Shane (1953) Poster

(1953)

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10/10
An immensely beautiful film, turned into a classic!
Nazi_Fighter_David19 August 2001
Warning: Spoilers
'Shane' is not a Western like Howard Hawk's 'Red River', nor a meditation on history and character like John Ford's "The Searchers." It is the most tasteful achievement ever invented to create a legend, an instant myth... Only Stevens' meticulously picturesque visuals and his evident desire to treat Western as art, could have mastered the archetypal simplicity and vitality of 'Shane.'

In 'Shane,' the good and evil govern Stevens' mastery of technique... With his golden good looks, his calm authority, and his almost magical magnetism, Alan Ladd is the mysterious lone rider called Shane... His antithesis – a sinister figure all in sable – and enemy, a merciless gunfighter from the Cheyenne area, named Jack Wilson (Jack Palance).

Wilson is dark, dresses in black, and even drinks black coffee from a dark black pot... Shane sparkles with personality and presence... Wilson spreads menace and evil... Shane is 'the fastest gun alive' who shoots to kill only when it is inevitable... Wilson - wearing two guns, and walking with jangling spurs - is a psychopath and a sadist, a man totally without moral redemption...

The film controls that mystical force that runs like a fine thread through a Western story - the mysterious gunslinger who rides into town at exactly the right moment that history requires him, fulfills his destiny and then rides on...

There is novelty and charm in 'Shane' because the stranger, who appears from nowhere, is a man of exceptional quality, admired by a wonderful kid with bright face and resolute boyish ways... Shane tests the spirit of this little eight year-old boy, Joey Starrett (Brandon De Wilde) in the midst of all the tensions and excitements on that open range...

What is admirable about Shane is not his skill with his gun, but his restraint in using it... Shane knows that Joey is admiring him for the wrong reasons— even though he knows that if he kills Wilson, he'll have to leave the valley... He tells Joey: 'There's no living with a killing.' However we want him to show Joey how brave and fast he is... The ultimate confrontation in that depressed and faint saloon gives the movie the quality of a fine album of paintings of the frontier...

Joey's plaintive call ('Come back, Shane') is the famous cry of all the audience for a mythical idolized hero so complete and correct, who would not permit himself to be admired by a boy for living by the gun... The closing scenes remain among the most haunting memories in the history of cinema...

The characters that Stevens' actors have drawn might be considered portraits of familiar frontier types:

  • Marian Starrett (Jean Arthur) is the mother who criticizes Shane for initiating her young boy into young manhood by passing on his values... She is the little woman unsettled who always wanders: 'What are you fighting for? She is the married woman who reveals an unspoken love...


  • Joe Starrett (Van Heflin), is the stubborn father and a hard working rancher determined, with his forcible patience and fortitude, to build a life on the land for his family...


  • Rufus Ryker (Emile Meyer) is the evil aging cattle rancher who considers the arrival of homesteaders is reducing grazing opportunities for his herds limiting their access to water... He does everything to rid the land of the humble farmers...


  • Morgan Ryker (John Dierkes) is Rufus' brother/foreman, who invites Starrett to "talk" reasonably...


  • Chris Calloway (Ben Johnson) is the authentic cowboy who has had a change of heart and has quit Ryker's bunch... He warns Shane in the barn that "Starrett is up against a stacked deck."


  • Frank 'Stonewall' Torrey (Elisha Cook Jr.) is the pale-eyed pathetic local farmer who, in a fit of fury and mad courage, attempts to challenge his tormentor... But an outraged amateur can never beat an accomplished professional... He is brutally gunned down in the first shocking and horrific showdown on the Western screen... Palance toys with the little man and kills him in one of the most realistic scenes staged until that time...


"Shane" is an immensely beautiful film, stunningly photographed in color, rich in memorable and exhilarating moments... Every scene is composed with extreme care:

  • The deer will raise its head and frame the oncoming rider perfectly between the branches of his antlers...


  • Shane's first appearance descending into a majestic valley rimmed by mountains, shining a pearl-handled 'six-shooter' gun...


  • Shane friendship with Joe Starrett, cemented that evening as together they swing axes in common task to cut and pull up a large tree stump...


  • Their energy battle (filmed through the windows of the cabin and through the frantic, kicking hooves of horses disturbed by their vicious struggle) to determine who will go to town to face Ryker's hired gun...


  • Shane slow ride into town for a showdown... The low tracking camera angle, the darkness, and the musical soundtrack emphasize Shane's heroic yet lonely position on the horizon, set among the wide view of the mountains...


Certainly "Shane" is a romantic film, and yet it is full of integrity about time and place... It may be interesting to compare the idealized interest, attraction and love between Shane and Marion with the unspoken love between John Wayne and Dorothy Jordan in 'The Searchers.' In the latter film, Dorothy caresses Wayne's army cape and is observed by Ward Bond, who simply notices her gesture and looks away... In 'Shane', Marion implies her love for Shane as she cautions her son Joey about becoming attached to him...

In "Shane," Stevens combined so many elements that are 'classically' required and combines them so well… He directed 'Shane' with great feeling, and turned it into a classic...
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10/10
Much More Than a Western
T-Boy-310 July 1999
"Shane" should be required viewing for anyone setting out to make a film. It tells its story visually, through subtext, and creates a realistic portrait of people; it is also emotionally and morally complex. It is never stated that Shane had been a gunfighter; we just understand this, from his appearance and from what we glean through the dialogue. Likewise, there are no overt moments of intimacy between Shane and Marion (Mrs. Starrett), but we are aware that there is a deep attraction between them. When Joe, Marian's husband, realizes it, it is not because of anything he states, just a line at the 4th of July party, when Marian (in her wedding dress) is dancing with Shane: "Looks like I'm fenced out," and what is spoken as a joke becomes serious as we watch the expression on his face. The closest he comes to actually saying anything is toward the end, when he's going to ride into town to face Ryker, and tells Marian that if anything happens to him he knows she'll be taken care of. Likewise, at the end of the film, when little Joey is calling across the plains for Shane to "come back," he yells to Shane, "Mother wants you, I know she does," and the words echo back, we see a close up of Joey, his expression changing, and we know the child realizes too that Shane does (or could) mean something more to his mother.

Stevens also didn't make the "bad guys" black-and-white villains. We understand that these men fought and tamed the land and are now being displaced by the homesteaders. What they want might not be fair, but it is not completely unreasonable either.

Most of the scenes, even the simple ones, play in montage. It looks as though Stevens shot each scene from about 15 different angles and edited them together. The effect is striking.

Far and away one of the best films ever.
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10/10
A masterpiece of filmmaking
FlickJunkie-25 April 2000
Often mentioned as one of the greatest westerns ever, it is easy to see why. This film stands as a masterpiece of the art, even more so since it was filmed so long ago. It starts with a great story, the story of Shane (Alan Ladd), a quiet gunslinger who is trying to escape his past and befriends a pioneer family who have settled out west. He attempts to settle down and become a hired hand to Joe Starrett (Van Heflin) and his wife Marian (Jean Arthur), but the ranchers who need to drive cattle through the homesteader's property are attempting to drive them out. Shane tries to stay out of the disputes, but keeps being drawn in and is finally compelled to put his six shooter back on when the ranchers hire Jack Wilson (Jack Palance) a noted gunfighter to intimidate the farmers.

This story is outstanding in so many ways. It is a classic battle of good and evil. It has its share of fist fights and shoot outs, but this film is more about principles than action. It exemplifies principles and values that unfortunately have become outdated in today's society such as, character, integrity, loyalty, pride in accomplishment, persistence and the willingness to fight for what is right. It is also an excellent human interest story and succeeds in getting the viewer to love the homesteaders and hate the ranchers.

George Stevens directed this film late in a notable career and does a splendid job. The locations were breathtaking, shot with majestic mountains in the background of almost every scene. The cinematography was stunning, and the color rich despite the fact that it was filmed almost 50 years ago.

The acting was superlative. Van Heflin wins us over almost immediately with his high minded principles and unshakeable character. He actually has far more lines than Ladd, who was more of an icon of strength than a vocal character. Jack Palance is the archetypal western villain and went on in his career to become the most prominent and enduring villain in movie history. His sneering arrogance and haughty gait made him the villain we loved to hate for decades.

Elisha Cook, as Stonewall Torrey, had a prolific career as a supporting actor, with over 150 appearances in film an TV that spanned almost 60 years. This is one of his best an most memorable roles as a fearless, proud and petulant former confederate that gets goaded into a gunfight with Jack Palance.

Brandon DeWilde as young Joey, gave a compelling performance. One of the best scenes in the movie was when he asked Shane to shoot at a small rock and Shane shot it 5 or 6 times and hit it every time. The wide eyed look of surprise was terrific. Though he went on to do about a dozen mostly minor films, he was never able to capitalize on his success in this role.

Finally, there is Alan Ladd. I've often heard criticisms of his performance of being too low key. I could not disagree more. His understated performance made him loom large as an imposing figure in the film. It created an almost godlike presence. This strong silent portrayal is very attractive adding humility to his many positive qualities. This unassuming style is also what made Gary Cooper so popular.

This film is on my top fifty list of all time. It is a magnum opus that the film industry can be proud of. It combines great filmmaking, direction and acting with a memorable and morally instructive story. This should be required viewing for any serious film buff. A perfect 10.
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9/10
A touching western with awesome cinematography.
Fella_shibby23 August 2017
I first saw this in the early 90s. Revisited it recently on a DVD which i own. When you love a western, it's a film like Shane that you go back to time and time again. Everything has already been said about this great film n there seems to be little left to say but as a fan of western films, lemme contribute by praising how good this film is. The single greatest asset is the wonderful cinematography. The mountains, the lakes, the hills, farms n houses all looked straight outta poetry n painting. Loyal Griggs did an amazing work with the film's cinematography. The story is about a mysterious gunfighter (Alan Ladd) who helps a farming family against cattle barons wanting the farmers land. Jack Palance in a role of pure malevolence with his evil smirk n few dialogues. George Stevens' direction is truly stunning. He made a very touching film. This film has contributed a lot towards the western genre.
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10/10
Shane is a beautifully photographed film with excellent performances.
Slim-416 January 1999
Shane is an awesome film. Loyal Griggs' cinematography uses the Grand Teton Mountains as a scenic backdrop in framing a simple story of ranchers vs. homesteaders in early Wyoming. Alan Ladd stars as the enigmatic gunfighter named Shane. Ladd has seldom been better. He sides with a homesteader family (Van Heflin, Jean Arthur and Brandon DeWilde) against local ranchers named Ryker (Elisha Meyer and John Dierkes). The Rykers hire a gunfighter (Jack Palance) from Cheyenne to drive off the homesteaders. Shane tries to put down his gun and start a new life, but the plot inevitably forces him to a fateful climax with the Rykers and the hired gun.

The film has a darkly realistic look. Grafton's saloon is dark and moody, far different from the brightly lit and colorful dance halls in other Westerns. The film is alternately bright and dark. The sadistic killing of the homesteader by the gunfighter is a dark moment even though it occurs in broad daylight. Director George Stevens took advantage of an afternoon thunderstorm and plenty of mud to make one of the most memorable scenes in the movie. The thunder provides an appropriate backdrop to the confrontation between Torrey (Elisha Cook, Jr.) and the gunfighter. This is little more than an execution and the gunfighter goes about his business with a cool, detached professionalism. Although small, Jack Palance's performance as the gunfighter from Cheyenne is one of the most memorable in the film.

Shane's background provides plenty of questions but few answers. "Where will you go", Marian Starret (Jean Arthur) asks. "One place or another. ..someplace I've never been," Shane says. All we know is that he's a gunfighter. It becomes clear that he knows about gunfighting. He's even heard of the gunfighter hired by Ryker. Chris Calloway (Ben Johnson) and another cowboy are playing cards in Grafton's saloon when Shane walks in. Calloway starts to pick a fight. The other man gets up and says "Deal me out. . .Let's just say I'm superstitious." Does he know Shane? More than likely he does, but we'll never know for sure. Shane's mysteriousness is one of the film's strengths.

This is a film about personal relationships. Shane and Joe Starret (Van Heflin) become friends. The relationship between Shane and Marian Starret defies description. Is it love? Respect? Whatever it is, it becomes clear in the late moments of the film that her husband has observed it, too. There is also a close bond between Shane and Little Joe Starret (Brandon DeWilde). The film is told through the eyes of the boy.

This is a film about good and evil, but good and evil sometimes overlap. Jack Palance represents evil. His black hat, black gloves and black vest leave little doubt which side he's on. The Rykers are bad, but they are not all bad. Rufe (Emile Meyer) tries to make a deal with Starret and speaks with sincerity and feeling about his right to the range. The homesteaders are good, but one of them, Torrey, is a hot head. Shane is a good guy. Or is he? Marian Starret tells him in one memorable scene that she won't be happy until all the guns are out of the valley--"even yours". Shane realizes this. Despite his attempts to start a new life, he tells Brandon DeWilde after the final showdown at Grafton's: "Tell your mother that there are no more guns in the valley."

The image of death stalks through this film in many forms. The scene where the gunfighter rides into town makes it clear that he is the messenger of death. Shane tells Marian Starret that "a gun is a tool", but she knows that it is an engine of death. "Guns aren't going to be my boys life," she says. The scene where Shane shows Little Joe how to shoot demonstrates the power of the gun. The shooting of the homesteader in the dark, muddy street is followed by his burial in a cemetery on a bright, sunny day set against the grandeur of the mountains. In the final frame Shane rides out of the valley and through that same cemetery. Death once again rides a horse.

I really enjoy Victor Young's musical score. The opening melody, "Call of the Faraway Hills", has been frequently recorded and is only a little less familiar than "The Magnificent Seven". It is unfortunate that no-one has seen fit to make the score for this film available to collectors. I keep hoping.

Shane is a memorable film with fine performances. The story of cattlemen vs. homesteaders is a familiar one, but it is told here with originality and feelings. The characters, whether good or bad, are vivid and deep. I'll never get tired of watching it. I only wish they'd make a wide-screen version available.
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Hell Bent For Leather
ramblin-jack31 May 2003
Considered by most a masterpiece and by a few 'a waste of film', 1953's SHANE is a mini-epic that tells of the arrival of the mysterious stranger who comes to 'town' and impresses the innocent and threatens the guilty. A good versus evil western was never been more defined. Alan Ladd plays the stranger in an outfit that has been criticized since day-one. He wears a buckskin shirt ala Davy Crockett and if I heard it once, I heard it a thousand times, "that shirt ain't right"! Well, 'pards, I ask you, "Have you ever heard of "Buckskin Frank Leslie?" Just happens to be one of the baddest-ass real life western gunslingers who ever strapped on a gun-rig. Why they haven't made westerns about Leslie I will never know. Doc Holliday, known for reckless bravery, knew enough to stay out of Frank's way. And P.S. he was known for his 'patented' Buckskin Shirt. But I digress...

Shane was directed by George Stevens who admittedly directs with a strictness that borders on fascism. And yet he pulls it off with aplomb. Ladd's character is criticized as well, because he is played by Ladd himself, an actor that is an easy target for certain critics. There's the old joke about Ladd standing in a hole (outside of camera view) to match the heights of his leading ladies, or by standing on a ramp or box so their heights in close-ups would be matched for love scenes. Is this the 'stuff' of western heroes? Not hardly. So here we have "little Alan" taking on one of the most vicious actors that ever played 'Satan Incarnate', the incomparable Jack Palance! Jack's 'Lucifer' is a messenger from hell hired by the bad'uns to save them all from Ladd's goodness. Jack wakes up shortly after arriving in town to assassinate another little man, Elisha Cook Jr., in a scene which was completely and shamelessly ripped off by Eastwood in 'Pale Rider'. The death is completely believable and establishes Palance's character as unstoppable.

The characters in Shane are cut from a woodcarving, they glisten with familiar yet surprising motivations. Ben Johnson, the Sainted actor of westerns plays a very small part that almost steals the film. The bad guys in this film are a textbook rendition of meaness.

But some say that the action is subdued in Shane. But I say the build-up is worth the wait as the final climatic shoot-out has been described by many western film scholars as the best that was ever put to film.

Shane a waste of film? I think not.
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A Western to haunt the memory.
Silver Dollar24 July 2004
A gunslinger, a farmer, a wife, a little boy, a dog, and some dastardly villains....

I first saw "Shane" from the back seat of a '51 Ford, at a drive-in theater somewhere in Montana. The movie was new, and I was about 4 years old. From that time, I remember quiet male voices and the ring of spurs. Those sounds have lived in my mind for decades.

"Shane" is a classic -- no, not a bang-bang shoot-em-up B Western, but it is a solid Western that gives fans of the genre some something to think about besides "they went thataway." The scenery (Jackson Hole, Wyoming) is grand and was even moreso on the big screen. When well known Western novelist A.B. Guthrie wrote the screenplay, he kept fairly faithful to Jack Schaefer's novel. The movie makes a reasonable attempt, for that time, to look authentic in costume and gear, and gives fans of the movies of the '40s and '50s some interesting cinematic moments (see the small things, like how the camera was used to make Alan Ladd seem more "heroic").

I'd probably recast some of the secondary roles, if I had the chance, but Ladd's soft-spoken, gentlemanly way is just right for Shane, and Jack Palance is subtly evil.

Yes, "Shane" contains a few clichés, but they weren't yet quite so cliché, in 1953. Besides, they were well done clichés, so, while you may recognize them, you probably won't mind them.

But, what's "Shane" about, exactly?...

Courage. Loyalty. Honor. Friendship.

It will leave you wishing you knew what happened next.
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10/10
No More Guns In The Valley
bkoganbing19 November 2006
A lonesome stranger rides on to a homesteader's farm looking for water and right after him comes the big cattle baron with several riders issuing the latest of several warning to this particular squatter about getting off 'his' range. Something about the man's bullying attitude rubs the stranger the wrong way and he decides to stay and lend a hand.

So begins the classic western Shane which has entertained millions since its release in 1953. It gave Alan Ladd his career role and resulted in Oscar nominations for Jack Palance and Brandon DeWilde in the Best Supporting Actor category. It could have revived Alan Ladd's career, but for a fatal career decision by his agent/wife Sue Carol.

Shane was shot in 1951 completely on location in the Grand Teton mountains in Wyoming. Another reviewer pointed out that director George Stevens seem to meticulously shoot the same scene from many angles. He did just that and spent a year editing his masterpiece.

But in the mean time Sue Carol made a decision for her husband to leave Paramount and sign with Warner Brothers. Had she held out and waited for Shane's release, she might have gotten a great deal from Paramount that might have included better parts. As it was Paramount had no reason to push this film at Oscar time, so Ladd got no nomination for Best Actor which he could have with some studio backing. By the time Shane was out, Ladd was with Warner Brothers and doing some of the same routine action adventures films that he was doing at Paramount. No classic roles for that man any more.

The rancher versus homesteader is an old western plot story and there have been many films made from both points of view. Shane leaves no doubt that the homesteaders are in the right. The cattleman's point of view is eloquently argued in Elia Kazan's Sea of Grass by Spencer Tracy. That western icon John Wayne's been on both sides of the fence, in McLintock he's a cattle baron, in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance he's a small rancher and protector of the homesteader.

Even Emile Meyer as Rufe Ryker does make a valid point that his kind settled the west when it was really wild. Van Heflin as Joe Starrett argues equally eloquently that doesn't give him the right to say no one else has any rights in the territory.

Shane marked the farewell big screen performance of Jean Arthur. A talented, but terribly strange woman with a whole lot of issues, Arthur delivers a good performance as Van Heflin's missus. She felt she was miscast as a farmer's wife, in westerns she saw herself more in the frontier woman roles she did in The Plainsman and Arizona. And at that she much preferred screwball comedy to any western. They weren't making her kind of films any more as she saw it, so she left.

When Shane's done doing what fate brought him to do in the valley he has to leave. For the community to grow there must be no more guns in the valley as he well realizes. So he leaves to an unknown fate, living in the hearts and memories of the Starrett family and the rest of the small farmers, especially young Brandon DeWilde.

And in the hearts of all lovers of the western genre including this little cowpoke who saw him as a small lad on the big silver screen so many years ago.
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8/10
Irony, irony, and more irony
A_Different_Drummer19 March 2017
After watching the massively depressing LOGAN (2017) and noticing that the closing scene pays homage to Shane (same dialog used to mark Logan's grave) I felt the need to do an update review on Shane.

According to traditional Hollywood history, Shane is one of the 100 greatest films of all time, iconic, and even the dialog is multi-layered.

There is a scene in the short-lived TV series THE OTHERS (done by the same two men who created X-Files) where one of the lead characters, who is blind, regularly goes to the movies to watch SHANE, over and over. In many ways, that has to be one of the grandest back-handed compliments you can pay to a film.

I wish however to also suggest there is a great deal of hidden irony in what otherwise appears to be a straightforward western.

For example, Ladd hated guns and, according to film legend (Wikipedia) had to do over 100 takes in the iconic scene where he teaches the boy to draw. Similarly, Jack Palance hated horses and was only able to do one successful "mount" after many takes. Director Stevens had to use this same piece of film over and over, even to the point of running the strip backwards to make it look like Jack was dismounting.

Wait, it gets better. Director Stevens hated violence and wanted SHANE to be be an anti-violence film. However, the trope he invented for the gunfight, where the actors were violently pulled backwards by ropes as bullets struck, is considered by film historians to have "forever changed the face of film action" and led to an entirely new generation of gunfighting in films where the violence increased by a factor of 100X. Even the infamous Hong Kong action film directors consider they owe a debt to Stevens.

The final irony is that, in the opinion of this reviewer, the film does not stand for what the screenwriter intended. To this reviewer, Shane is a metaphor for the evolution of the United States itself, an arc more visible when this review is penned (in 2017) than in 1953. Although even in 1953, at the end of WW2, the US as a nation was having to face introspection, as a nation which had hitherto prided itself on isolationism suddenly felt compelled to become policeman to the entire world.

Still a great film. But also an ironic one.
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9/10
Simple peaceful lifestyles threatened by land grabbing ranchers and sinister gunslinger, saved by a weary reluctant gunslinger.
terminator-36 June 2000
This western epitomises how a film should be made.

Classic scenery and outstanding performances from all. From the various cultures of the farmers bonding together through the harshness of farming life. Happy to raise families on land built and developed by their own hands. This is then threatened by the ranchers unwillingness to share the common land. Brutality and force is their tool, they try to force out the farmers (even resorting to hiring the gunslinger - Jack Wilson - Jack Palance). One farmer holds the other farmers together (Starett - Van Heflin), though even his resistance is weakening until a lone retired gunslinger rides in to save the day...

The sheer quality of characters and acting makes this film. The friendly (though not always) banter over Torrey's rebel background, the bond amongst the children, the affection shown in all families. The turning of Chris Calloway, the cold hearted nature of Ryker.

Finally the performances of the main characters. Van Heflin and Jean Arthur as the Starett's have a simple but loving relationship. Their son Joey loves his parents, but is greatly impressed by the mystery and skill of Shane (Alan Ladd).

Shane is reluctant to return to the way of the gun until Ryker hires a top gunslinger (Jack Palance). Palance is the perfect clinically precise cold hearted killer. Every aspect of his manner portrays cold efficiency (even to drinking water and mounting his horse).

There is simple humour added, for example when Shane is hit with an "Easy Chair".

Even the two dogs could act ! When Shane finally confronts Wilson the dog in the bar skulks with his tail between his legs.

The scenery and music were the icing on the cake.

This film will remain a benchmark for all western's to follow.
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A sweeping and memorable movie
munson-27 November 1998
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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9/10
One of my favourites
jameskinsman23 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Shane (1953) is about the enduring struggle of a group of 'homesteaders' fight to survive and build their families in the Valley of Wyoming. The Story focuses on the Starrett family which consists of Joe, Marion, his wife, and Joey, their beloved son. The eponymous character Shane is a retiring gunfighter who is riding into the valley and is trying to leave his mysterious and violent past behind him. When he enters the valley he is drawn to the Starrett home and as the film progresses, he becomes increasingly interwoven into both their family life and their fight against Ryker who, with the aid of others, is trying to drive them from the valley he wants for himself.

The apparent simplicity of Shane is very deceptive. Stevens artistry as a director infuses this film with an eminent aura of an Arthurian legend, an outstanding quality that has resulted in it becoming one of the most imitated and revered westerns of all time. Its excellent depiction of the age old myth that is the mysterious wandering protector vs the evil bloodthirsty murderer is arguably one of the best in cinema. In his portrayal of Jack Wilson, George Stevens has put to screen one of the most celebrated villains of cinema. His violent and sadistic nature is brought to the forefront in one of cinema's most shocking visions - the killing of 'stonewall' Torrey. The entire scene is both visually stunning and superbly choreographed, a combination that runs throughout this film.

The spectacular Valley floor and the surrounding Teton Mountains of Wyoming are brought to life by director of photography Loyal Griggs who received the films only Oscar (although it received six nominations). Instead of using standard 25mm lenses that would make the mountains appear very distant, Griggs used 75mm/100mm telephoto lenses that draw the mountains in, making their grandeur and beauty loom over the valley floor. This is apparent in many of the films beautiful scenes, one of which is Torreys' funeral, where the stunning landscapes of the valley are a backdrop to the sad and moving scene. This is just one example of the artistry at work in Shane, a film that boasts a wealth of Beautiful photography.

The characterisation in Shane is wonderful. The film never tries to make us connect with the characters using forced dialogue. We get glimpses of their qualities and see their detailed reactions to what goes on and what is said. This is part of the way we get to know people in real life. This quality that runs throughout the film imbues the deep connection we feel with the characters and the understanding we have of them. Shane is a film that leaves a lot up to the audience and part of the pleasure is seeing a look or a reaction from one of the characters that we are able to understand and read into.

Joeys' fascination for Shane's gun mirrors that of many adolescents and teenagers in society, who love to run around and play with guns. However George Stevens wanted to dispel the glamorisation of the six-gun and to emphasise the destruction they cause. In order to convey this message Stevens actually had the sound of gunfire magnified on the soundtrack – a technique not previously attempted in mainstream cinema. Shane tells Joey just as he is about to ride off "There's no living with a killing (or a killer)". His sentiments represent societies view on killing – no matter which way you cut it, the use of violence cannot be an accepted value of society. Computer games today glamorise the use of guns and make causing destruction and bloodshed fun, a trend which seems to reflect in cinema of today, where the acceptable level of violence portrayed in films is greater than ever before. Shanes honest portrayal of the devastating effects of guns and its condemnation of violence is a message as relevant as ever.

Shane has a heart-rending and inspirational quality to it that elevates it above being 'just a western', and it becomes a fantastic mystical tale that deals with complex themes deep rooted in the fabric of society such as human nature, family life, the culture of the gun and identity. The films much debated and talked about ending is a testament to the great and lasting impact this film has had.
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9/10
The noblest hero and the wickedest villain in any movie ever made.
ianmacdcoleman31 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The character of Shane is so selflessly noble in this movie that only a truly gifted actor could play the role and still be believable. Shane is such a good man that, at one point, he pretends to be a coward in order to avoid fighting a man he could easily kill in a gunfight. In the end, after killing the irredeemably wicked Jack Wilson, Shane does not exult in triumph. His face takes on a look of deep sorrow. Then he praises the dead Wilson to the boy Joey, and tells the boy that, "there's no going back from a killing." Wonderful, and Alan Ladd does it all with a quiet, gentle dignity that is truly heroic.

Jack Palance plays evil gunfighter Jack Wilson. Wilson is the most hateful, frightening villain ever to appear in a movie. Wilson taunts the valiant fool Ernie Torrey into drawing his gun, and then gleefully shoots him down. Then he laughs about it.

I think that Shane is about the necessity for remorse. Shane, who bears a burden of remorse for a past life as a gunfighter, does his best to renounce violence, only to be forced against his best intentions to kill again. Because he is a good man, and wise enough now to know that killing is terrible, his heroism is extreme, because he must bear not only the danger of fighting but also the pain of remorse even if he survives the fight. Wilson, on the other hand, is perfectly evil because he feels no remorse for killing. He enjoys it and is proud of his capacity to do it. Wilson has no soul.

I am the only one I know who thinks this, but I think that Shane has been mortally wounded at the end of the movie, and is going off to die alone, rather than let the boy Joey witness his death. Nobody else gets this out of the movie, so maybe it's just me.
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10/10
Shane Leaves Powerful Memories
ccthemovieman-127 April 2006
I am little biased in favor of "Shane" because I was awed with this a young boy in the theater so it has some sentimental value. It certainly doesn't have the impact it did back then, but it will always be considered by many as one of the great classics in film history, certainly regarding Westerns.

These classics, particularly the westerns, were good vehicles in promoting values and definite good vs. evil stories. The evil here is personified by Jack Palance. He doesn't have many lines but he doesn't need them. His body language in this film spoke volumes, and he was one scary dude. Even the dog gets up and moves when Palance moves! However, an unsung role (eighth billing in the credits) in here was the one by Emile Meyer, who played the real villain in here, "Ryker." (Palance was just called in at the end.) A young Ben Johnson plays a member of his gang.

Alan Ladd, meanwhile, is the hero, the man who comes to the aid of family man Van Helflin, his wife Jean Arthur and young son Brandon De Wilde. The kid, De Wilde, steals the film and made himself into a young star with his role here. Whether feverishly chewing on his candy while witnessing Ladd fighting the bad guys or his plaintiff cries for "Shane!" at the end of the film, he made a memorable impression.

The only overdone part - as seen in so many old-time westerns - is the amount of punches people took, blow after blow, when in real life they would have knocked unconscious right off the bat! But, that's part of the genre, I guess.

"Shane" was a forerunner of many of western that copied its successful formula. This movie was so famous that a lot of newborns were named "Shane" for awhile.

"Powerful" is another adjective that describes this film - back then and still now. Great stuff!
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10/10
One of the best dozen or so movies ever made, of any genre.
grytedg22 August 2006
Shane[1953] is a masterpiece on so many levels that it is truly difficult to know where to begin. I could start by comparing it with "High Noon", a deserving and highly-praised effort which really cleaned up at the Oscars the previous year[1952], but which now seems very dated and somewhat artificial in my opinion. By comparison, Shane feels as if it could have been made last month, by all of our best film professionals working together on what can only be described as a labour of love - - music, cinematography, screenplay, acting, production design - - everything.

I saw Shane first when I was 8 or 9 years old, in the Daylight theatre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, back in 1953 when it was first released. I have since seem this moving and beautiful parable at least a dozen times since then, and it keeps getting better each time, like a truly masterful piece of symphonic music with many layers and textures. The imagery in Shane is so deep and the story so full of mythological archetypes that the experience evoked in the viewer is timeless - - it is really about the "hero's journey". And the dialogue in Shane is every bit as authentic, noble and powerful as it was when I first saw it as a wide-eyed little boy who was knocked right off his feet. The experience keeps getting deeper and deeper, as I get older.

Shane is much more than a Western. It has more in common with the Saxon myth Beowulf or Homer's Odyssey than it does with other Westerns, or for that matter with most other movies. Shane is really an epic, an inspiring and beautifully made epic, which speaks to the very deepest parts of us, of what is means to be human - - - and to stand up on your own and be counted.

Bravo to George Stevens! Bravo to Alan Ladd and the rest of a stellar cast. Without a doubt one of the best dozen or so movies ever made.
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9/10
A Western tragedy of almost Gothic proportions, with Alan Ladd as the quintessential good 'bad' guy...
Roger Burke7 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
At first glance, the Western genre is perhaps an unlikely vehicle for tragedy in a grand sense – it probably suffers from more B-movies than any other. An exception, however, is Shane, which was produced and directed by one of Hollywood's greats, George Stevens. The plot of the film is well known, to the extent that some may argue it is simple. But the story of Shane, as a person, is timeless and complex, being the tragedy of a man unable to escape his past or as he says, towards the end, "A man can't break the mould…" -- and three dead killers in the saloon are mute witnesses to that truth.

While there are sub-plots that foreshadow the denouement, Stevens encapsulates the entire tragedy of Shane, visually and symbolically, with the spectacle of the opening and closing sequences – no mean feat, in my opinion. As the Academy Award winning sound track begins, the film opens with Shane – in faded (almost white) buckskin, off-white hat and mounted upon a palomino stallion – beginning a long descent into a scene of natural splendour, a spectacle that symbolically epitomizes "Heaven on Earth", so to speak: the lush valley surrounded by white-capped mountains, and a glittering river meandering through the green pastures. The sun is high, the sky is blue, all is peaceful and Shane's head is high as he traverses, like a white knight, the valley floor to the farmhouse in the distance to meet young Joey, the farmer's son.

When the awful deeds are done, however, and the plot has run its course, the closing contrast is stark, and diametrically opposed to the beginning: wounded physically and emotionally, Shane rides up the mountain trail, with gathering storm clouds above and all around, to leave the valley forever, his buckskins and hat now darkened almost black from the falling rain. The lightning flashes, the thunder rolls and Death, once again, rides a Pale Horse -- but this time, away from all that is Good, in the valley below. His head bowed, his wounded arm sagging at his side, Shane finally reaches the crest of the ridge and disappears from view: his Paradise Lost, and the echo of Joey's cry "Shane – come back!" long gone. The tragedy for Shane is now complete.

The acting throughout is as near perfect as is possible: casting Alan Ladd as Shane was inspired, because his style of acting matched ideally the quiet, unassuming strength and power of the character of Shane. The only other suitable actor at that time was probably Glenn Ford, but I'm quite happy that Ladd got the part. And the evil personification of the gunfighter Wilson found its rightful place in the hands of Jack Palance, a much under-rated actor whose presence almost steals the movie (I did read somewhere that Jack Palance was, in fact, the fastest on the draw of all Western genre actors in Hollywood!). But, like Bogie's Rick Blaine in Casablanca who had to give up his dream to fight on, so also Alan Ladd's Shane has become the iconic Western 'good guy' who, despite all his efforts to shake off his past, must still carry on to fight his demons within and those others who continue to ravage his world.

If you've not seen this movie, then I do heartily recommend it. And, for what it's worth, that great director/writer of the human comedy, Woody Allen, rates Shane as his most favorite movie.
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The Good, The Bad, and The Unexpected
rrichr5 October 2002
Whether or not Shane is, in fact, a great film is open to at least some discussion. But it is certainly among the most cinematic. One could set a documentary on garbage-collection in the Grand Tetons and elevate its stature by that fact alone. Put a film of real substance in such a setting and the table is definitely set. Shane is beautiful to watch, at times like a moving oil painting. In fact, the film's setting sometimes overpowers its characters, diffusing them into the vast scenery. It's easy to picture just planting signs in the ground that say `Town', `Homestead', `Cemetery' and foregoing set-design altogether.

Shane never completely worked for me until I was able to stop seeing it purely as a western. Alan Ladd's title character is almost a total non-sequitur, more like a State Farm agent from 1950's Des Moines horsebacking through the Snake River valley of Wyoming, perhaps as part of a dude ranch outing. He's just all wrong. But there it is. Must the improbable Ladd, in his improbable fringed buckskins, be human at all? In the later Clint Eastwood films, High Plains Drifter and Pale Rider, both of which reference Shane wholeheartedly (all three films draw on the same fundamental myth) Clint Eastwood's characters, though certainly interesting and implicitly mysterious, remain rather superficially so (as though both wear signs that say `Supernatural'). Shane is truly mysterious, and perhaps even more unreal, because he is so completely incongruous. Just look past the costume. When Shane was made, The Twilight Zone had not yet appeared. But Rod Serling did not invent The Strange. He simply had the genius to recognize and tap into what was already percolating up into the general consciousness. As a possibly supernatural guardian of a vast landscape, Ladd's near-flatline characterization begins to make real sense.

As was the case with the Eastwood characters, the disharmony required to call the supernatural guardian into human form has manifested and he has appeared. Shane comes from `nowhere' and eventually returns to that no-place, where even the innocent Brandon DeWilde may not follow. He resembles no one and exhibits few human traits aside from the most superficial. No one, neither sodbuster nor cowpuncher, knows quite what to make of him. He seems friendly but this may be just the side-effect of a complete absence of the reactionism displayed by many of the film's other characters, an entirely different orientation from the merely friendly. Shane is part of no relationship with man or woman and never will be, even though Jean Arthur's homestead wife, an orchid of womanhood transplanted into the high plains, chastely throws herself at him. Shane clearly returns her love, but from a place as remote and still as the summit of Everest on a calm morning. There are wisps of implication that Shane may have a past but they vanish quickly; subatomic resonances of Shane's transient human form. Shane is there. But in many ways he is not. Of course, director George Stevens probably did not ascribe to any paranormal vision when making the film. But things often happen even when they are not intended, certainly in art.

The film proceeds somewhat formulaically until its chief villains, the cattle-ranching Ryker brothers call up a dark force to oppose Shane's angel of light. The Rykers pioneered the vast valley for open range, against nature and its indigenous inhabitants and are ready to kill to keep their range from being homesteaded. They summon the gunfighter, Jack Wilson, played definitively by the young Jack Palance. Palance's Wilson is a killer of such distilled lethality that just looking at him might kill you. Whenever Wilson is on screen, time seems to slow down as it is refracted by his menacing gravity (Almost all subsequent tv/movie gunslingers are his bitches). Wilson is, allegedly, from Cheyenne but that assertion is never confirmed by hard evidence. He simply appears. The first meeting of Shane and Wilson, at the homestead of alpha-sodbuster Joe Starrett ( Van Heflin), is riveting. The Rykers are making the rounds, issuing their final warning to the farmers, accompanied for maximum effect by the recently-arrived Wilson. Not a word is exchanged as the two entities unblinkingly size each other up. Dialog continues in the background but you barely hear it as Wilson, who has dismounted for a drink of water, places a foot in a stirrup then almost levitates back into the saddle, grinning like death, having never taken his eyes off Shane from the first moment, finally backing his horse out of Starrett's yard in order to keep Shane in focus. A later sequence where Wilson meticulously executes Elisha Cook Jr.'s homesteader, a punched-out Civil War veteran with exponentially more pride than sense, must rank as one of the most powerful ever filmed, western or otherwise. Rolling thunder clouds open for a moment and bathe the homesteader in bright light as he almost turns back on the way to his doom, then they close and roll on as he rejects his last chance.

Shane, the film, owes much to its beautifully-rendered bad guys, who confront a rather bland, uni-dimensional good, giving it texture and motivation. Without them, the film might have remained just a western movie. Shane, the character, enters as something of a poster-boy cowboy hero. But, bathed in Jack Wilson's black light, he glows beyond that status. The Taoists assert that emptiness lies at the heart of all things; the wheel turns because the center of the hub is empty. Shane turns, to no little degree, because its hub is almost equally empty, the film moving in stately rotation around Ladd's near-blank, avenging angel. If Shane is a great film it is, possibly, as much by accident as design. It was meant to be a big, studio western in the style of that period. However, unforeseen chemical reactions occurred and the result transcended certain stylistic bindings, including its swelling, 'Big Sky' score, to become more than the sum of its parts.
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And my mother wants you, Shane! I KNOW she does!
mlevans22 January 2003
Warning: Spoilers
American cinematography doesn't get much more American than Shane. George Stevens' 1953 classic captures everything that was the myth and much that was the reality of the American West.

Shane works on more than one level, as do most outstanding films. On its most basic level, this is, of course, a traditional Western. The basic macho American mantra `Leave me alone and I'll leave you alone; push me too far and I'll fight' is ever-present, as well as the theme of progress and order-although the coming of that progress, order and eventual civilization, of course, will spell the end of the very lifestyle these characters fight for.

A huge comeback for Alan Ladd, Shane is also a very good portrayal of very real people, facing very real challenges. It is magnificently crafted, exquisitely filmed and wonderfully acted. Shane has to stand among the genre's greatest films.

SPOILERS AHEAD

Ladd revives a sagging career with a tremendous performance as the withdrawn, unobtrusive, yet proud and gutsy Shane. A mysterious character-we don't even know if Shane is his first or last name, Shane happens by the Joe Starrett farm and winds up staying for a spell. Starrett (Van Heflin) is the leader of a pack of homesteading farmers being harassed and threatened by an unscrupulous cattle baron, Rufus Ryker (Emile Meyer). Although one can predict how the movie will end long before the climactic scene arrives, the build-up toward the climax is nevertheless rivoting.

Aside from the traditional machismo, yet honorable male code of ethics, the film also displays a less often seen angle. As in The Searchers, the happily married wife (Jean Arthur) is obviously attracted to Shane. Although nothing inappropriate is done or said, the mutual attraction becomes obvious to Starrett-capped, of course, with the deliciously ironic line by young Joey Starrett (Brandon de Wilde) at the end, `…and my mother wants you, Shane! I KNOW she does!'

Another thing that lifts Shane above the normal genre fare is the deep characterization. These are not one or two-dimensional characters. The villains are no more cardboardish than the protagonists. When the bearded Ryker gives an impassioned speech to the Starrett family about how the old-time ranchers worked and bled and fought to make the area what it is, only to be fenced out of their water, etc., it may not swing many viewers to his side-yet it does show us that Ryker HAS a point of view. In the end, both Ryker AND Starrett proclaim that they are willing to kill the other to hang onto what they feel rightly belongs to them. While our loyalty stays with Starrett and Shane, the enemy is no mere sadistic cardboard bad guy. Even the delightfully sardonic gunslinger Jack Wilson (played wonderfully by Jack Palance) has some humanity. While he seems to truly enjoy his work (and his grin is as chilling as it would be playing Dracula 20 years later!), he does make an effort to avoid fighting Shane-someone other than the man whom he has been hired to kill.

The other farmers are a fascinating collection, with pint-sized Confederate fireball Frank `Stonewall' Torrey (Elisha Cook, Jr.), lanky, cautious Swede Axel Shipstead (Douglas Spencer) and garrulous old fart Fred Lewis (the beloved Edgar Buchanan) and their families. I get a lump in my throat seeing Stonewall's faithful hound whine and paw sadly at his master's coffin as it is lowered into its grave. The entire cast is strong.

Of course Arthur, as Marion Starrett, deservedly gets second billing behind Ladd. A sweet-natured beauty, she is obviously happy with her husband and son. Yet her eyes do roam onto the mysterious stranger in their midst. Little Joey is probably right; his mother probably DOES want Shane. Yet, as in A Tale of Two Cities, Shane does the `far, far better thing' and meets the gunman in Starrett's place-albeit very much against Joe's will.

Overall, this is a very satisfying movie. Other than the music being a tad overbearing at times (such as Shane's fateful ride into town to face Ryker and Wilson), it is one that seems to be without any real flaws. Shane deserves its place as one of America's best films of its decade and one of the top Westerns ever made.
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8/10
A Lyrical Celebration Of Nascent American Communal Society, And A Lament For The Death Of The Frontier
stryker-519 January 1999
Wyoming in the 1880's is a beautiful wilderness of spectacular mountains and fertile valleys. Into one such valley Shane, the lonely gunfighter, comes riding.

He happens upon a local war between the ranchers and the homesteaders. Rufe Ryker, the rancher, won this valley from the indians and resents the squatters who have "fenced me off from water". The valley should, he believes, be open cattle range. Joe Starrett is the natural leader of the homesteaders. He sees the future of America in terms of communities - people should settle the land and work it, and build schools and churches.

As Shane rides onto Starrett's spread, he is greeted by idyllic domesticity. Joe is chopping wood, Little Joey is playing and Marian sings as she fixes supper. Both Shane and Starrett bristle ... "I didn't expect to find any fences around here," says Shane, and Joe takes Shane for one of Ryker's troublemakers.

The tension subsides and Shane stays overnight. The pain in his face when Marian serves a wedge of apple pie denotes a longing for a happy home life and the love of a good woman. Marian, too, is affected by Shane. She hides coyly in the kitchen, then brings out the best crockery for her guest.

In return for the hospitality, Shane starts chopping at the stubborn old treestump. Starrett joins him, and the two men toil to defeat the stump, bonding in friendship as they symbolically tame the frontier wilderness.

Ernie Wright stops by. He is a homesteader who wants out because of Ryker's bullies, but Starrett persuades him to stay. Shane agrees to work for Joe, because he sees that Joe is this community's anchor, and he will need help in the confrontation to come.

The homesteaders keep to the valley floor, the cowboys haunt the township. Farmers stay on their spreads, raising their families and working the land. The cowpokes are single men whose only fixed point is Grafton's saloon.

Old man Grafton has two businesses on adjoining premises, but they are separate universes. Homesteaders patronise the general store, making expeditions for clothes, nails and food, bonnets for the women and candy for the kids. The saloon is where Ryker's thugs spend their day. The listless, pointless existence is enlivened only when a 'sodbuster' strays in, giving them someone to bully.

Under orders from Joe not to get into trouble, Shane ventures into the saloon and is picked on by Ryker's men. With enormous self-restraint, he allows himself to be humiliated.

Joe calls a homesteaders' meeting. The budding community looks to Starrett as its leader. The farmers decide to do their shopping en masse, to minimise exposure to the cattlemen. When Marian warns Little Joey not to "get to likin' Shane too much", we know that she has fallen in love.

The mass shopping expedition is a turning-point. Shane settles his score with the bullies, and he and Joe, fighting back-to-back, take on Ryker's men and win. This prompts Ryker to send to Cheyenne for Wilson, the hired killer.

Wilson exudes evil. The lithe, black-hatted gunslinger never works. He sits around the saloon all day, a brooding alien presence in the valley. At the face-off on Starrett's spread, Shane watches intensely as Wilson backs his horse out with sinister elegance.

It is Wilson's function to goad the homesteaders into drawing against him, so that he can gun them down. 'Stonewall' Torey is the obvious first choice, being a recklessly brave hothead. The confrontation is a thrilling piece of cinema ... Shipstead's three plaintive cries which almost pull Torey back from the brink ...the bleak, muddy street .... the awful inevitability.

The funeral is another cinematic triumph. The mourners are dramatically silhouetted against the vast sky as the dog pines for his dead master. Down on the valley floor, the township with its saloon glowers like a stain on the landscape.

The homesteaders are all for quitting until they see that Fred Lewis's place has been set ablaze by Ryker's men. This has two plot consequences. The sodbusters now resolve to stay and build a community, and Starrett decides to ride in and settle things with Ryker.

Shane cannot allow this. He knows that Joe is no match for Wilson. Starrett hints that there is a certain appropriateness about being killed in this way. He knows that Marian will be looked after, and that Shane will stand up to Ryker ...

And so the two friends fight. This is a cataclysm for Marian and Joey, and it shakes the foundations of their world. While the fight proceeds, out of our view, Marian and Joey hurry from window to window, as if in a shipwreck. When the camera moves out into the yard, we see the fistfight through the legs of terrified horses. Dogs quiver in fear. The Starrett universe is in turmoil.

In the final scene in the barroom, Shane tells Tyker the cruel truth - the old man has lived too long. Ryker's dream has passed from the earth. When the violence is done, Shane rides off into the dawn, wounded and alone. He knows that his dream, too, has passed him by.

The dawn symbolises the new era of peace and prosperity in the valley. As Shane leaves it behind, Joey's innocently ironic words echo back from the sierra - "And mother wants you. I know she does!"
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10/10
The best Western of all time!
Jonrein-221 October 2000
This is one of my favorite movies and the best Western of all time. If you have not seen this movie you are missing one of the really great movies. Shane does not put his guns on until the end but when he does!!!!!!!!
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7/10
The direction makes it
Leofwine_draca24 December 2016
SHANE is an entirely visual and iconic example of the western genre that also standards as Alan Ladd's most famous role. The thing that makes this film is the direction from George Stevens, which is really something else. Stevens carefully crafts a film that looks a treat and his direction of the action sequences is second to none, making them some of the strongest of the genre. My only real complaint with this film is the incessant use of day-for-night filming; everything else is great.

The story is one of those ones which has plenty of mileage in it. Alan Ladd plays a retired gunslinger who joins up with a group of settlers, including Van Heflin who is fine in support and bags a more interesting character than Ladd's. The settlers find themselves up against Emile Meyer as the cruel Ryker, and his various men including veteran genre star Ben Johnson and Jack Palance in a truly evil, star-making performance. Elisha Cook Jr. is here too, playing a tougher character than you'd expect.

A lot of the material is told through the eyes of your typically annoying American kid, but thankfully he's not too grating and at least his heart is in the right place. There's plenty of suspense and drama to keep the tale moving, but it's the action which really hits home. The excellent climax is a given - and Eastwood would later reference it in UNFORGIVEN - but it's the bar-room brawl which is something else, one of the most powerful fist-fights I've seen on a film. Top stuff indeed.
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10/10
Things Change
oldgoldtop27 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Perhaps my favorite western! The opening of the proud buck drinking from the stream as Shane (wearing his buckskin) rides by reflects the changes taking place. The film symbolizes how each wave of change is resisted by the previous. Shane understands that his time and the wide open ranges are ending and it will be the newcomers who will be doing their part to settle the land. The cattlemen are products of their time trying to hang on. Beautiful photography. A tale of temptation, loyalty and character that seems missing in todays world. Jack Palance is heartless and the gunfights are still the best. The film set a new standard for the genre in 1953. It is unfortunate that it was made just before the advent of widescreen. It is interesting to see the gun debate issue in such an old film.
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7/10
Highly watchable Western in which a drifter resolves a conflict between a bunch of settlers and wealthy owner
ma-cortes11 March 2013
This is a classic Western about usual confrontation between cattlemen and homesteaders. A strange and weary cowboy named Shame comes to defense peasants in their struggle against the nasty owners , as the gunfighter fighting to stifle the conflicts between homesteaders and cattlemen who hire a hired hand . A drifter (Alan Ladd) comes to a farm in the Old West just in time to reckoning gunslingers and owners . Shane attempts to settle down with a homestead husband named Starrett (Van Heflin) , his wife named Marian (Jean Arthur was over 50 years old ,she was, in fact, ten years older than Emile Meyer and Katharine Hepburn was originally suggested for the role of Marian) and a son , but a smoldering settler/rancher conflict forces him to act. He is a mysterious gunfighter who comes to the aid of countrymen from a greedy wealthy owner (top-notch Emile Meyer as grizzled old cattle baron Rufus Ryker) trying to encroach on their land . Meanwhile , the Good Stranger is idolized by their son (Brandon De Wilde). As the wealthy owner contracts an outlaw as hired gunfighter (Jack Palance) to kill Starrett and Shane.

Well crafted and sweeping Western with interesting screenplay written by A. B Guthrie , including memorable dialogue and important phrases , as the movie's line "Come back, Shane!" was voted as the #69 of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere in 2007 . Agreeable Western packs drama , thrills , go riding , shootouts and some moving action sequences . It's a high budget film with good actors , technicians, production values and pleasing results . Alan Ladd is unforgettable in the title role coming to help a group of struggling homesteaders . Director George Stevens originally cast Montgomery Clift as Shane and William Holden as Joe Starrett , when both decided to do other films instead, "Shane" was nearly abandoned , a bit later on , upon seeing a list of actors under contract to the studio, Stevens cast Alan Ladd, Van Heflin and Jean Arthur . The scene where Alan Ladd practices shooting in front of Brandon De Wilde took 119 takes to complete. Good casting with several prestigious secondaries as Edgar Buchanan , Ben Johnson , John Dierkes , Elisha Cook Jr , and special mention to Jack Palance as a downright nasty pistolero . Exquisitely shot in CinemaScope by Loyal Griggs who deservedly won Oscar Best Cinematography , with a magnificent photo tography on impressive exteriors and snowy mountains backgrounds , being filmed on location in Big Bear Lake, Big Bear Valley, San Bernardino National Forest, California and Grand Teton National Park, Moose, Wyoming . Thrilling as well as sensitive musical score by Victor Young , though the music cues for the climactic ride that Shane takes to the showdown are from an earlier Paramount film, ¨Rope of sand¨ . 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 . 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 .

The motion picture was directed in sure visual eye by the great George Stevens . In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #45 Greatest Movie of All Time and ranked #3 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Western" in June 2008 . Many years later , Clint Eastwood directed ¨Pale rider¨ , this film is made in somewhat similar style to ¨Shane¨ , and which so much cloning of ¨High plains drifter¨ also directed by Eastwood only this time the drifter appears to have been sent from hell rather than heaven to right from ordinary injustices . This classic Western ¨Shane¨ as good as the notorious ¨Pale rider¨ is splendid in every way . It was followed by a TV series starred by David Carradine and Jill Ireland , equally titled ¨Shane¨.
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10/10
They don't make westerns any better than this one
parcdelagrange20 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I first saw this western as a boy, and fifty odd years and many viewings later, it still holds my attention. It is a tale of courage, loyalty, friendship and morality, but told in a non sentimental way,as seen through the eyes of a young boy. The acting is superb, Alan Ladd plays to perfection the hero in an understated way and the supporting cast play their parts with perfection. Although the basic plot is simple, the good guys are being driven off their land by the bad guys, a stranger rides in and takes up their cause, eventually vanquishing the bad guys, the sub plot goes much deeper, even to the extent that it is shown that even the bad guys have a point, if not justification, for trying to regain the land that the homesteaders have cultivated. They just do not make movies like this anymore, if this film were to be remade now, no doubt we would see Shane in bed with his friends wife, graphic violence, digital special effects and a proliferation of four letter words.
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