The Shooting (1967)




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Director Monte Hellman used his beloved "hunter as hunted" theme for his near-existential western The Shooting. Jack Nicholson and Warren Oates are starred in this bare-bones tale of an ex-bounty hunter (Oates) with a price on his head and the cocky young gun (Nicholson) who hopes to collect. The film seems to be exclusively populated by Life's Losers; but even with portents of doom throughout, the ending is still a jaw-dropping experience. Demonstrating the parsimony he'd learned while working with Roger Corman, director Hellman shot The Shooting in Utah simultaneously with another feature, Ride in the Whirlwind, for a combined budget of $150,000. Completed in 1967, The Shooting did not receive widespread release until after Jack Nicholson achieved stardom in the early 1970s.
Rating: PG13 (violence)
Genre: Action & Adventure , Classics , Drama , Western
Directed By: Monte Hellman
Written By: Adrien Joyce
In Theaters: wide


Jack Nicholson
as Billy Spear
Warren Oates
as Willett Gashade
Will Hutchins
as Coley Boyard
B.J. Merholz
as Leland Drum
Charles Eastman
as Bearded Man
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Shooting

Critic Reviews for The Shooting

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (1)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

These Monte Hellman productions aren't great "cult" westerns or even great westerns. They're great films, period, and Criterion appropriately honors their elusive, pared, and despairingly and misleadingly plain-spoken brilliance.

Full Review… | November 19, 2014
Slant Magazine

The Shooting keeps making the Western genre feel new, as though it had no conventions.

Full Review… | November 17, 2014
The Dissolve

An ambiguously motivated and almost surreal revenge film so open to interpretation it could be the '2001' of Westerns.

Full Review… | November 13, 2014
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Hellman's superb frontier cryptogram

Full Review… | July 30, 2014

What is most intriguing about "The Shooting" is the constant sense of undefined menace throughout.

Full Review… | February 1, 2010

Audience Reviews for The Shooting

warren oates is so friggin' great in this film. the near constant air of menace is mostly down to him and the soundtrack. a very young jack nicholson gets by more on his unusual looks and ability to ride a horse than anything else. and millie perkins' performance is odd to say the least. the paranoid, existential and so-called 'acid' western said to have been inspired by the kennedy assassination

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

A very unique movie, it's really basic and dreamy. It feels more like an acid trip than an actual movie, the camera never moves toward the focus of the scene but wherever it feels like going. For the very little dialogue and character development it has, Warren Oates and Jack Nicholson manage to have some very memorable characters. It's not exactly an essential part of film history or westerns, but it's interesting.

Conner Rainwater
Conner Rainwater

You want to ride with me, boy? A couple cowboys are approached by an attractive young lady that asks them to escort her to a town across the county. The cowboys reluctantly agree to aid the young lady after being offered a substantial sum of money. Shortly after beginning their journey, it becomes apparent that the woman's agenda may be suspicious. Do the cowboys need the money enough to continue riding with this woman? "Pretty ain't nothing. The only thing it does for you is pleasure your eyes." Monte Hellman, director of Two-Lane Blacktop; The Terror; Shatter; Cockfighter; Silent Night, Deadly Night III; and A Fistful of Dollars, delivers The Shooting. The storyline and characters for this picture are entertaining and well delivered. The subplots are excelling and the acting is marvelous. The cast includes Will Hutchins, Jack Nicholson, Millie Perkins, and Warren Oates. "My mind is unsatisfied with it." Being a Jack Nicholson fan I have tried to watch as many of his pictures as possible. I believe this is the third western I have seen of his and he portrays these characters quite well. I will say he is a lesser character in this picture; however, the presentation of the characters and ultimate build up is fantastic but the conclusion is a bit of a let down. I do recommend seeing this film, especially if you are a fan of the genre. "It's a woman!" Grade: B+

Kevin Robbins
Kevin Robbins

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