of westerns, or even a fan of John Wayne, to appreciate The Shootist.


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