Afflicted with a terminal illness John Bernard Brooks, the last of the legendary gunfighters, quietly returns to Carson City for medical attention from his old friend Dr. Hostetler. Aware that his days are numbered, the troubled man seeks solace and peace in a boarding house run by a widow and her son. However, it is not Brooks' fate to die in peace, as he becomes embroiled in one last valiant battle.
The big man bows out and leaves an indelible mark.
Legendary gunfighter J.B. Books rides into Carson City, diagnosed with terminal cancer he has a short time to live. After taking a room at the widow Bond Rogers' house, he becomes something of a mentor to Bond's son, Gillom.
Dignified, eloquent, perhaps even incredibly sad, The Shootist mirrors John Wayne's personal situation and closes his career (and life) with a poignant last hurrah. Based around the popular novel from Glendon Swarthout (Where The Boys Are), and directed by the astutely knowing Don Siegel (The Duel at Silver Creek), The Shootist begins with edited scenes from Books' (Wayne's) life, where he literally ages before us during this montage. Cut to his arrival in Carson City in 1901 and we are about to be witness to the end of an era. Wayne is backed up in his swansong by Lauren Bacall (Bond Rogers), James Stewart (Doc Hostelter) and an engagingly important Ron Howard (Gillom Rogers). While a big shout out has to go to Bruce Surtees' cinematography which perfectly captures the elegiac nature of it all.
The message well and truly hits home and hard come the bloody finale, where with one nod of his head big John Wayne, alias J.B. Books, says more than words surely ever could.
RIP - The Duke. 8/10
Dino De Laurentiis Company, Paramount by Don Siegel, Glendon Swarthout, Miles Hood Swarthout, Scott Hale.
Stars: John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Ron Howard, James Stewart.
Genres: Drama, Romance, Western
Keywords: based on novel or book nevada sniper widow retirement early 1900s
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