Shane rides into a conflict between cattleman Ryker and a bunch of settlers, like the Starretts, whose land Ryker wants. When Shane beats up Ryker's man Chris, Ryker tries to buy him. Then Shane and Joe take on the whole Ryker crew. Ryker sends to Cheyenne for truly evil gunslinger Wilson. We wonder about Shane's relation to Joe's wife Marian. Shane must clear out all the guns from the valley before he can ride off with Joey hollering "Shane ... Shane ... Come Back!" Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Jean Arthur, then over 50, came out of semi-retirement to play Marian Starrett, largely as a favor to her friend, director George Stevens. She would retire completely from the film business after this picture. See more »
When Joe and Shane are being cared for by Marian, she prepares a
wet cloth and moves as if to put it on Shane's head, but in the next shot she is giving it to Joe. See more »
So much has been written over the years about SHANE; it's beautiful composition, its precise, if mechanical direction by George Stevens, and its good against evil theme, that there seems to be little left to say in the way of superlatives, but I will give it a try.
There are so many scenes in SHANE that standout as epic. They are like the jagged mountainscapes that dominate the picture: A young boy, slogging around in a marsh, aims his toy gun on a deer grazing on some grass stems, the deer lifts it's antlers and perfectly frames a lone rider approaching in the distance, a struggling family homestead held together by hard work, the father splitting wood, the mother baking in the kitchen, and always the mountains jutting upwards away off in the distance.
We have a stranger, lean and handsome, dressed in fringed buckskin. His dress and gun belt suggest something other than a farmer or rancher, yet we never really know, or ever know, of his past. He is kind and modest, and takes time to address the boy as though someone worth talking to, "You were watching me down the trail quite a spell, weren't you. I like a man who watches things going around.....He can make his mark someday." the boy smiles up at him, and an instant bond is formed, an idol worship in the making.
We have snickering, troublesome ranchhands who spend any free hours swilling whiskey at Graftons General Merchantile. "I thought I smelled pig. Which one of those tatter-pickers are you working for? Or are you just squattin' on the range?" this is the kind of menace that dogsany farmer who dares to come into town.
We have Shane, although trying to lead the simple life of farming, goaded into a fight by a sweaty-faced cowpoke (Ben Johnson). His bloodying of the cowpoke is like a violent ballet, graceful and cutting.
There is a meeting of the homesteaders, huddled together by lamplight, trying to solve there problems by resolving to go into town all together so that they would have strength in numbers. This is a rather sad scene since WE know that will be in vain.
There is touching elegance to the 4th of July celebration where there is fiddle music and dancing. Shane and Marion (the boy's mother) take a few turns to a reel..... dancing with others in the corral. Van Heflin (the Boy's father) is symbolically shut out beyond the fence. "Marion, they fenced me out" he grins. Yet we know that there is a growing affection between the two dancers.
There is tension in the late evening when the head of the ranchers pays visit to the homestead. "Look Starrett. When I come to this country you weren't much older than your boy there........ How would you like to go partners with me." It's sad because this is a real if clumsy attempt to "be reasonable" But as Shane would say on more than one occasion, "it's no use".
I could go on; the murder of the Stonewall at the hands of an especially evil hired gun from Cheyenne has great impact. And, the final confrontation at Graftons one fateful night, is one of the best in Westerns.
The characters are well developed and the story, while exiting, is a little melancholy.
The best Western ever made.
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