I’m not a huge fan of westerns, but “The Shootist” is one I popped to the top of my queue because of its star, John Wayne. This was the last film he made before finally succumbing to lung cancer. I haven’t seen a lot of Wayne’s work, so I don’t know if it’s one of his best. But it’s certainly a good film. As my tweet says, The Shootist-In an unfortunate case of typecasting, an aging John Wayne dying of cancer plays an aging gunslinger dying of cancer. 8 (out of 10), Wayne’s character, J.B. Books, is dying of cancer. He returns to Carson City, has his doctor, E.W. Hostetler (James Stewart) confirm the diagnosis then takes a room in a boarding house owned by the widow Rogers (Lauren Bacall). While it’s Books’ intention to live out his final days quietly, Dr. Hostetler, the Carson City Marshal (Harry Morgan) and the widow’s son, (Ron Howard) who is fascinated by Books’ life as a gunfighter, coax him into going out in the proper fashion. Fans of the John Woo school of shoot-outs with their atmospheric lighting, slow-motion photography of unloading ammo magazines and an aviary-load of flying doves – may be a little disappointed by the simplicity of this film’s climatic scene. But it’s a fitting ending for a man of action and few words, just as “The Shootist” is for the career of John Wayne.
Length: 99 minutes
Cast: John Wayne, James Stewart, Lauren Bacall, Ron Howard
Director: Don Siegel
Genre(s): Drama, Western