You feel differently about the last movie a film star makes, especially when the storyline reflects a part of his real life. It has more meaning, more dramatic moments, and more emotion.
The Shootist, John Wayne’s last film, was about a “celebrity” of the times, a notorious gunfighter, who has cancer and plans to get away from it all to die. At the time of filming The Shootist, John Wayne had cancer and would die in 1979, three years after the film was made. Now that you know the behind-the-scenes story find out how much you know about the film itself. Take the quiz now, and then you can ride off into the sunset.
The Shootist had all the makings of an iconic, action-packed John Wayne film, from the gun battles to the saloons, to the brothels, and the beauty of the West. When you take this quiz will you recall the name of Book’s ex-girlfriend (Serepta)? How about the name of Bond Rogers’ son who was played by Ron Howard (Gillom Rogers). And I hope you recall Book’s horses’ name (Old Dollar)! Was that enough of a warm up? Then it’s time to take The Shootist trivia quiz by clicking the button below.
The horse is named Old Dollar and Books is very fond of him. He even requests a double portion of oats for him.
The movie takes place in January 1901. When Books rides into town, he is offered a newspaper and buys one, and the large headline announces the death of Queen Victoria.
The movie opens with J.B. Books riding into Carson City, a bustling town in Nevada. Despite being unwelcome by some because of his notoriety, Books is determined to stay there to die.
Books goes immediately to the office of Doc Hostetler, who has treated him previously for gunshot wounds. He wants a second opinion and it's not good news -- he is dying of cancer.
Books carries a red pillow with gold tassels. He tells Doc Hostetler that he stole it from a whore house.
Books does not want to give his real name although Bond insists on it, so he says he is William Hickok, a U.S. Marshall from Abilene, Kansas. Bond later learns he has given the name of Wild Bill Hickok.
Gillom asks where Moses has hidden the whiskey and finds it in a drawer. Then he proceeds to take a few swigs from the bottle, which his mother smells on his breath immediately.
While Gillom and Moses are getting Books' horse settled, they remove the saddle and find a surprise. Books' name is on the saddle, revealing his true identity.
Bond is irate when she learns that she has rented a room to the notorious gunman. She demands that he leave immediately before her other boarders find out, but he refuses to go, even offering to pay a higher fee for his room and board.
Marshall Thibido is no fan of Books. He drops the demand that he leave town after learning that Books does not have long to live, and even asks him to die faster. That's harsh.
Dobkins is a reporter for the Morning Appeal, the local newspaper. He hopes to write a series of stories about Books, but the gunman has no interest and literally kicks Dobkins off the porch.
Doc Hofsteter gives Books a bottle of laudanum, a powerful painkiller containing opium. Ironically, Books is concerned about becoming addicted, but the doctor assures him that even this drug will not be enough to ease his pain as his disease progresses.
As he faces his own mortality, Books becomes fascinated by the newspaper story of Victoria's death. He admires the fact that she never lost her dignity, even in her final days, and implies that he would like to follow suit.
When Books asks Bond to go for a buggy ride with him, she refuses at first. When he presses her, she finally says that she has only been widowed for a year and people might talk, but in the end she agrees to go.
Bond tells Books that her husband died of an apparent stroke. He was young -- in his early 40s -- and his death was a blow to both her and Gillom.
The local watering hole has the unlikely name, The Acme Saloon. It has a bit of a history, including a few gunfights.
Books might be on pain medication, but his instincts and reflexes are still sharp. When he spots two men about to enter his open window, he draws his gun and dispatches both of them, leaving his room a mess and causing Bond's other boarders to move out.
Knowing that Books is dying anyway, Gillom sells his horse to Moses for $100, hoping to offset some of the income his mother is losing when her other boarders move out. When he finds out, Books tells him he didn't get enough money for the horse.
As the two begin to bond, Gillom asks Books to give him shooting lessons. It turns out he doesn't need them, as he is already almost as accurate as Books.
Serepta is an old girlfriend Books has not seen for a long time. He is happy when she visits because he says he really loved her.
Books is surprised and touched when Serepta says she wants to marry him. He is less thrilled when she reveals that she wants to cooperate with Dobkins on a sensational book told from the perspective of Books' grieving widow, and much of it would be stories Dobkins simply makes up. Books shows her the door.
Books has no interest in attending church with Bond and Gillom. He says the mountains and solitude have always been his church.
Bond thinks Books might benefit from a talk with her minister, but he refuses. He tells her that death is a private matter and he is tired of people trying to interfere with his.
Books is finishing up at the barbershop when the undertaker comes in to talk with him. He offers Books a package of services, but Books instead asks the undertaker to pay him, realizing that the man is certain to profit from his death.
After books leaves his shop, the barber begins sweeping up his hair with the intention of selling it. Seeing an opportunity, he also sweeps up the hair from the previous customer. Who'll know the difference?
Books asks Gillom to deliver messages to three men, asking them to meet him at a local bar on January 29, a week after his arrival in town. One is the brother of someone he killed, one is a local casino owner and marksman, and one is Gillom's horrible boss.
When Books asks her to brush his suit, she tells him about a new dry cleaning process and he agrees to do it. He also gets a haircut and a fresh shave, and he burns the newspaper he has been reading diligently. These actions make Bond realize that he has made a decision and is about to take matters into his own hands.
The movie is narrated by Gillom, the son of Bond Rogers. The teenage boy befriends Books and is greatly influenced by him.
Unbeknownst to Gillom, Books has bought his prized horse back from Moses and he gives him to the boy. Gillom is reluctant, but Books insists that he accept.
On January 29, Books receives an unusual delivery. It is a headstone he has ordered. The engraving includes his name, the date of his birth, and the year of his death but not the exact date.
Books reveals that January 29 is his birthday and he orders a glass of the bartender's finest whiskey to celebrate. He's turning 58.
Books leaves Bond's house with his guns tucked away and his red pillow in hand. When he gets off at his stop, he gives it to the driver of the trolley to help make his job a little more comfortable.
Books has invited three men to meet him at the Metropole, a local saloon and casino. It is owned by Jack Pulford, one of the men he has summoned.
After Books kills the other three men, Gillom sees the bartender preparing to shoot him. He shouts a warning to Books, but it is too late. The bartender shoots Books in the back.
After killing the bartender who shot Books, Gillom looks at his pistol with disgust and tosses it away. Books gives him an approving look before he dies, then Gillom covers him with a jacket and leaves.