The Shootist

(Don Siegel, 1976)

with Darcy, Theo Meneau, and Lucy Frisch, Barn Screening Room, 9/1/14



John Wayne may be one of the cinema’s quintessential tough guys, but I think it’s the twinkle in his eye that made him a star.  In the role of a past-his-prime gunfighter trying to go out with a little dignity, Wayne is all soft-spoken, easygoing charm – which somehow doesn’t make him seem any less dangerous.  Lauren Bacall is a worthy foil for the Duke, and the warmth of their bickering gives the movie much of its underlying sweetness.  Like many of the great Westerns, The Shootist is both a critique and a celebration of violence – an elegy for America’s frontier past, and an acknowledgment of the inevitability of progress.  Best of all, the movie offers an ending that is wholly unpredictable, yet undeniably right.  What a fine and pleasurable movie.  When we talk about great Westerns, let’s not forget this one.

Published in: on October 8, 2014 at 11:35 am  Leave a Comment  

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