Monte Hellman’s classic cult western was filmed simultaneously with “Ride the Whirlwind.” “The Shooting” was written by Jack Nicholson and Adrien Joyce (who wrote “Five Easy Pieces” for Nicholson). It won rave reviews at both the Montreal film festival and Cannes, but was unable to find a domestic company willing to distribute the film. After being shelved for a few years, the film was shown in limited screenings on the heels of the success of “Easy Rider.” It’s reputation grew from there primarily by word-of-mouth.
In “The Shooting”, Nicholson play’s Billy Spear, a mysterious gunman hired to escort a woman (Millie Perkins) across the desert. On the way they encounter a bounty hunter in search of his twin brother. He joins Nicholson and Perkins on their trip, but as the temperature rises, so do the tensions between them. When Gashade, played by Warren Oats, finds his twin brother high up in a near by mountain establishment its too late for him to save his life. Perkins mission across the desert was to murder Oats’ brother for reason’s unknown. Ultimately leading to a violent confrontation and what could be known as cinema’s most obscure ending.
Although its quite a strange film, "The Shooting" really gives Jack Nicholson a chance to define his tough guy persona. As the fastest and cruelest gunman in the west, Nicholson doesn't have to try hard to deliver. This film is sure to please those fans of excellent cult cinema and is currently available on a 1.85:1 anamorphically enhanced dvd via VCI home video.