Plot: What’s it about?
He used to be a bounty hunter, but now Gashade (Warren Oates) is a simple goldminer and along with partner, seeks to hit it big and make a nice living for himself. The realm of mining for gold might not be as exciting as being a bounty hunter, but it is a good bet to say it’s a whole lot safer in the end. That is what Gashade thinks also, until his partner is killed in cold blood, which leaves him with a taste for revenge. So he decides to resume his old tricks once more, but this time it isn’t money, no this time the hunt is personal. But he knows that even with his skills in the trade, he will need some help and that’s just what he soon finds. He is joined by a beautiful woman (Millie Perkins) and a pair of cowboys (Jack Nicholson & Will Hutchins), all of whom have agreed to help him track down the killer and take revenge for his partner’s death. But why do all these folks agree to help each other? Is there more to these relationships than meets the eye?
This movie was made at the same time as another western, Ride In The Whirlwind and while I love that motion picture, I just really like this one. Both were made on the same budget, same locations, same director, pretty much the same cast, and at the same time, but the two are distant relatives at best. I like this movie a lot, but I find it to be harder to recommend than the other, perhaps due to the slow pace and somewhat overly complex storyline. I am all in favor of rich, complex writing, but I think this film sometimes loses the viewers too often, which isn’t good. If you can take the time to watch and pay attention though, all the details should be clear enough for you to understand. Some get it the first time, some a second or third time, and some simply never understand this movie. This isn’t helped much by the minimal dialogue, as we learn little about the characters from their talking. But in the end, I think this is a terrific non traditional western, one that fans of Nicholson, Hellman, and the western genre simply cannot afford to miss. And since VCI Home Video has issued an excellent disc, what better chance to view this film than on our beloved format?
As you browse the credits for this movie, you’ll notice several famous names, but the most famous of them is Jack Nicholson. Nicholson (One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest) is considered to be among the very best in modern actors, as he has impressed us time and again with his skills in front of the camera. He has played a wide scope of characters in his career and his films are sought out, but his work here is too often overlooked. I know this film has amassed a following over the years, but I think Nicholson’s turn in The Shooting deserves more than a simple mention. As usual, Nicholson plays a rather unique role in this movie, but he seems much more controlled and subtle here, which has been lacking in his more recent performances. His work is almost always good, but it is refreshing to see him in something so different from his modern works. This might have years before he broke into the major leagues, but even back then he was a superb actor and that work should be looked at as well. The cast here also includes Millie Perkins (Wall Street), Warren Oates (The Wild Bunch), and Will Hutchins (Clambake). The director of The Shooter is Monte Hellman, who also helmed such films as Two-Lane Blacktop, Ride In The Whirlwind, and Cockfighter.
Video: How does it look?
The Shooting is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. If you just look at the included transfer, you would have no idea this was a low budget film that is over thirty years old. Aside from some grain evident in the darker scenes, this is one amazing visual presentation and fans of the film will be awestruck. This is a very dark film, but the black levels never sputter and deliver well balanced & well detailed shadows. As I mentioned, some grain can be seen in the darker sequences, but nothing to become worried about. The colors retain a natural look, which fits this movie quite well. I was impressed by how clean the source print also, I saw minimal marks & debris. VCI Home Video has given this movie the transfer it deserved and I hope to see more releases of this level soon.
Audio: How does it sound?
There isn’t much to talk about in this section, as to say this film uses minimal audio is an understatement. I love the musical score for this movie and since it sounds great here, I am one happy camper. The music is the most prominent element of the audio for this film, so I am pleased it has turned out this well. I don’t think sound effects play much of a part in this movie in the end, as all of them are either minor ones or background noise. But they sound fine in this mix, which is all that matters to me. I was able to hear all the dialogue in fine form also, no serious issues at all to contend with. This track won’t shatter your speakers, but it does just what it should and that’s make the movie sound good.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer, some talent files, a selection of still photos, and an audio commentary track. The commentary features director Monte Hellman and star Millie Perkins, as well as the moderator, Dennis Bartok. This track is loaded with information, but if you want the whole scoop on The Shooting (and Ride In The Whirlwind), you’ll want to listen to the track included on Ride In The Whirlwind’s disc as well.