In the funeral scene, the dog consistently refused to look into the grave. Finally, director George Stevens had the dog's trainer lie down in the bottom of the grave, and the dog played his part ably. The coffin (loaded with rocks for appropriate effect) was then lowered into the grave, but when the harmonica player began to play "Taps" spontaneously, the crew was so moved by the scene that they began shoveling dirt into the grave before remembering the dog's trainer was still there.
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.
During the filming Jack Palance had problems with his horse. In the scene at the Starrett ranch where Alan Ladd (Shane) and Palance (Jack Wilson) first look each other over. Palance was to dismount for a minute then remount his horse. He could not remount, so the director had Jack dismount his horse slowly, then ran the film in reverse for the remount.
The film cost so much to make that at one point, Paramount considered selling it to another distributor. The studio felt the film would never earn back what it cost to make. It ended up making a significant profit.
According to the commentary on the DVD, during the scene where Shane and Joe are fighting in the corral, the tied horses were supposed to panic. To instill hysteria in the horses, the director had two men dressed in a bear costumes to scare them.
Alan Ladd was only 5'6", and this had to be compensated for. When he is in scenes with Van Heflin the two are about the same height, although Heflin was far taller. When Ladd is shown with Jean Arthur he is perhaps a bit taller than she. When Heflin is shown with her, Heflin is far taller than she.
Meticulous care was taken at all levels of production. All the physical props were true to the period, the buildings were built to the specifications of the time and the clothing was completely authentic. Director George Stevens even had somewhat scrawny-looking cattle imported from other areas, as the local herds looked too well-fed and healthy.
In the face-off between Wilson (Jack Palance) and Torrey (Elisha Cook Jr., Torrey tells Wilson that he is "a low-down, lyin' Yankee". Although director George Stevens kept directing Palance at this point to smile--an expression of amused contempt at Cook--Palance continued take after take to show too much menace and not enough of a smile mixed in. Finally Stevens took Cook aside and whispered something to him. During the next take, Cook read his line, and added "and a son of a bitch, too!" This time, Stevens got his take. When Shane faces Wilson, Shane says, "You're a low-down Yankee liar".
The scenes of Joey chasing after Shane when he rides off to the final battle, and the classic subsequent "come back Shane!" scene happen in the dead of night in the film (in a day for night style), but in the accompanying trailer on current home video releases, the scenes are shown happening during broad daylight.
Jean Arthur, a committed animal lover, took it upon herself to personally inspect the conditions that the film's roster of livestock were being kept in. If they weren't up to her satisfaction, she would ensure that the matter was rectified.
The first flat widescreen color Western. Although shot in 1.37:1 Academy ratio, the studio dictated that it be cropped in the movie projector to compete with the new CinemaScope format. The music was also recorded in stereo.
The background music played when Shane walks into the bar for the final confrontation with Ryker and Wilson is the exact same music played in The Glass Key (1942) and also starring Alan Ladd. The music and rhythmic drum beating occur during two different scenes, one early on in the film when Ladd confronts several villains and then later on in the film, again during a confrontation with them.
Shane's fancy gun twirling in the climactic showdown was actually performed by Rodd Redwing. Earlier, when Shane demonstrates his prowess for Joey, and it is clearly Alan Ladd himself on camera, the actor had been given a different, easier-to-use revolver for the scene.
Although the movie is generally remembered for its blue sky vistas, the weather was actually cloudy or rainy for a great deal of the shoot. However, if you look beyond the mud in the town, you can see that the ground is dry. Obviously, part of the town had been watered down.