John Wayne stars as J.B. Brooks, the last of the legendary shootists who returns to Carson City for a physical examination by his old friend and doctor (James Stewart).
When it is confirmed he is terminally ill with cancer, he sets out to spend his final days under an assumed name in the local boarding house run by Bond Rogers (Lauren Bacall) and her son Gillom (Ron Howard of Happy Days fame).
But word soon leaks out about his identity and illness, and many residents – ranging from the local gunslinger to the town barber – plan to exploit the shootist’s myth before he dies.
In a shoot-out climax, five men die; four with shame and one with great honour.
John Wayne looks at home in his chaps, as always. Ironically, he died of cancer himself only three years after playing the ailing gunfighter.
Richard Boone plays a crusty ranch owner who hates Brooks for killing his brother; John Carradine is his usual morbid self as the town undertaker eager to display Brooks’ dead body, and Scatman Crothers provides humour as a good-natured stable owner. Harry Morgan (of TV’s M*A*S*H) nicely plays a sheriff who is happy to hear of Brooks’ disease.
The film was Wayne’s last and ended a career dating back to the silent film era.