One last look at The Shootist
As 2016 comes to an end, we remember the last John Wayne Classic
with the finest 4.5mm caliber Colt ever created
By Dennis Adler
The poster from the 1976 film shows all the legendary actors who made The Shootist one of John Wayne’s best western films of all time, Richard Boone (upper left), Hugh O’Brian (upper right), Jimmy Stewart (lower right) Lauren Bacall (lower left) and John Wayne. The limited edition hand engraved 4.5mm Umarex Colt “Shootist” Peacemaker is copied from one of the guns carried by Wayne in the film.
It is hard to believe but four decades have passed since John Wayne appeared in his last film, the 1976 classic The Shootist. It was a film populated with memorable characters created by novelist Glendon Swarthout and his son Miles, who wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation. To bring life to the Swarthout’s characters required actors of unparalleled talent and an acting experience deeply rooted to the American West. No one other than John Wayne could have portrayed John Bernard Books. Wayne was the perfect embodiment of an aging gunfighter, tall, heavy, craggy faced and filled with the sorrow and understanding of a man who had lived on both sides of the law, taken too many lives and lived too little of life without a gun. It was his wisdom that gave him solace to face a fight he could not win. Books was dying of cancer, a diagnosis twice confirmed, the second time by an old friend, Dr. E.W. Hostetler, played by the legendary Jimmy Stewart, also in his last film role. Stewart was remembered for two celebrated westerns of his own, Winchester ’73 and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (the latter also starring John Wayne). The film’s casting also required two equally dynamic villains, roles appropriately filled by another pair of unforgettable western actors, Richard Boone as gunman Mike Sweeney, who is seeking revenge for Books having gunned down his brother, and Hugh O’Brian as gambler and opportunistic gunfighter Jack Pulford. Boone and O’ Brian were cast against type having both been TV western heroes, but their roles in The Shootist gave them an opportunity to play off Wayne as few actors had. (Boone had actually done this before opposite Wayne in Big Jake).