The Shootist


The Shootist

Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 20


Audience Score

User Ratings: 9,592
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Movie Info

About ten minutes into The Shootist, Doctor Hostetler (James Stewart) tells aging Western gunfighter John Bernard Books (John Wayne), "You have a cancer." Knowing that his death will be painful and lingering, Books is determined to be shot in the line of "duty." In his remaining two months, Books settles scores with old enemies, including gambler Pulford (Hugh O'Brian) and Marshall Thibido (Harry Morgan) and reaches out to new friends, including a feisty widow (Lauren Bacall) and her hero-worshipping son (Ron Howard). Throughout the film, Books' imminent demise is compared with the decline of the West, as represented by the automobiles and streetcars that have begun to blight the main street of Books' hometown. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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John Wayne
as John Bernard Books
Lauren Bacall
as Bond Rogers
Ron Howard
as Gillom Rogers
James Stewart
as Dr. E.W. Hostetler
Hugh O'Brian
as Pulford
Harry Morgan
as Marshall Thibido
Sheree North
as Serepta
Rick Lenz
as Dobkins
Gregg Palmer
as Burly Man
Dick Winslow
as Streetcar Driver
Melody Thomas Scott
as Girl on Streetcar
Kathleen O'Malley
as School Teacher
Johnny Crawford
as Books' victim in flashback
Christopher George
as Books' victim in flashback
Leo Gordon
as Books' victim in flashback
Ricky Nelson
as Books' fellow lawman in flashback
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Critic Reviews for The Shootist

All Critics (20) | Top Critics (4)

Audience Reviews for The Shootist

  • Mar 24, 2013
    The Shootist is a terrific Western starring the legendary John Wayne. The film was to be The Duke's final film role. The plot is about a hired that is dying of a terminal illness and looks in going out in fashion. Wayne is wonderful in his performance and this is a well executed Western and a classic that is a must see for genre fans. The film boasts a good cast alongside John Wayne, and each actor gives the film something unique. This film brings an end to an era of great Westerns. This is brilliantly directed and acted. Despite its imperfections, The Shootist is a fun and entertaining picture and like I said, John Wayne is great here, and he gives his all in a stellar performance that simply is a mesmerizing final Swan Song to his great career. Don Siegel direction is wonderful and he was able to capture something special with this film. The film at times could have been better; luckily Wayne's performance holds the hold thing together. Although not on par with the far superior Spaghetti Westerns, The Shootist is still worth watching for genre fans. The film bring a comedic tone at times that you can enjoy, but also there is a dramatic overtone as John Wayne on-screen says goodbye to the genre, he made famous. This is a fine, final picture that is a must see for John Wayne fans or any genre fans looking for a standout picture that is among the best swan songs for an actor. The film lives on as a testament to John Wayne's talents and every ounce of the acting ability that Wayne possesses is displayed beautifully in a wonderful near flawless Western.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Sep 07, 2011
    Not John Wayne's most poigant or even most memorable film, but as a final film in a very successful career, it's a great film to go out on.
    Dillon L Super Reviewer
  • Oct 06, 2010
    Don Siegel's elegant, poignant, compelling western classic which has the historic distinction of being the late great John Wayne's final motion picture. The time is 1901 which was the end of an era known as "The Wild West," the aging, legendary gunfighter John Bernard Books, played by Wayne in a towering performance of great gravitas and conviction, quietly returns to Carson City for medical advice from his old friend Dr. Hostetler, wonderfully played by the late great James Stewart, who confirms that he has terminal cancer. Now aware that his days are numbered Brooks seeks solace and peace in the boarding house run by a widow named Bond Roges, played magnificently by Lauren Becall, with her young son Gillom, played impressively by Ron Howard. All Books wants is to die a dignified death in accordance to his own personal code of honor, but he becomes a victim of his own reputation and violent past. He then decides to go out in one last valiant battle against the city's notorious gunmen. This is a real showcase for Wayne who truly delivers one of the finest turns of his long distinguished career. His scenes of unspoken love with Lauren Becall are so heart-warming and beautifully acted by these two screen lcons, who have a such a genuine chemistry. Astute direction by Siegel, with exception supporting performances by Richard Boone, Hugh O' Brian, Bill McKinney, Harry Morgan, John Carradine, Sheree North, Rich Lenz, and Scatman Crothers. Striking cinematography by Bruce Surtees, with a fine score by Elmer Bernstein, and brilliant Academy Award nominated art direction by Robert F. Boyle & Arthur Jeph Parker. A remarkably moving film and a fitting end to Wayne's amazing career. Highly Recommended.
    Danny R Super Reviewer
  • Dec 13, 2009
    The Shootist represents John Wayne's swan song, the final film where the legend that is John Wayne appeared on the screen. The film follows the final days of J.B. Books (Wayne). Dying of cancer, he visits an old doctor friend (Jimmy Stewart) who informs the old gunslinger that he doesn't have much time left. Books takes up lodgings with a Mrs. Rogers (Lauren Bacall) and her son Gillom (Ron Howard). When the area finds out that Books is in town and dying it seems that everyone wants a piece of him, coming out of the woodwork with money making schemes as this shootist prepares for one final battle. Directed by Don Siegel (Dirty Harry) The Shootist is Wayne's best acting since The Searchers almost twenty years earlier. Instead of the invincible cowboy he plays a man at the end, preparing for what may lay beyond this world. The legend is still there, but he's a little humbler. Just looking at the rest of the cast, you know the films going to be good, though it does suffer from an almost Made For TV feel. John Wayne survived almost three years beyond the release of The Shootist. He never made another film. Having this film as a bookend to a career that was simply legendary was a great capstone. He was THE premiere MAN for over thirty years and brought his persona to his films in a way that has never been repeated except by Clint Eastwood. John Wayne was a man and a character that grew beyond the confines of the silver screen and into American culture.
    Chris G Super Reviewer

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