THE SHOOTIST (1976)
Starring- John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Ron Howard, James Stewart
The final film in John Wayne's storied career is a classic. Although sometimes overlooked, it provides us with what I believe to be Wayne's best performance. The Duke plays J.B. Books, the last of the great gunmen, who is dying from terminal cancer. This film has very poignant overtones because Wayne himself died from cancer a few years later.
Books stays at the home of the Widow Rogers (Bacall) while he decides how to live out his remaining days. During the ensuing week Books is prey to old flames, enemies and newspapermen, all hoping to cash in on the famous shootist before he dies. For Books, death is a very private matter and he chooses to make sure that he does it on his terms.
Wayne adeptly goes between vulnerable and tough, as he wrestles with mortality. It is very moving, and it makes you want to treat your own demise with a much dignity as he does. The cast is very strong, and features some of Wayne's old pals, like Jimmy Stewart, in supporting roles. The Shootist ends a great era in film with wistful aplomb. Westerns would never be the same after Wayne's death, just as the world in the movie would be different without the gunfighter. The parallels between Books and Wayne make the film better than it could have been with any other actor.
Things to watch for-
Colonel Potter as Marshal Thibido
Some bitchin red paint they use for blood
"I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted and I won't be laid a hand on."