The Shootist, lobbycard, John Wayne, 1976. (Photo by LMPC via Getty Images)
Movies - TV
One Of Unforgiven's Most Memorable Scenes Was Inspired By John Wayne In The Shootist
Clint Eastwood and John Wayne may both be known as Western icons, but other than that the two don't have much in common. Wayne was a straightforward good guy representing American manliness while Eastwood’s characters were ambiguous antiheroes. Thus, it’s fitting that Wayne’s final film inspired an important scene in Eastwood’s “Unforgiven.”
“Unforgiven” follows Munny, a retired cowboy turned father on a mission to capture two criminals as his last act to make the world better for his children, while “The Shootist” follows Brooks, a dying cowboy who arranges one final shootout. There are clear similarities between Munny and Brooks, but the strongest similarity can be seen in one particular scene from each film.
In “The Shootist” there’s a scene in which Brooks, after getting shot in the back, says, “I’m just a dying man, scared of the dark.” This directly inspired a scene in “Unforgiven,” when Munny, after being beaten close to death, admits that he is scared of dying. While Munny doesn’t end up dying, it’s a great moment when Eastwood turns a classic Western trope on its head.
Speaking of the scene, “Unforgiven” screenwriter David Peoples recalled, “I just thought that no one had ever seen a tough guy like this be scared of dying unless it’s some kind of last-minute thing… and it was very much influenced by The Shootist.” Given the legendary status of both Eastwood and Wayne, it’s fitting that their careers should be tied in this subtle but important way.