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The Shootist


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Product Details

  • Actors: John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Peter Frankovich, Hugh O'Brian, William Self
  • Directors: Don Siegel
  • Writers: Miles Hood Swarthout, Glendon Swarthout, Scott Hale
  • Producers: William Self, M.J. Frankovich
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: July 24, 2001
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (257 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JSGL
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,643 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Shootist" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Exclusive cast and crew interviews with Hugh O'Brian, writer Miles Swarthout and producer Bill Self

Editorial Reviews

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 feisty widow Lauren Bacall and her hero-worshipping son Ron Howard). In the end, is shot to death, but in so doing he is able to dissuade another from following his blood-stained example. Throughout the film, Book's 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 Wayne's home town. It is unknown if John Wayne was aware that he was dying of cancer when he agreed to film The Shootist; whatever the case, the film is a powerful valedictory to a remarkable man and a fabulous career.

Customer Reviews

The cast is filled with strong character actors, most of them playing varying degrees of baddies.
Steven Hellerstedt
This movie has an outstanding cast - John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Jimmy Stewart, Harry Morgan, Ron Howard, Richard Boone and Hugh O'Brien (and others).
DVD watcher
It works even if you don't know that Wayne was dying of cancer in real life at the time the movie was made.
alex bushman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

120 of 125 people found the following review helpful By MilesAndTrane on March 11, 2004
Format: DVD
As movie genres come and go, the American Western was gasping for its last breath when John Wayne starred in "The Shootist" in 1976. This story about a dying gunfighter counting down his last days in the New World is loaded with an extremely heavy dose of symbolism. This is a quiet western, completely emphasizing dialogue over action. Directed by Don Siegel, a master of the western, the overall mood laments the passing of the Old West and its ideology. I agree with other comments that this film has a slightly made-for-TV quality about it, but it's clear this is supposed to be a delicate look at the death of a revered cowboy, and not a wide-open prairie epic. Like the character himself, John Wayne was dying, and provided for us what would be his final performance. The last words Wayne ever said onscreen at the end of this film are the same words I'd say to him if I had ever met him - "Thank you, sir."
Set in Nevada in 1901, Wayne plays John Bernard Books, considered one of the last infamous gunfighters of the Old West. Books settles into Carson City and learns he's dying of cancer. Hoping to live his last few days quietly, he is befriended by a strong-willed widow (Lauren Bacall) who owns a boarding house, and her impressionable son (Ron Howard). His presence becomes known, and enemies from his past emerge looking for a fight, while other so-called friends try to coax the legendary outlaw into letting a little fame rub off. Books soon develops a tender friendship with the Bacall character, while becoming a mentor to her eager son, even though the local Marshall is pressuring him to leave town immediately. Books soon figures out how to rid himself of his enemies and his debilitating condition in one swift stroke.
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Steven Hellerstedt on February 12, 2006
Format: DVD
An aged gunfighter tries to find a quiet corner to spend his last days after learning he has terminal cancer, but the world has other plans.

John Wayne plays the old cowboy in THE SHOOTIST, truly one of the most remarkable westerns ever. For one thing, this is Wayne's last movie, and it's fitting that the movie cowboy icon bows out in a movie about a famous gunfighter coming to terms with his own mortality. That the character has `a cancer,' as doctor Jimmy Stewart barks out at one point, makes it all the more immediate. At the time THE SHOOTIST was filmed Wayne had already lost one lung to cancer. Wayne, an understated and honest actor, is so perfect for the role it was a little surprising to hear, on the short `making of' documentary on the dvd, that George C. Scott was consider for the role. Scott was a powerful and clever actor, and certainly would have done a good job with this juicy role, but he lacked Wayne's personal history with cancer and icon status. The cast is filled with strong character actors, most of them playing varying degrees of baddies. Henry Morgan is the sheriff who can't wait for Wayne to kick the bucket. John Carradine plays the gaunt mortician who has a particular interest in what happens after the bucket is kicked. Hugh O'Brian and Richard Boone are a couple of old foes with serious scores to settle.

But the movie is content, wisely, to concentrate most of its attention on character. The heart of this movie is in the scenes between Wayne and Lauren Bacall, as the widow from whom he rents a boarding room from, and her son, played by Ron Howard. Fans of Wayne, those familiar with his earlier westerns, will find these scenes quietly moving. For my money THE SHOOTIST is a classic, contains what may be Wayne's best on-screen performance, and is essential viewing for those who love western movies. A five-star gem.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 18, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
John Wayne's last film serves as an epitaph of his enormously popular career in film.
"The Shootist", directed by Don Siegel in 1976, went through numerous delays and battles before the film was finished. But what the audience is left here is nothing short of a masterpiece. This should serve (and in my opinion, it does serve)as the pinnacle of both John Wayne's and Don Siegel's careers.
Many people who are not John Wayne fans will get the exact same enjoyment out of this film as much as his biggest fans do. Simply because the film is beautifully shot and is deeply heartfelt and moving.
John Wayne plays J.B. Books, a gunfighter looking to retire. When he returns to Carson City 15 years after one of his greatest gunfights, he is a changed man. He is also an ill man. Doc Hostetler (played be Jimmy Stewart) is forced to tell Books the bad news that he is dying of cancer. (Unfortunately, Wayne truly was dying of lung cancer during the filming of the motion picture). Obeying Hostetler's orders, Books gets a room at Widow Rogers' (Lauren Bacall) boarding house and intends to live out the rest of his life in peace. This does not happen however as the rumour spreads quickly around the town that Books is dying and every gunfighter trying to make a name for themselves unsuccessfully try to shoot him down.
With just days before his 58th birthday, Books decides to "go out in style" (guns blazing). He gets Widow Rogers' son, Gillom (played by Ron Howard) to tell local gunfighters Cobb, Pulford and Sweeney that he will meet them at the Metropole Saloon on his birthday. It's just hours before the Rogers' realize what Books is planning to do.
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