The Shootist (1976)

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  • Ouch, Chester. That stings. As a card-carrying member of the Liberal party I'm proud to be a fan of John Wayne. I make no secret of it and I'm certainly not ashamed of it. There's plenty of room in the world for all of us to respect one another.

    While I'd never read that particular review before I knew that there were many undeserved slings and arrows aimed at The Shootist when it premiered. At this point one must wonder whether the Western genre was being punished for its demise rather than the film itself at that moment. Family Westerns were dead and buried by 1976. Unless a Western showed blood and brains squirting from bullet wounds, few would attend the film.

    In my humble opinion, few critics understood The Shootist when it premiered. Pat Berman missed it by a mile. She evidently confused it with a sequel to everything else Mr Wayne made.

    John Wayne himself had intended to go on filming more movies. From what I have read, Mr Wayne had great difficulty in making that film. I believe it was Maureen O'Hara (please, do correct me if I'm wrong) who wrote Lauren Bacall said that Mr Wayne was coughing up blood during filming and was on O2 at all times when he wasn't on camera. Still, it was never meant to be his swan song.

    My uncle lost a lung to lung cancer and he lived a very long 20 years on a single lung, suffering all that time. It was not pleasant nor was it a happy life for him. He had to retire immediately and he never worked on anything again. I can only imagine how it was for Mr Wayne. I have the greatest respect for him that he not only completed the film after being hospitalised but that he intended to go on making more films. John Wayne was truly an inspiration to us all.

    Now I've battled cancer myself I understand what a real hero John Wayne truly was to us all. I wouldn't usually write about my personal life when I've been a member such a short time on a board, but I feel this is relevant.

    Name-calling is never helpful, Chester. During the time this film premiered, remember that violence in America was increasing and people were wondering if it was connected to violence on television and in films. The Vietnam War was fresh in memory. My brother, a Marine Ranger, was still MIA.

    I came here to talk about The Shootist with friends. If Liberals aren't welcome here then never mind.

    We're burning moonlight.

  • I watched the first 20 minutes of the shootist then turned it off, my two favorite actors are in it, and I love happy days but I just found it too raw.

    Hi G. You didn't give it a chance. The guy who went with us the first time I saw it in the theater almost ruined the whole movie for us.....all very staunch Duke fans. But, as it went along, he got more and more quiet. Duke showed a side that was completely outside his norm in some places.......others, he was still Duke. Have to take that back. Throughout, he was Duke....just an older one who was dying. He acted as if I would have expected him to in that situation. His facial expressions were incredible. There was chaos and there was laughter.

    His accepting the fact that he was dying and his interactions with Jimmy Stewart were gut wrenching for a Duke fan......also for a Stewart fan as he played his part well in that his explanations to JB Books were extrememly difficult for him.....he LIKED Books. But, by the time Books left the Doc's office the first go around, and the telling of where he got the pillow was pretty much the end of Book's feeling sorry for himself. Oh, he still had the scene to go through with the Doc on just HOW he was going to die, but he had already accepted it as a fact.

    The rest of the movie was the building of relationships, Books' trying to get as much living in as possible, and the planning of his death, which thanks to the Doc's few sentences, would not be one of a slow living hell kind of dying.

    This is one of Duke's movies that you just cannot miss G. It was Duke's last gift to us.....think of it that way. If he didn't show he could truly act in The Shootist, he NEVER did!

    This last time, I have watched it about times 20. Today was the first instance there were absolutely no tears....not one. I believe it took me that many times to truly understand and appreciate this movie as Duke meant for us to......I am a bit slow, you know.

    So, G., do yourself a favor, get ready emotionally, and then sit down and watch it...all the way through. This is life as real as it gets. No "window dressing" in this one. And IF Duke had really been JB Books as he was portrayed, the end was right on the money! Remember, he still WON in the was the third eye that got him.....just as he had wanted it to.


    God, she reminds me of me! DUKE

  • I take your point but i might be one for me abit further down the line. I'm not ashamed to say I found it all too much emotional and depressing, especially the way the duke played it and knowing how he ended up. I will give it another chance eventually though, just might leave it awhile yet.

    Well, Gareth, you are quite young. I am trying to remember I felt about things like that at your age. I believe I might have felt as you do unless someone older had explained it to me. I have tried to. I really think you would get a new appreciation of Duke early on that most of us were never able to do because of our age and the fact that we sort of "grew up" with him. I still think you should see it as soon as you can. You will be able to see Duke, the Man, and then will be able to enjoy all the movies of his that you haven't seen yet. You will see him at what I think is his very best acting. But, maybe you want to save the "dessert" for the end of the "meal". For that is what the Shootist is.....the "dessert"! Duke gives us HIMSELF in this movie. He was not diagnosed with cancer again as of yet. But, he was coughing up blood and using oxygen all the time. He knew. Although he made other plans, he knew. I just wish Duke could have gone out as JB Books did....sure would been a lot easier for him.
    Did you see the Jimmy Stewart movie yet.

    And don't ever be is a sign of weakness, LOL........just joking, it is a JW quote that says "Don't ever apologize, it is a sign of weakness"! Think it was in Yellow Ribbon? One of the trilogies.

    Just remember.......lots of folks say Duke couldn't act. If someone sees The Shootist and says that, they are stark raving LOCO! Keith

    God, she reminds me of me! DUKE

  • Just to clarify a point that has again been mentioned.
    This taken from IMDb and is in our profile of the movie,

    In the trivia section


    Lauren Bacall's character's first name was a reference to Ward Bond.

    Hope this answers the query

    Best Wishes
    London- England

  • Don't know if this counts,but Wagon Train....The Andrew Hale Story. Excellent episode with John McIntyre long before he took over the actual Wagon Master's job after Ward's death. Super Story and showcases not only Ward but Charlie,(Frank McGrath), and Bill,(Terry Wilson), also. Keith

    Whyever not?

    Yesterday I screened The Shootist for the umpteenth time, planning to look only at the saloon decor...from the beginning I was once again drawn into the story and found myself watching every single second. Decor? What decor?

    JB Books was a wonderful character, full of dignity and grace. He was a man determined to live and die on his own terms. As he went out he took with him some men who needed killing. I like that about him.

    From my bias I must say that I believe Richard Boone (Mike Sweeney) was the best villain of the three. He projected extreme ill-will and menace for the brief time he was on screen. Lauren Bacall (Bond Rogers) seemed to shudder internally after meeting his character. The two other men were coral snakes, deadly when picked up, but Boone was a 4 meter rattlesnake, coiled and ready to strike with venom dripping from both fangs. We knew that Mike Sweeney had an agenda. Remember that Boone's line about retribution was improvised on the spot.

    Oh, that John Wayne and Richard Boone had made more films together. Three wasn't enough for me. Then again, they did excel...

    John Carradine's another favourite as the undertaker, Hezekiah Beckum. In his cameo he fleshes out an entire character of a sleazy man who will wrest every penny of profit he can from a man's corpse. Carradine went on to make 30 more appearances in film and television but this character stands out. It was perfect casting.

    We're burning moonlight.

  • OK, here is what I posted on the NET. Then, there is the sketch....was going to do the walls, steps, etc. but decided it was more "striking" just plain.
    What do yall think? On purpose, or just happenstance?

    New finding by Keith Payne Wikipedia talk
    After probably over 100 viewings of The Shootist, while getting ready to do some sketches I noticed something that I had never seen or read anything about in all these years. Made me think twice again of the way Duke felt about whether or not this would be his last movie. Not only was he very ill and the finishing of the film was in question, but, he named the landlady his best friend, Bond. However, there was one thing that has been overlooked all these years. And NOW, it stands out like a huge nugget of gold in a stream bed. In the final scene for Duke, he lies covered by Gillom's coat. Directly behind him in the middle of his body in the background is one of the symbols of Duke's entire life.....his extreme patriotism. What is it, why the American Bald Eagle, the symbol of our country, Duke's country. It took us 36 years to find this. Wonder if there are anymore nuggets like this out there. Remember, Duke learned from the best....Pappy Ford. When asked about symbolism which we know he used in all of his really good movies, he always said, "Just a job of 'werk'". Look again, do YOU honestly believe that eagle in that position at THAT time was an accident? Duke, you have once more reminded us of the true patriot you were. May you never stop doing so. Keith Payne

    Pull out your disk and look...been there these 36 years. Duke and Ward are probably looking down saying,
    "Took em long enough!" They just underestimated the effect of seeing Duke like that.....all eyes were on him. Keith

    God, she reminds me of me! DUKE

  • Believe my answer to you disappeared like three others these last two days. Anyway,agree completely about RB. He was the most convincing of the villains. Even Gillom was afraid of him and told JB to be very careful of him as he was mean and hated him. I could and often do watch this movie over and over to see the expressions and hear the voice of our Duke who very convincingly played a dying man determined to go out a winner.....and, he DID! Keith

    God, she reminds me of me! DUKE

  • Did you mean that when RB dropped the table before he fell and he said, "That is for Albert"? That line? I didn't know that. KP

    God, she reminds me of me! DUKE

  • I thought Boone's character should have gone out with a lot more fight. Considering his feelings toward Books, they should have given him a better death scene in my opinion. Maybe due to Duke being sick, they decided not to do anything moe physical between the two (Duke stopped production for a bit due to being ill, and originally, Duke's double Jim Burk was going to do the entire shootout. Their was doubt Duke would be able to finish the film, but as we know, he did).