Shoot Out

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Shoot Out
Shoot Out 1971.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Henry Hathaway
Written by Will James (novel "The Lone Cowboy"), Marguerite Roberts (screenplay)
Starring Gregory Peck
Music by Dave Grusin
Cinematography Earl Rath
Edited by Archie Marshek
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
October 13, 1971[1]
Running time
95 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1.19 million[1]

Shoot Out is a 1971 western film directed by Henry Hathaway. It stars Gregory Peck and Patricia Quinn.[2] The film is adapted from Will James's 1930 novel, The Lone Cowboy.[1] The film was produced, directed, and written by the team that delivered the Oscar-winning film True Grit.[1]

This was the second-to-last of the 65 films directed by Hathaway.


Clay Lomax gets out of prison after serving nearly eight years. He goes looking for Sam Foley, a bank robber who shot Lomax in the back and left him to take the rap.

Learning of his release, Foley hires a trio of young gun-thugs - Pepe, Skeeter, and Bobby Jay Jones - to follow him and let him know when Lomax is close to reaching him. Foley orders them not to shoot or kill him. Lomax locates an old friend, Trooper, and offers him all the money he has in the world, $200, for the name of the town where Foley is staying. The trio of gun-thugs catch up to Lomax at Trooper's saloon and force Alma, one of Trooper's whores, to spend the night with all three of them while they monitor Lomax.

A woman named Teresa Ortega has been keeping Lomax's money for him, so he sends for her. When the train arrives, the conductor tells Lomax of a girl of age 6 called Decky and that she is to accompany him. The brakeman tells Lomax that a woman did accompany the child but she died en route. Lomax acquiesces and takes charge of Decky and the brakeman gives him the money - accepting the child being a condition of receiving it. Lomax asks Decky if she has a father and learns that Decky only knows what Teresa told her - that her father was a hell of a man. He takes the money to Trooper while he searches for someone to take care of the child during his mission of revenge. Lomax tries to fob the child off on to teachers, preachers, and others, but no one will take her, so Decky accompanies him on the search. When the gun-thugs rough up Alma, Trooper tries to defend her but is killed; they rob the saloon and take Lomax's money and Alma as they follow Lomax.

Lomax discovers the dying Trooper and the barkeep tells him that Gun Hill is where Lomax needs to go.

During the journey, Lomax and Decky bond while Lomax obtains a pony for the girl. One night, the gun-thugs alert Lomax to their presence when Bobby Jay shoots his rifle. Lomax disarms the men and takes their weapons. As they're told not to hinder him, only watch him, he tells them to run to Foley and tell him he's coming.

A rain storm drives Lomax and Decky to take shelter at the house of a woman named Juliana. She offers to watch the little girl as she believes that Lomax would come back for her. Lomax asks if she believes Decky is his daughter - she says it's possible, the way they act. Juliana says she's been a lonely widow for a while and Lomax could find a welcome home with her. As they embrace, Jones and his partners arrive and take them prisoner. Jones gets drunk and amuses himself by shooting objects, ala William Tell, off Decky's head after knocking out a protesting Lomax.

Alma turns on Jones and he shoots her. Lomax convinces Skeeter that Pepe (sent to get the horses) has run off to Foley, leaving the two men alone with him. Skeeter and Lomax struggle and Bobby Jay shoots Skeeter in the back while they grapple. He grabs Decky and flees the house and finds Pepe. Pepe insults Bobby Jay and is killed; Decky takes her chance and escapes. Bobby Jay goes to Foley for his money, but when Foley draws a gun from the safe, Jones is too quick and kills him.

Jones is enjoying his money when Lomax gets the drop on him. Lomax forces him to place various objects on his head and shoots them off. A terrified Bobby Jay confesses he has no idea where the girl is, only that she ran off when he was occupied with Pepe. Lomax makes Jones prove just how fast he is supposed to be. A cartridge is placed on top of Jones's head and Lomax tells him either the cartridge will explode and kill him or Bobby Jay will kill Lomax. Bobby Jay tries to outdraw Lomax but can't and he is shot dead. Lomax leaves the money and tells the maid to call the law.

The last scene is of a relieved Lomax riding back to Decky at Juliana's house; they walk to the house and she asks him again if he's her father.



After filming I Walk the Line, Gregory Peck was looking for a successful film as a follow-up. Believing teaming with the director of True Grit, Henry Hathaway, along with the same producer (Hal B. Willis) and screenwriter (Marguerite Roberts), would bring similar success, Peck started filming the project in 1970. As the film even followed a similar path - teaming a crusty gunfighter with a young girl for a companion - Peck deferred his usual salary for a percentage of the profits of the film. This allowed the production to come in on a tight budget of $1.19 million.[1]

The film was shot on location in Santa Fe-Los Alamos area of New Mexico between October 12 and December 2, 1970. Production wrapped on December 16.[1]


Box office[edit]

The film was released in America on October 13, 1971.[1] It was released in Sweden on August 16, 1971.

Critical reception[edit]

The film received negative reviews from a number of critics, especially in light of the blatant repetition of the formula seen in the earlier John Wayne film. Michael Kerbel from the Village Voice wrote that Shoot Out did have some semblance of True Grit, "'but the humor and charm are missing and what remains - a predictable revenge story - becomes tiresome.'"[3] Others remarked about the slump in Gregory Peck's career: Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the film "served 'mostly as a glum reminder of the inadequate use'" of the Hollywood star, [4] while Paine Knickerbocker of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote "'Peck, m'boy, what the hell are you doing here?'"[4]

Home media release[edit]

The film was released on DVD on October 1, 2002.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Gary Fishgall (2002). Gregory Peck: A Biography. New York, NY: Scribner. p. 274. 
  2. ^ "Shoot Out (1971) - Trailers, Reviews, Synopsis, Showtimes and Cast". AllMovie. Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  3. ^ Gary Fishgall (2002). Gregory Peck: A Biography. New York, NY: Scribner. p. 274-5. 
  4. ^ a b Gary Fishgall (2002). Gregory Peck: A Biography. New York, NY: Scribner. p. 275. 
  5. ^ "Shoot Out (1971) - Releases". AllMovie. Retrieved 2014-01-26. 

External links[edit]