Oh, God, it's a crime I haven't seen this!
And I'm afraid the penalty has to be harsh! Firing Squad?, Electric Chair?, Public Hanging? Or do you have an alternative?
No, no, those ways aren't shameful enough. I choose the favored suicide agent of the Third Reich. After a last supper, I'll thanks my most loyal staff and friends, repose myself to my private study, where I'll bite into a Cyanide capsule then fire a bullet into my brain.
You'll be pleased to know, that instead of suicide, I decided to run out and rent THE SHOOTIST instead. Good thing I did, too, because now I realize how much more of a man I am for it. In fact, it's one of those films you never see, where an aging legend of the West comes to grips with his own mortality, mirroring the real life struggles of the legendary star portraying that gunman. I watched the documentary on the DVD about the making of the film, and didn't realize that Wayne had already lost one lung (several years before filming) due to lung cancer. It's like your watching Wayne himself come to terms with his own looming death. Oddly enough, it's up lifting in a way. And he's so utterly charming in this film, it's hard for me to believe it's not considered his greatest work. I loved this picture.
I'm very glad you were inspired to watch this fine film Greg. I'm not a big fan of John Wayne, and there are very few films of his I would enthusiastically defend - but this is one of them. One thing that irks me about THE SHOOTIST though is that director Don Siegel tends to get overlooked in discussions of the film. Some would argue rightly so, because as you note, it was very much a case of life imitating art. But Siegel continues a tremendous run of genre films dating back to the mid 1950's. There is also a nice little role for James Stewart.
Yeah, Stewart's role as the town doctor was a highlight. In the mini-doc on the DVD they talk about how for the budget they were able to get such a great supporting cast, because the writing was very much on the wall that this would probably be Wayne's last film. His friends and admirers just wanted to take part in what was (to them) an poignant moment. I believe that many of Wayne's films don't translate as well today due to the fact they were very much of their time. One could argue the he - and a few key others, most notably his principle director Mr. Ford - were responsible for building the western genre itself, the very same genre that was deconstructed in many ways later on.And I love me some Don Siegel! I also rentedCharley Varrick CHARLEY VARRICK, but haven't had a chance to watch it, yet. Soon. Very soon indeed, my friend.
Yes Ford and Wayne were very strongly associated with the traditional western, but even Ford was sucked into the vortex of generic revisionism with his film SERGEANT RUTLEDGE. Wayne was much more steadfast in his iconic persona, and I don't think his persona translated particularly well to the fractious political and social firmament of the late 1960's and early 1970's. The time called for ambiguous heroes, which is why Clint Eastwood caught on so well. I also have a copy of CHARLEY VARRICK which I haven't got around too watching - not enough hours in the day! Here are my Top 5 Don Siegel films;INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS THE KILLERS COOGAN'S BLUFF THE BEGUILED DIRTY HARRY What say you?