The Shootist Review

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Dying gunfighter J.B. Books spends his last days looking for a way to die with a minimum of pain and a maximum of dignity.


John Wayne’s last movie is a dignified, thoughtful Western, heartbreakingly close to the Duke’s actual situation and very cunning in its use of Wayne’s screen persona to fill in the background of the character he plays here.

Jimmy Stewart and Lauren Bacall guest as links to the legendary cinematic past from which weary old gunfighter J. B. Books (Wayne) staggers into Carson City the week Queen Victoria dies, hoping to stir up a shooting fight with old enemies Richard Boone and Hugh O’Brian so he can go out in a hail of bullets and glory rather than succumb to the slow agony of cancer.

Directed with autumnal tones and a sombre pace by Don Siegel, this proved after a succession of flabby 70s movies, that Wayne was still a powerful screen actor.

The Duke's last hurrah is one of the very best of a cycle of 70s movies that served as obituaries for the Western itself.