The Shootist (1976) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Shootist (1976)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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, Rovimore
Rating: PG
Genre: Documentary, Western, Drama, Action & Adventure
Directed By:
Written By: Scott Hale, Miles Hood Swarthout
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jul 24, 2001
Paramount Home Video


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 fla...
Christopher George
as Books' victim in fla...
Leo Gordon
as Books' victim in fla...
Ricky Nelson
as Books' fellow lawman...
Melody Thomas
as Girl on Streetcar
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Shootist

Critic Reviews for The Shootist

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (4)

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 21, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

John Wayne's very last film, an elegy for a dying cowboy, expresses the essence of his screen image, while borrowing elements from his own life.

Full Review… | January 13, 2007

That rare film where a star and an audience get to say goodbye to each other.

January 19, 2006
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Audience Reviews for The Shootist

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 roy

Super Reviewer

A touching film, heartfelt, as the Duke makes his final bow and he's fully aware that with him goes an era, the good and the bad. Here to say farewell are Stewart and Bacall, the old guard, and Ron Howard, the future. And the Duke makes his final bow.

Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

There is something to be said about an old legend dying of cancer playing an old legend dying of cancer.

Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

The Shootist Quotes

– Submitted by Sarfaraz A (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Sarfaraz A (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Sarfaraz A (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Sarfaraz A (3 years ago)

Discussion Forum

Discuss The Shootist on our Movie forum!