The Shootist

  • Directors: Don Siegel
  • Producers: M J Frankovich, William Self
  • Writers: Glendon Swarthout, Scott Hale, Miles Hood Swarthout
  • Genres: Drama, Western
  • Actors: John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Harry Morgan, Ron Howard, James Stewart

The Shootist tells the story of John Bernard (J.B.) Books (John Wayne) (born January, 29, 1843), an aging gunfighter, the most celebrated “shootist” extant, who is struggling with terminal prostate cancer. The movie begins with a clip montage of some of Wayne’s earlier western movies. Although Books is perceived by some of the characters as an amoral opportunist, he expresses his simple creed when he says, “I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, and I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.” Arriving in El Paso, Texas (Carson City, Nevada in the movie) in 1901, Books seeks the second medical opinion of an old friend, Doc E. W. Hostetler (Jimmy Stewart).

Once Hostetler confirms the presence of the cancer, Books rents a room from the widow ‘Bond’ (“that’s a crackerjack of a name for a woman”) Rogers (Lauren Bacall), and her son Gillom Rogers (Ron Howard). Books’ presence in town is soon known to most, and the news spreads by telegraph throughout the country. This results in the arrival of troublemakers to lure Books back to his past. Not only does he have to deal with his inevitable death, but he has to deal with the vultures who come to profit from his infamy. Having never had trouble facing death in other men, Books now struggles with the fact that death is calling on him. On his 58th birthday, January 29, 1901 he confronts the three men, offering to settle an outstanding score, and they meet in an empty saloon, where he kills Mike Sweeney, Jack Pulford and Jay Cobb. Then the bartender shoots Books and in return Gillom shoots him, throws the gun away and walks out of the saloon and down the street.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

  • Directors: Don Siegel
  • Producers: Walter Wanger
  • Writers: Novel, Jack Finney, Screenplay, Daniel Mainwaring, Uncredited, Richard Collins
  • Genres: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, King Donovan, Carolyn Jones, Larry Gates

Set in the fictional town of Santa Mira, California (actually shot in Sierra Madre), the plot centers on Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy), a local doctor, who finds a rash of patients accusing their loved ones of being impostors. Another patient is a former sweetheart of his; recent divorceé Becky Driscoll (Dana Wynter), who tells him that her cousin, Wilma, has this same strange fear about Uncle Ira.

Assured at first by the town psychiatrist Dr. Dan Kaufman (Larry Gates), that the cases are nothing but “epidemic mass hysteria”, Bennell soon discovers, with the help of his friend Jack Belicec (King Donovan), that the townspeople are in fact being replaced by simulations grown from plantlike pods; perfect physical duplicates who kill and dispose of their human victims. The Pod People are indistinguishable from normal people, except for their utter lack of emotion. The pod people work together to secretly spread more pods — which grew from “seeds drifting through space for years” — in order to replace the entire human race.

The film climaxes with Bennell and Driscoll attempting to escape the pod people, intending to warn the rest of humanity. They hide; Driscoll falls asleep and is subverted. With the pod people close behind, a seemingly crazed Bennell runs onto the highway frantically screaming of the alien force which has overrun Santa Mira to the passing motorists and (in a moment that is considered a breaking of the 4th wall) looks into the camera and yells, “They’re here already! You’re next!!!”

Dirty Harry

  • Directors: Don Siegel
  • Producers: Don Siegel
  • Writers: Story, Harry Julian Fink, R M Fink, Screenplay, Harry Julian Fink, R M Fink, Dean Riesner, Uncredited, John Milius, Terrence Malick
  • Genres: Action, Crime, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Clint Eastwood, Harry Guardino, Reni Santoni, John Vernon, Andy Robinson

A serial killer who calls himself “Scorpio” (Andy Robinson) murders a young woman in a San Francisco high-rise rooftop swimming pool using a high-powered sniper rifle from the top of the 555 California Street skyscraper. The spent shell casing is found on the roof of another high-rise across the street by Inspector Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood); it’s accompanied by a ransom message from the Scorpio Killer, promising more deaths if the city does not pay him $100,000. The chief of police, with the agreement of the Mayor (John Vernon), assigns Harry to the case and arranges for extra support.

As he waits for his lunch in a local cafe, Harry notices a robbery is taking place and tells the cafe owner to call the police and report an armed robbery in progress. While he waits for reinforcements, the robbers emerge from the bank, shooting wildly into the bank, forcing Harry to act. He confronts a robber in the street, who fires a shotgun at him. Harry returns fire, sending the robber sprawling to the ground. Another robber makes it into the getaway car, which the driver aims at Harry as he pulls away. Harry fires at the car, causing the driver to lose control and crash into a fire hydrant. Harry turns back to the robber he shot earlier, approaches the wounded man (Albert Popwell), and utters his famous line:

Harry watches as Scorpio’s body floats on the surface of the water. He takes out his inspector’s badge, and hurls it into the water, walking away.