The tale of an aging gunman in 1901 bound to die of cancer, Don Siegel’s The Shootist (1976) is not what a Western ought to be.
John Wayne performs memorably as John Bernard Books, but far more pleasure is to be had from such energetic Wayne Westerns as Stagecoach, True Grit and even the messy Red River. In contrast, The Shootist needs a pacemaker. What it does not need is decent period-piece production design, for Robert Boyle has provided it. But Siegel—he who directed Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Line-Up—can only disappoint us with a derivative oater like this.
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