The Shootist Review

There are a lot of classic westerns that I saw as a kid and don’t have the best recollection of; High Noon, Tombstone, Big Jake, The Searchers, and The Shootist. This one always stuck with me though because I of the ides and the challenging of the westerns core ideal, the good guy with the gun is the hero. Now this movie doesn’t make John Wayne out to be the bad guy but it does show the complications of his lifestyle and how the world moved past it.
The story is about an old gunslinger who comes into a growing town in 1901. He soon discovers he has cancer and gets his affairs in order while mentoring a young man played by Ron Howard.
Fittingly this is John Wayne’s last movie, made three years before his death, and in some ways it’s a loving send up to the genre he represents. The opening titles are fantastic with a montage of his character throughout his career and cinematography that calls back to how the western was shot for several decades. The movie is also full of veteran actors such as James Stewart and Lauren Bacall who turn in fantastic performance, but the ideas are what carries this movie for me. This came at a time when the old Hollywood system and the westerns that were made in it were dying out and making way to more thoughtful commentaries on society just as the wild country of Wayne is being replaced by the lawful city life of Howard.
The movie isn’t perfect. Apart from the main theme the score is often over the top, the cinematography while sometimes clever is often bland especially a lackluster final shot, and while nitpicky the blood is super fake.
This is one of the westerns that must be scene if you want to understand the genre. It commentates on the ideas of the traditional western hero, what the western represents, and the time the film was made. The Shootist is an American classic that deserves it’s place among the greatest westerns.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s