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The Shootist begins with a combination of montages and credits as follows:
 
Dino De Laurentis Presents
 
A Frankovich/Self Production 
 
The team of Mike Frankovich and William Self lasted just over a year, and produced only 2 movies, both in 1976: "The Shootist" (John Wayne's final film) and "From Noon Till Three" (with Charles Bronson).
 
John Wayne [as J.B. Books: "The Shootist"]
Lauren Bacall [as the widow Bond Rogers, The Innkeeper]
 
"in a Siegel film"
 
Don Siegel only worked on several major movies, and was the Director of "The Shootist"
 
THE SHOOTIST
 
The film starts with a montage of date-stamped shooting scenes, quickly taking you through the previous 20 years of John Wayne's life, and accompanied by brief narration:
 
1871 - Ron Howard narrating (amazing!) "His name was J.B. Books. He had a matching pair of "˜45s with antique ivory grips that were something to behold."
 
1880 - "He wasn't an outlaw. Fact is, for awhile, he was a lawman."

1885 - "Long before I met Mr. Books, he was a famous man. I guess his fame was why somebody-or-other was always after him."
 
1889 - "The Wild Country had taught him to survive. He lived his life, and herded by himself.
 
1895 - "He had a credo that went, "˜I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.'"
 
The film then, somewhat surprisingly, switches from black-and-white to color.
 
Co-Starring Ron Howard [as Gillom Rogers, Lauren Bacall's son]
Bill McKinney [as Jay Cobb, a creamery owner (with the original food truck)]

 
Guest-Stars James Stewart [as Dr. Hostetler, the town physician]
Richard Boone [as Mike Sweeney, brother of one of Books' victims]
John Carradine [as Hezekiah Beckum, the local undertaker]
Scatman Crothers [as Moses, a stable keeper]
Richard Lenz [as Dan Dobkins, a reporter with "The Morning Appeal"]
Harry Morgan [(Colonel Potter on Mash) as Marshall Thibido, the town marshall]
Sheree North [as Serepta, an old flame of Books
Hugh O'Brian [as Jack Pulford, a professional gambler and marksman]

Production Designer Robert Boyle
Film Editor Douglas Stewart
Music by Elmer Bernstein [unrelated to Leonard Bernstein, but the two were friends]
Director of Photography Bruce SurteesA.S.C.
Based on the Novel by Glendon Swarthout
Screenplay by Miles Hood Swarthout [son of Glendon Swarthout] and Scott Hale
Produced by M.J. Frankovich and William Self
Directed by Don Siegel
 
MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW FOR THE REST OF THE WRITE-UP
 
[Plot summaries bore me to tears, and always have (unless you're cheating the night before a test in high school, reading the Cliff Notes for "Hamlet") - I figure if you're going to watch the movie, you'll do just fine learning the the plot on your own, so allow me to offer up pure commentary]
 
The backbone of the movie now starts as Wayne rides up to a man standing on the other side of a creek. It's January 22, 1901, and the papers are reporting that Queen Victoria died. So, it's the end of the Victorian Era in the wild west of America.
 
The opening scene establishes Wayne as a non-nonsense, "˜don't mess with me, leave me alone and I'll leave you alone' man in no uncertain terms. He then rides into Carson City, Nevada.
 
If you don't remember what made Jimmy Stewart so popular and beloved, all you need to do is watch the brief scene in Dr. Hotstetler's office.
 
Marshall Thibido enters Books' room, at first scared, but then irritatingly arrogant when he learns of Books' impending death. Obviously, Books is a man who is simultaneously feared, respected, and hated by many. The Marshall implied he would piss on Books' grave when he died.
 
Gillom Rogers and Moses discovered Books' true identity from inspecting the brand on his horse - it turns out this man is a nationally famous gunman, and a celebrity. Gillom was eavesdropping, Books found out, and he yanked Gillom through a window (using an impressive, Data-like, one-armed body throw).
 
The viewer starts to get worried when the words "Second Day," "Third Day," etc. occasionally flash up on the screen. Dr. Hotstetler told Books he only had a couple months left (he has "a cancer"), and here his days are numbered, literally.
 
When Dan Dobkins, the mercenary reporter from the local daily newspaper, began intentionally overacting in seeking to write a series about Books, it was not difficult to know that when he left through the front door, it wouldn't be by walking. I understand this has some degree of comic relief to it (up until now, we've dealt with some pretty serious subject matter, without a whole lot of yucks), but I prefer my salve to either be subtle, or so outrageous that it causes belly laughs; this fell somewhere in-between, and didn't do much for me.
 
The scene where Dr. Hotstetler gives Books his bottle of laudanum reminds me of how much I enjoy watching pretty much anything Jimmy Stewart does. He can be the very definition of "corny," but he plays the corn so naturally that it seems to permeate his inner fiber in real life.
 
You know? There is something very Star Trek about this movie, and I can't quite put my finger on why. I know I've been intensely working my way through the first two Star Trek series lately, but the "feel" I get in the saloon scene (where Jack Pulford kills the man), for example, is similar to what I got in "The Royale" (The Next Generation, season 2, episode 12). There have been several moments in this film so far (and I'm only 38 minutes into it) where I've "felt" The Next Generation. Maybe it's because I've been *so* intensely involved with Star Trek that the smallest resemblance seems to scream loudly.
 
Seeing Scatman Crothers haggling with Books over buying his horse made me realize how oddly these characters are cast. Lauren Bacall? Ron Howard? A smug-bordering-on-sadistic Harry Morgan? But it's all knit together beautifully - does anyone know who is responsible for putting together the ensemble, the producer, or the director? Amazingly John Wayne was not the first choice to play Books; Paul Newman was - it's a good thing Newman was committed to another project, because Wayne positively owned this role.
 
The conversation Books and Gillom had about Bat Masterson was a nice touch, and really grounded the movie. This "shooting lesson" was a strong scene, and bonded the two lead characters nicely.
 
Serepta probably reminds a lot of viewers about someone they know. There are a lot of Sereptas in this world.
 
Picture Ron Howard and Lauren Bacall strolling to church in their Sunday finest, when Howard starts whistling Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag." Bacall: "You know that kind of music gets on my nerves - especially on Sunday." Good thing you didn't make it to the 21st century, Mrs. Rogers.
 
I'm 1:18 into a 1:37 movie, and I get a strong sense that this is going to have a "Gran Torino" finale. If that's the case, it's remarkable how much these two plots overlap.
 
The Act that begins with "Last Day," and continues with Books looking at his own tombstone is somewhere between morbid and chilling.
 
*Not* a Gran Torino finale! And "The Shootist" is a far superior movie, too. If anyone has seen Gran Torino and liked it, I suspect you'll love The Shootist.
 
Thanks for the recommendation, Joe Riley.

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Last night, I rented a movie on Amazon, and had 24 hours to watch it. In the "Favorite Movies" thread, people say when they see a favored film playing on TV, they stop, and watch it. I forsook my paid Amazon movie because I stumbled across "The Shootist" on YouTube (it's crap quality - don't watch it here), and I gave up my paid movie to watch this again.

This is an excellent movie. Thanks to Joe Riley for recommending it to me.

Not long after Books gets his haircut, Gillom is walking with him mom, whistling Maple Leaf Rag, which I thought was interesting - the movie takes place in 1901; Maple Leaf Rag was released in 1899, so the timing is entirely plausible (his mom berated him for whistling "that kind of music" on a Sunday!) Oh! I see I already mentioned this up above!

A great piece of dialogue when Books slips in the tub, and hurts himself, while Bond (the innkeeper) is within earshot. He says:

"*Damn!*"

"Oh, John Bernard, you swear too much."

"The *Hell* I do!"

I may like "The Shootist" as much as I like "Unforgiven," and that's saying something. It's a splendid film.

Jan 1, 1976 - "The Shootist" by Roger Ebert on rogerebert.com - Ebert's criticisms in his penultimate paragraph are perfectly valid ones.

"The Shootist" on rottentomatoes.com (*)

(*) - When rottentomatoes first came out, I thought it was just about the perfect website; now, they know what I know (or vice-versa): It's easy to make a good website; it's the devil's work to maintain one, especially when you rely on external links as much as they do. Now you know why I link to Wikipedia whenever I can, even when Wikipedia may not be the best choice - I trust that it will be around for awhile (I've certainly bet heavily on it).

I want to keep *saying things* about "The Shootist," but I don't know what else to say - just watch it. I think it's included with a Netflix membership.

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SPOILER ALERT

I watched "The Shootist" last night and I loved it. John Wayne's performance is outstanding. The emotion he conveys with his blue eyes (without saying a word) whenever his cancer is mentioned, moved me. It brought me to tears. His comic timing is also spot on. There are a lot of very funny lines delivered by Wayne in this film.

I loved the scene where he tolerates a long-winded speech and replies, "Well, that was a long way around the barn." I also liked his, "the hell I do," reply to being told he curses too much.

One of the earliest scenes made me think of "Taxi Driver," another film from 1976. When a buggy in which Ron Howard's character is riding approaches Wayne and the driver asks him to move, Wayne replies, "You talking to me?" DeNiro is credited with improvising that scene, and I guess that still holds up, since "Taxi Driver" was released in February and "The Shootist" came out in August.

The ending made me think of Gran Torino as well, particularly the part with the haircut and the suit preparation.

One negative (which, incidentally, is an issue I had with "Taxi Driver") is how fake the blood spurting out of the shooting victims looks. It brought to mind packets of catsup, or perhaps Taco Bell hot sauce because on my television it looked orange/red. It was filmed in 1976, and special effects weren't what they are today, but it took my mind out of the story and reminded me that I was watching make believe.

This film has something for everyone. There is a little romance, a good amount of action, a lot of humor and some extremely moving scenes about coping with illness and preparing for death. "The Shootist" is a beautifully acted, extremely entertaining movie that I highly recommend.

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SPOILER ALERT

I watched "The Shootist" last night and I loved it. John Wayne's performance is outstanding. The emotion he conveys with his blue eyes (without saying a word) whenever his cancer is mentioned, moved me. It brought me to tears. His comic timing is also spot on. There are a lot of very funny lines delivered by Wayne in this film.

I loved the scene where he tolerates a long-winded speech and replies, "Well, that was a long way around the barn." I also liked his, "the hell I do," reply to being told he curses too much.

One of the earliest scenes made me think of "Taxi Driver," another film from 1976. When a buggy in which Ron Howard's character is riding approaches Wayne and the driver asks him to move, Wayne replies, "You talking to me?" DeNiro is credited with improvising that scene, and I guess that still holds up, since "Taxi Driver" was released in February and "The Shootist" came out in August.

...

Well, pardon me all to *Hell*! (I *loved* that line!)

I didn't realize until just now that this movie came out *after* "Taxi Driver," even though I just saw both. (Doesn't "The Shootist" seem older for some reason?) I, too, thought of "Taxi Driver" when he said that line, and was wondering if De Niro "borrowed" the line - it turns out *Siegel* "borrowed" the line.

SPOILER ALERT

One negative (which, incidentally, is an issue I had with "Taxi Driver") is how fake the blood spurting out of the shooting victims looks. It brought to mind packets of catsup, or perhaps Taco Bell hot sauce because on my television it looked orange/red. It was filmed in 1976, and special effects weren't what they are today, but it took my mind out of the story and reminded me that I was watching make believe.

This film has something for everyone. There is a little romance, a good amount of action, a lot of humor and some extremely moving scenes about coping with illness and preparing for death. "The Shootist" is a beautifully acted, extremely entertaining movie that I highly recommend.

One thing I think is important to convey to potential viewers is that this movie is in no way a bloodbath - there are a couple of gun-shooting scenes, but the violence itself is largely impressionistic rather than actual - in this Quentin Tarantino-numbed world, this film could have been rated PG-13. I didn't notice the ketchup-like blood, but I really don't remember seeing all that much blood (I also watched on a Chromebook, so didn't see it on a large screen).

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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On 4/6/2016 at 5:44 PM, DonRocks said:

Well, pardon me all to *Hell*! (I *loved* that line!)

I didn't realize until just now that this movie came out *after* "Taxi Driver," even though I just saw both. (Doesn't "The Shootist" seem older for some reason?) I, too, thought of "Taxi Driver" when he said that line, and was wondering if De Niro "borrowed" the line - it turns out *Siegel* "borrowed" the line.

Yes, "The Shootist" definitely seems older. It has more of a late '60s feel to me. Of course, Ron Howard was playing little Opie Taylor in the late '60s, so that wouldn't make sense. Still, I was surprised to see it was released in 1976.

On 4/6/2016 at 5:44 PM, DonRocks said:

One thing I think is important to convey to potential viewers is that this movie is in no way a bloodbath - there are a couple of gun-shooting scenes, but the violence itself is largely impressionistic rather than actual - in this Quentin Tarantino-numbed world, this film could have been rated PG-13. I didn't notice the ketchup-like blood, but I really don't remember seeing all that much blood (I also watched on a Chromebook, so didn't see it on a large screen).

There was a certain innocence to "The Shootist" that I enjoyed. It wasn't corny or overly sentimental, and it certainly wasn't graphically violent. There is more bloodshed and gore in the opening credits of today's crime-based television shows (CSI whatever) than in this entire film.

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