Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Film Club enjoys The Shootist

Sunday evening saw Dong and Shazzerooneypoos plonked on their favourite futon sofa, legs dangling, munching leftover cheese and biccies from the Safari Supper and goggling at our antiquated, steam driven television set.

Note to any TV licence people reading - no we haven't got one, no we don't need one. The set is detuned and is unable to receive any external signal.

We all settled down to watch John Wayne's last ever on screen performance as John Bernard "JB" Books, an aging gunfighter of the old west who has outlived his time both literally and metaphorically. Books is diagnosed as dying early in the film and the narrative concerns his search for both his own peace and a way to die without too much pain and with some dignity.

Wonderfully supported by the stunningly gorgeous Lauren Bacall and a stellar cast, Wayne actually managed to act in this film. Having spent most of his career as what I like to think of as the Status Quo of film actors - capable of doing one thing, found it was successful so just kept doing it over and over and over...Wayne came up with goods big time for his swansong.

If you only see one 'Duke' film - make it this one. Directed in 1975 with a nice deft touch by Don Siegel, no one is allowed to over act (except perhaps Scatman Crothers, but with a name like that how could he do otherwise) and the pacing is kept just the right side of slow-burn.
Something I found quite amusing was the reliance of the script on the audience's knowledge of wild west movie cliches and norms. So much of it simply wouldn't make sense without that knowledge, but it's a knowledge we all have. And we have it, as much as anything through Big John Wayne's career of drawling some nonsense before shooting the bad guy.
Mmm, I wonder what Amazon DVD rental will send us next...

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