The Shootist

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Details At A Glance

Category Western Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1976 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 95 minutes Other Extras Cast & Crew Biographies
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 4 Director Don Siegel
Force Video
Starring John Wayne
Lauren Bacall
Jimmy Stewart
Ron Howard
RRP $34.95 Music  

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital 1.0
16x9 Enhancement None Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1    
Macrovision ?    
Subtitles None    

Plot Synopsis

    The Shootist is the story of the legendary gunfighter J. B. Books (John Wayne) who is now old, and tired, and has discovered he has cancer and does not have long to live. He wants to live out the rest of his days in small-town Culver City, Nevada, in a guesthouse run by Mrs Bond Rogers (Lauren Bacall), but the townsfolk won't let him. His reputation precedes him, and many people want him dead. He manages to stay alive for a time, but then comes up with a plan to "go out with a bang", so to speak.

    Scattered good moments fail to lift this otherwise ho hum Western out of slow boredom. Indeed, both John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart (Dr Hostetler) seem past their prime, and Jimmy Stewart in particular seems to have problems forgetting his lines. Of some historical note, a very young Ron Howard has a role as Gillam Rogers, Bond Rogers' son.

Transfer Quality

    The Shootist is one of the first two releases from Force Video in Australia. Dune was the other disc, and was atrocious. The Shootist, whilst not a great video transfer, is at least borderline acceptable.


    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, i.e. Pan & Scan. This movie does not suffer too badly from the Pan & Scan treatment, probably because the original aspect ratio was 1.85:1.

    Several significant artefacts are present in the video stream; at 2:29 and 46:36.

    The transfer was reasonably clear and sharp, and certainly far more so than Dune. Contrast was acceptable, with reasonably rendered blacks. Shadow detail was lacking, but this was a characteristic of the Technicolor process that was used to make this film. Low level noise was not a major problem with this transfer, unlike Dune which was affected severely by noise. I did not see any reel change marks, so either these were cut out by the Pan & Scan process, or the source for this transfer was an interpositive. Either way, this transfer is far more acceptable than the one used for Dune.

    The colour saturation was muted, but consistent from one scene to the next, so overall I was quite happy with this aspect of the transfer. A few places exhibited some chroma noise, with false colour being introduced into the picture, such as at 50:49 - 51:04, however this was not of serious concern.

    One significant area of MPEG artefacting is seen at 9:08, where the picture is littered with MPEG artefact blocks for a single frame. Other than this, MPEG artefacts seemed few and far between.

    The major film-to-video artefact in this transfer was aliasing, which was frequently present, but fortunately never bad enough to be anything but slightly distracting. Film artefacts were present at an acceptable level given the age of this film.


    There is a single audio audio track on this DVD, English Dolby Digital 1.0. The disc correctly bears the appropriate Dolby Digital symbol. The DVD casing incorrectly displays the Dolby Digital 2.0 symbol.

    The dialogue is reasonably clear and easy to hear, though there is not a lot of competition from music or sound effects. A moderate amount of hiss is present in the soundtrack, but this is not particularly troublesome.

    The music is limited, and of a routine melodramatic orchestral nature. It was unremarkable.

     The surround channels were not used.

    The .1 channel was not used.


    There are only a few extras on this disc.


    The menu design on the disc is very straightforward, and relatively good looking and intuitive to use.

Cast & Crew Biographies

    Cast & Crew biographies are the only extras on this disc. They have an irritating habit of listing filmographies as "Shootist, The 1976" rather than "The Shootist 1976" but are otherwise reasonably complete and interesting.


    The Shootist is a mediocre movie on a mediocre but acceptable DVD. If you want to see John Wayne or Jimmy Stewart both beyond their prime, take a look at this movie.

    The video quality is acceptable, but only just.

    The audio quality is acceptable for a monophonic soundtrack.

    The extras are limited.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
14th January 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 4:3 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer