The Shootout At High Noon Marathon continues, but I find myself with another rebuttal where I don’t have much to rebut!
For a proper understanding of the words I’m typing make sure to head over to Edgar’s Between The Seats and read his review of The Shootist.
Truth be told Edgar, I agree with ninety nine percent of your review. The words you wrote about The Shootist were the words I had in my mind to write before my root beer addled brain took me somewhere else. I have nothing to offer in rebuttal to your first few paragraphs. I agree with your thoughts on the way the director, Don Siegel, handles the figure of John Wayne. I agree with you about the good backing provided by Lauren Bacall, Ron Howard, and Jimmy Stewart. I agree with you on the fine acting delivered from the aforementioned Mr. Wayne. Finally, I agree with your general thoughts on the film, you and I both felt the same when it came to the message and depth of The Shootist.
The one area where I can’t agree with you is on the issue of J.B. Books’, John Wayne’s, death. You said that you found it cheap and that the final shootout didn’t have much build and ultimately wasn’t necessary. I disagree with that sentiment wholeheartedly, but I also realize I am in the minority. After my viewing of The Shootist I read what some of my favorite critics thought about the film, and to a man they didn’t understand the point of the final shootout. Where I differ from you and the rest of the critics is that I felt there was a larger purpose beyond just a simple shootout. From the start of the film I felt Mr. Siegel building towards a final showdown, not through the usual means but through increasing tension over the health of Books. More than all of that, the myth/legend aspect of the film really connected with me. I liked how the death of a legend was handled differently. The showdown was built to on the basis of a legend getting his last chance to shine, but instead he was shot in the back. That made the entire shootout worthwhile in my mind, it turned the scenario on its head and didn’t give me what I expected. I found it fitting that the greatest gunslinger was felled through treachery and not a heroic shootout.
That’s the only aspect of The Shootist where we truly disagreed, thus I have very little else to say. I also wouldn’t call The Shootist a perfect movie, then again I can’t think of a single movie I would call completely perfect. All that matters to me is that we both liked The Shootist, and that continues a positive trend in this marathon. A trend that I am happy to have seen develop and a trend I hope will continue during the final two films in the marathon. I liked The Shootist, you liked The Shootist, we’re just one happy Western loving family!
Read What Edgar had to say at Between The Seats.