the shootist

I watch two or three films every day – there is an incredible amount of story out there. Today, I watched John Wayne’s “The Shootist” for the first time.

An incredible film! I recommend it to anyone – whether they are fans of westerns or not (I’m not, usually).

I couldn’t begin to describe it, so here is a quote from IMDB’s entry:

You Really Should See This Film, 20 October 2003
Author: Dr. Mike from El Paso, Texas

John Wayne is an icon, and so many viewers seem to use his work as a referendum on the larger geo-political issues of our time. I find that distasteful, as this isn’t a political movie, and one that doesn’t even have an oppressed indigenous person in it. This is a personal story of a man who “has outlived his time”, who is dying of cancer, and yet is determined to die with dignity. John Wayne really was dying of cancer when he made this movie… he gathered old friends around him–the widow of Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Stewart, John Carradine, and addressed the topic of how legends die. (Selling the rights for his corpse to be displayed by the undertaker for $50 cash in advance was a particularly interesting idea.) I am viewing this film 27 years after it was made, and there is ‘something’ it had which is absent from movies today. It is a film addressing mature themes for one thing, but it had a pacing, and made time for it’s dialouge–it was never dull, never slow, but proceeded towards it’s climax with the sort of gravitas you very rarely see in today’s cinematic roller coaster rides, which have become little more than special effects vehicles. There is another reason to see this film–it looks back at 1901 with a loving vision. I was impressed with the historical accuracy in which it was filmed–it was impressive to see the town, from the horsedrawn street car and the Stanley Steamer, to little things like the flour dispenser in the kitchen. (Wondered where it was filmed–perhaps the old Old Tucson Studio before it burned down and was rebuilt to be a tourist attraction?) Anyway, this was a lovingly crafted film–I don’t know if Hollywood could still pull this off “as real” in 2003. So, for big reasons and small, “The Shootist” is worth your time. It is deeper than it looks.

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