- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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- kevin sellers
John Wayne's last film is one of his best. The dying of cancer(as was Wayne) gunfighter J.B. Books is the last in a line of tormented souls, starting with Matt Dunston and running through Nathan Brittles, Ethan Edwards, Spig Wead, Tom Doniphon, and Rooster Cogburn. Anyone who pops off about what a bad actor Wayne was really oughta see those films. If they watch with their politics checked at the door I'll bet they amend their opinion. In addition to Wayne, there is James Stewart, also in his final film, as Doc Hostetler. The scene where Doc tells Books he's dying of cancer, knowing what you know of Wayne's health at the time the movie was made, is distinctly uncomfortable to watch. Lauren Bacall is also fine as the moralistic, disapproving of gunfighters widow who owns the boarding house where Wayne spends his last days. Throw in the always great Richard Boone in one of HIS last films (you can see why this film is often described as a meditation on death) John Carradine in, you guessed it, one of his final films as a sleazy undertaker and Hugh O'Brian, perfect as a suave killer, and you can see why this is one damn fine western. Oh, and director Donn Siegal keeps things moving at a good clip without sacrificing the weary and dying tone of the material. About the only off note for me is Ron Howard. He's a good adolescent actor but, for reasons I cannot articulate, I just can't stand the guy. (That extends to his directorial efforts, as well.) Give it an A. P.S. Almost forgot to mention the excellent screenplay by two guys I've never heard of named Miles Hood Swarthout and Scott Hale. As soon as I finish writing this I'm gonna look 'em up.
Maybe it's because I've seen a few Wayne movies lately -- and had just seen part of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, and was highly attuned to his acting -- but I was struck dumb with how good Wayne is in The Shootist. I knew that his only Oscar was for True Grit, but I kept saying to myself that he surely must have been nominated. Who won the Oscar for best actor in '76? Must have been a great performance.Supposedly six or eight other actors were sought to make this film first -- all of them big names in the '70s, bigger than Wayne, who was considered passe, and too closely linked to a Ronald Reagan type of blind patriotism -- then there's your reason why he wasn't nominated. If the politics were set aside, there is no doubt critics would have been raving about this revelatory performance. What a capstone to a long, influential career as one of America's primary entertainers of the 20th century. He is so accessible in this film, so self-knowing -- particularly when you know by that time he'd already survived a bout of lung cancer -- I knew this when I watched the flick in '76, at the age of 14 -- and understood what he and Stewart and Bacall all meant to my parent's WWII generation -- and there was a sense that this was his last film -- but seeing it for the second time, 38 years later, made me proud to know I had thought it important enough to go and see it back then (i"d always been a fan, of course). If the Academy had a retrospective Oscar -- similar to baseball players being elected to the Hall of Fame by a veterans committee years after the players' original eligibility -- if this film was evaluated in a vacuum strictly on Wayne's art alone -- he'd win the Best Actor Oscar.
- Dashiell B.
Beginning with scenes from his earlier films, we immediately know that this is the Duke's swan song. Not only is this one of his best, this is also his last, and why he wasn't nominated for an Oscar will be an constant conundrum; great supporting work from Bacall & Stewart, Howard recieved a Golden Globe nomination. The deatils of the setting are superb, and the story is touching & poignant, especially with the real-life cancer that was killing Wayne. A masterful film that no "Duke-lover" won't ignore. I give it a 4.5/5.
Without question my favorite Duke film.
Well if I would have watched this movie a few months ago I probaly wouldn't have liked it, but since I know that when Mr. John Wayne made this movie he too was dying of cancer it made a tear come to my eye. This probaly is one of my favorite John Wayne movies.
The Duke's Swan Song.
- Frank Harris Horn
John Wayne brings down the curtain on his long, distinguished career by starring in one of his most memorable performances featuring an all-star cast including James Stewart, Lauren Bacall, Hugh O'Brian, Ron Howard, Sheree North, Richard Boone and John Carradine. Under the direction of Don Siegel, the Duke portrays an aging gunfighter, who learns he has a deadly form of cancer, and hopes to find peace and solace in Carson City, Nevada (where the film was shot), but he has one last battle to fight. An unforgettable, heartfelt moment for the Duke to say farewell by riding off into the sunset. Co-starring Scatman Crothers, Harry Morgan, Melody Thomas, Bill McKinney & Richard Lenz. John Wayne died on June 11, 1979.
Wayne At His Best
This has to be Wayne's best performance. It shows his much-underrated acting skills and how he can develop a character. Best line of the movie: "I'm a dying man, afraid of the dark." Kudos also to Jimmy Stewart, Ron Howard and Richard Boone, who with this movie was in his 3rd film with Wayne (The Alamo and Big Jake the others I believe). Also, a superb job of directing by Don Siegel, who never made a bad movie. Siegel was Clint Eastwood's favorite director and dedicated several of his movies to him. A great story, great cast, great sets...add it all up, and Wayne probably deserved another Oscar nomination for this one. He's better in this one than he was in True Grit.
- Jarrod McDonald
I agree with the others that wrote it's one of John Wayne's best movies. The script is a lot tighter than his other projects. All the fluff and silliness is cut, and what we have is a pared down character study. It makes you wish that more of his films had been so real and resonant. I kept thinking of Lauren Bacall's own experience of losing Humphrey Bogart to cancer, and maybe that's why she was cast in this story, because she knew the subject matter first-hand. Harry Morgan is a great character actor and was riding high on the success of MASH at this time. And Ron Howard was appearing on Happy Days, another cult TV favorite. Interestingly, Ron has not really made any westerns, at least I can't think of any (he tends to work in other genres); and so I wonder what he thinks of this film and his performance in it.
The Shootist (1976)
- James Higgins
John's Wayne's last film is among his best movies. The cast is excellent, lauren Bacall excels, Ron Howard does excellent. Fine character development, good pacing.
John Wayne's fitting exit.
- Roger Phaneuf
Couldn't be better. John Wayne actively pursued the role of J. B. Books for this movie. Thank God he prevailed over George C Scott who was originally scheduled for the role. It's a great tribute to Wayne that many actors solicited for a part in this picture, most notably Hugh O'Brian who would have done it for nothing. His role was expanded so that he could be in it.I'm a huge fan of the Duke and watch the movie 3-4 times a year and tear up every time. J. B. Books IS John Wayne and vice versa.They both died a heroic death.
I happened to catch this movie by accident a few years ago, and it has stuck in my mind ever since, and I'll go out of my way to watch it anytime it comes on. It's true, this is probably the Duke's best film, and ironically, his last. He gives a very real performance - one that, in my mind, deeply relates to his own life. The entire cast is amazing. Lauren Becall is wonderful as Bond, the widowed woman running the boarding house J.B. Books is staying at. This is undoubtedly Ron Howard's best performance as well. You get the feeling that by taking this role, John Wayne was making a statement about his own image, which is similar to the character he plays. There is some very deep stuff in this movie, but it never comes off as heavy. Even if the ending isn't the one you hoped for, you know that it was a victory for the main character. This film is a must-see for anyone. It is not a "western", a "drama" or a "comedy", it is all of the above and none at the same time. Perfect film in every way. Some of John Wayne's lines in this movie will stick in your mind forever.
The best John Wayne movie ever made!
This movie was John Wayne's last-and best-motion picture. I believe his peformance in this movie was the most realistic and fleshed-out character of all of them. It was a timely, fitting movie for Wayne, who portrays a former notorious gunfighter who knows he is dying, trying to find a dignified way to end his life, while, at the same time, fighting-off old enemies who are trying to kill him for the publicity. Incredible cast! Jimmy Stewart, Lauren Bacall, Harry Morgan, etc etc. Many of Hollywood's "greats" joined this project to add dignity and class to an already great movie. A "must see"! Although violent at times, the movie is also tender, reflective, and poignant. Even if you are not a fan of John Wayne, the powerful story and great acting of everyone in the picture will keep you from leaving your seat. This movie is a true classic in every sense of the word.