Monday, September 22, 2008

Underrated movie: John Wayne's 'The Shootist'

I know some may brand me as un-American for writing this, but I have never been much of a John Wayne fan. I really don't know why. We can't all have the same tastes, so maybe this is one of those things where I am in the minority.

However, there is one film of his that I think is excellent, and I don't often hear it talked about when discussions of his body of work take place.

The Shootist was made in 1976 and is a character study of a dying gunfighter. Wayne's character had killed a lot of people in his life and now he was having to deal with his own mortality. In a way, the film mirrored what Wayne was going through in his own life. His character, John Bernard Books, was dying of cancer just as Wayne would die from it not long after this film.

Perhaps that is why this film stands out to me. The most gripping types of art are when art imitates life and vice versa. Obviously, Wayne didn't murder a lot of people, but he was definitely facing the issues of a life that was winding down.

The film has an excellent cast. Jimmy Stewart has a small but memorable supporting role. Lauren Bacall and Ron Howard are also outstanding.

For those interested, read here for more.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nah, you're not un-American ... you've just got good taste. The Duke was no actor - he was a personality. Most of his movies were crap, but a few - The Shootist, True Grit, Rooster Cogburn - were pretty darn good.

Anonymous said...

Nah, you're not un-American ... you've just got good taste. The Duke was no actor - he was a personality. Most of his movies were crap, but a few - The Shootist, True Grit, Rooster Cogburn - were pretty darn good.

Chris said...

Good points. Both times.

Joltin' Django said...

"The Duke was no actor - he was a personality."

Wrong.

No one who ever watched Stagecoach, A Man Betrayed, They Were Expendable, just to name a few, would make such a ridiculous statement.

Chris said...

'Stagecoach' is an excellent film. First-rate all the way.

Anonymous said...

sorry ... i've seen them all and i stand by my statement. as much as i like some of the duke's work, he was - for the most part - a personality doing the same thing that *ack" tom cruise does in every movie - playing himself. with both you don't see the character, you see the actor playing the character - if you get my drift. that's not acting, and it's certainly not good acting by any definition of the term.

Joltin' Django said...

I simply cannot/will not agree with your assertion that John Wayne was more "personality" than actor. You obviously have never watched the films I referenced - or you didn't watch them very well. Otherwise, you would've NEVER made your ridiculous Duke/Tom Cruise analogy. Hell, I feel dirty just typing "Duke" and "Cruise" in close proximity.

Anonymous said...

As did I, from a nostalgia standpoint. And yes, I've seen the movies you mentioned.

Sorry, dude. But we're just going to have to walk away from this one, each feeling he's right and the other is wrong or has no taste.

Just wondering ... you're not one of those who also thinks Gone With the Wind was some sort of masterpiece/classic are you? :-)