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A classic, understated western- great cast.
none-8526 December 1998
Ladd should have been nominated for an Academy Award.This was Arthur's last movie- and one of her best. The attraction and near love between Ladd and Arthur is touching, as Arthur so obviously loves her husband- Heflin. Palance is at his evil best as the tall, lanky gunfighter. DeWilde( who was nominated along with Palance for best supporting actor) is perfect as the hero-worshipping young boy. Johnson and Meyer are also great in their supporting roles. The ending bar-room-gunfight scene between Ladd and Palance is a classic. Even the dog was great, e.g., the way it and Dewilde watched the last gunfight.
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A magnificent film, an unforgettable experience.
gayspiritwarrior2 June 2000
I actually saw the first run of this movie, in my pj's, at a drive-in movie. I remember my total identification with the boy, feeling acutely his longing for Shane's warmth and attentiveness as contrasted with his father's sterner aloofness. As a man I was stunned to revisit it and see the unequaled cinematography, and to find parallels now with the adults and their struggles to survive in the face of human and natural conflict. I found it, both times, absorbing from start to finish. Truly one of the great cinematic creations.
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Simple peaceful lifestyles threatened by land grabbing ranchers and sinister gunslinger, saved by a weary reluctant gunslinger.
terminator-36 June 2000
Warning: Spoilers
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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great story line; great performances; famous final scene
tomhull28 August 2000
I had never heard of this movie when my cousin took me to a drive-in to see it in the mid 60s. He said it was good. After seeing it, my impression was that it was dull, dreary, and much too slow paced. But something drew me back to it when it showed up on TV maybe a couple of years later. After watching it again, I wanted to see it yet again; but I wasn't sure why. That process continued maybe two or three more times and I gradually figured out that I liked (not to mention the Grand Tetons) the fact that the characters were so down to earth and believable and it was easy to identify with and/or understand them. The story line was very believable also; partly because it had no flashy heroics. Any parent of a son has to consider viewing Brandon De Wilde's performance as one of the most special movie experiences they have ever had. The crowning glory of "Shane", of course, is what is (arguably) the most unforgettable final scene in movie history.
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The Heroes Are Tired
telegonus14 August 2001
Shane is the third major western from the early fifties (the others being The Gunfighter and High Noon) that features tired, reluctant heroes who are fed up with violence and want to settle down. What gives!

Well, I guess the modern world does. These three films reflect the postwar mood, as an America tired of fighting wars and a major economic depression just wants to live peacefully. Maybe this was an issue the Left and the Right could agree on, which made it politically 'safe' and yet somehow relevant.

As to Shane itself, the movie seems to have lost some of its luster in the almost half century since it was first released. Director George Stevens' aestheticism is of another time, and while I respect it I can see what's wrong with it (too slow, too deliberate, too obvious, a tad more moralistic than most people these days are comfortable with).

The plot is fairy tale simple: Shane, a mysterious stranger dressed in white arrives at the house of Starret, a pigheaded but basically decent rancher who, as things develop, is being set upon by an evil, greedy land-grabber named Ryker, who wants to gobble up the entire valley, and who is attempting to drive the small farmers and ranchers off their land. There are many confrontations and fights along the way. Eventually old Ryker hires a gunslinger to intimidate the already scared out of their wits homesteaders, send them packing, and if they resist, murder them. He succeeds with some but not with Starret, who wants to fight to the bitter end. Shane is inclined to agree with his friend (and boss) and decides that it would be better if he, an experienced gunman, squared off against Ryker and his gang. In the end this is what happens. Starret's son, Joey, who idolizes Shane, follows him into town, where he witnesses the Whole Thing.

There are some slow spots in this film, and if one wanted to be cruel one would say that it's mostly slow spots. As has so often been pointed out, it lacks momentum. More to the point, it lacks the air of inevitability that might have elevated it nearer to the level of tragedy, which might have given it a fullness, a richness, that the finished product does not, alas, possess.

Nor are the characters without a certain inconsistency. Why, for example, are the homesteaders so kutzy and incapable of handling firearms? This is the Old West fuh cryin' out loud! New England farmers were and in many cases still are known for being crack shots. Since most of the locals came from the East, while it would be reasonable to assume that they would be a bit less rugged than the born to the West types, it would be equally reasonable to suppose that they know a thing ot two about guns, especially since the Civil War is a living memory, as is mentioned on a number of occasions. For the most part the settlers react to Ryker & Co. like a bunch of scared jack rabbits. And little Joey seems awfully immature for his age. His hero-worshipping of Shane, while touching at times, often feels absurd. Joey's idolizing might have worked better if Shane had been presented with more flaws, so that we (the audience) could see him for who is really is, but instead Shane comes across like 'Joey's movie', his Shane, not ours, not the real man but the gallant knight a small child imagines him to be.

Luckily, the pluses outweigh the minuses. Loyal Griggs' photography is at times breathtakingly good. The integration of natural sounds and music is exemplary. Nearly all of the supporting performances are superb, from the good guys to the very bad ones. I was particularly impressed by the bearded and usually very urban Emile Meyer as the elder Ryker brother. Jack Palance givies what is now a legendary performance as the evil Wilson, the gunfighter. As the Starrets Van Heflin and Jean Arthur were sturdy and believable. But the movie belongs to Alan Ladd as Shane. He may not have been the world's greatest actor but he was the greatest actor for this role. His sad countenance has never been better used; and his deep, dead voice is how one would expect a man like Shane to sound. Whether pensive or in fight mode he has about him at all times a quiet authority, and never misuses it. He seems both graceful and exhuasted, and always ready to withdraw, whether from fighting or life in general.
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The director, the cast, the location, the writing, everything lined up perfectly all in the right place at the right time.
minnesotaice22 September 2001
I think that George Stevens's "Shane" as the best film I have ever seen. The reason, in large part, is the great skill of George Stevens. I've liked a number of his films, and I think Shane is his masterpiece. Shane is an elegant film, with an eloquent flow of words, and an uncanny use of unspoken communication. This is something that isn't normally associated with westerns. It is Alan Ladd's portrayal of Shane as the quiet reluctant gunfighter strapping his six-shooter back on to do battle for the beleaguered homesteaders that brings the slow buildup to a climactic confrontation between good and evil that is classic. The colors in any print that you will able to get today, are a little faded, and that's unfortunate, because the images of the craggy peaks of northwest Wyoming, where Stevens shot the film, are the most beautiful in any western ever. I think the backgrounds in this film have as much to do with the greatness of this film as any of the actors. From the beginning, there's that beautiful scenic opening, you get the sense of this ranch house, isolated out there, just stuck out in the middle of the wilderness. You have a sense that this is what it was really like. The same is true of the town. You know that those Western towns really looked like this, and this town is one of the great images in American film. The director, the cast, the location, the writing, everything lined up perfectly all in the right place at the right time, and something beautiful happened. Something that will never be duplicated.
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A Classic Hollywood Movie I Love
Theo Robertson23 August 2002
Warning: Spoilers
***** SPOILERS ******

When discussing the science of screenwriting something that always crops up is the main protagonist`s internal conflict , most specifically the " need " and " desire " lines . If you`re confused what I`m talking about then it can best be explained by the eponymous hero in SHANE who needs to regain his manhood but desires the quiet simple life . The script by Schaefer , Guthrie and Sher is perhaps the definitive script to study for budding screenwriters and it hasn`t escaped my notice that many of the reviewers of this film have also been to film school. None of the film classes I`ve attended have used SHANE as an example of internal conflict but it`s probably the most obvious example of such conflicts within a character

But this isn`t the place to discuss heavy screenwriting theories so I`ll just sum up why I love this film in three words : Script script script . This is an absolutely touching story of a former gunfighter who is falsely labeled a coward by the sodbusters and who has got to do what a man has got to do in order to save the day. Pure Hollywood fable I know but you`ve just got to love the scene where " Sodey pop " walks back into the bar and buys Calloway a drink followed by one of those OTT fist fights that only Hollywood can get away with . Come on admit it we`ve all been on our feet clapping and cheering for Shane in that scene .We get more manipulative Hollywood heart tugging with young Joey Starrett " It ain`t true Shane ain`t yellah " , but come on even a bitter and twisted cynic like me can identify with Joey`s hero worship . And the dialogue is just so memorable: " The next time we fight the air`s gonna be fulla gunsmoke " . And witness the first confrontation between Shane and Calloway:

SHANE : you speaking to me

CALLOWAY : I don`t see nobody else standing there

A line that that has become synonymous with Robert De Niro in TAXI DRIVER . It was Alan Ladd and Ben Johnson who used it first in SHANE more than twenty years earlier.

And we have an ending where good overcomes evil once again . Cliched I know but did you honestly think we`d honestly see a bleak downbeat ending to SHANE ? This is the ultimate feel good movie and that`s why I love it . Strangely the only other westerns I like ( Which are THE WILD BUNCH , THE CULPEPPER CATTLE COMPANY and UNFORGIVEN ) are bleak , downbeat and nihilistic the complete antithesis to SHANE

One last point on internal conflict . I need to stop smoking but I desire cigarettes
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Lavish location effort that set tone for future westerns
Steve-31830 January 2003
Alan Ladd plays the humble hero befriending a pioneer family under attack by hostile forces. Where have we heard that before? So now you can see where everyone else got the idea.

Hollywood worked that plot long before "Shane" but director George Stevens carved out a niche for all time with this picture of conflict on the open west.

First of all, it's visually stunning, much of it shot on location in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Second, it's simple. Farmers want to farm; ranchers want open range. Result: problems.

Great cast helps capture viewer attention. Ben Johnson is a great bully while Van Heflin and Jean Arthur make for the perfect pioneer couple (although there's that little spark between Shane and Arthur). What sets "Shane" apart from previous westerns, of course, was the kid. Brandon DeWilde is the little guy who is just so darn earnest you've got to love him.

But let's not forget the other bad guys. Emile Meyer and John Dierkes play the rotten Ryker brothers with style--despite their low-down ways. Jack Palance is a grinning gunfighter you just want to slap. So it's all very clear--it's a great picture.
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The first best movie I've ever seen!
gordymc19 March 2003
I was young when I first saw this movie. What I saw was two quiet heros, Shane, with the confidence not to have to display it. And another, Joe, who is put to his first test. Both become better men as a result. Joe's son becomes the benefactor of their actions. A classic that I watch every chance I get, like tonight.
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hear them spurs a jangle
allar10030 April 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Shane is a great western, even though it is not really a western, so much as it is a drama set in the old west. A rally cool movie with great performancs all around, and an epic sort of scope that George Stevens always seems to capture. The cinematography is just beautiful, and the acting is pretty good. I just wish we could have seem more of Jack Palance's character.

SPOILER Shane dies at the end, just in case there is any dispute. The last time we see Shane, he is riding into the graveyard. Shane is dead baby.
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One of the Finest Westerns, & Ladd's Signature Role
Snow Leopard26 August 2004
One of the finest of all westerns because of its characters, story, and settings, "Shane" is also Alan Ladd's finest performance. Ladd was in many other enjoyable movies, but Shane is the role that really gives him a chance to show what he could do. Ladd conveys Shane's mixed feelings and internal struggle in a quiet but very effective fashion, and he also makes the character fit in perfectly with the story and the other characters. The rest of the cast is quite good as well, but it is Ladd's performance and the character of Shane that raise it above being just a good story, and that make the viewer feel part of it.

The story is an interesting combination of several familiar themes, with the battle-weary gunslinger getting caught up in the struggle between homesteaders and ranchers, each of whom have their own internal issues. Shane is both an observer and a participant, providing an interesting point of reference. The young boy Joey who idolizes Shane complements Shane's own perspective, and the boy's rather exaggerated responses to events also complement Shane's/Ladd's understated reactions.

The story moves at a good pace and builds up tension nicely, with the cast getting good mileage even out of the simpler characters. By the time that Jack Palance comes on the scene as the sinister gunslinger, the stage has been set for a memorable climax. It still works as well as ever, even when you've seen it a number of times.
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Shane was a true man of the West
perfectbond26 February 2005
As the frontier of the West was pushed relentlessly forward and stakes to valuable tracts of land were competed for sometimes fairly but often underhandedly, it took a rare stock of man to survive and prosper and what's more to do so honorably. Alan Ladd in his signature role as the titular character is one such man. It is difficult for us living in the present to understand just how precarious mere survival was in those days and how arbitrary justice could be towards barely accused and untried persons. Shane knows there is a better way than dispensing justice out of the barrel of a gun and yet he also knows that it is the only way when there is no rule of law. During the ending, after our hero has disposed of his nemesis with the assistance of his young admirer, when Shane rides off into the sunset, both his adopted family and the audience lament the loss of one of the last of the dying noble breed.
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Shane (1953)
Bunuel19763 April 2005
SHANE is one title that always comes up when voting for the Greatest Western of all time, along with other celebrated films such as STAGECOACH (1939), HIGH NOON (1952), THE SEARCHERS (1956), THE WILD BUNCH (1969), etc. Personally, however, while I do admire it a great deal and have watched it a number of times, I wouldn't say it's a particular favorite of mine.

The film is certainly good to look at (Loyal Griggs' cinematography won an Oscar, after all) but it is also quite deliberately paced and, somehow, one feels that director George Stevens intended it to be more than just another Western. It does have some unforgettable scenes (Elisha Cook Jr.'s murder at the hands of Jack Palance, Alan Ladd and Van Heflin's fist-fight, the climactic duel between Ladd and Palance) and performances going for it (Ladd's best role, Palance's star-making turn as the villain) but, like I said, the film is more pretentious than most Westerns if just as enjoyable on the surface.

For all his long-standing (and well-deserved) popularity, Alan Ladd's had a pretty mediocre film career – on a par with Tyrone Power, I'd say – sparked on occasion by a great or interesting film. From what I've seen, apart from SHANE, his finest work would include the three film noirs he did with Veronica Lake, namely THIS GUN FOR HIRE (1942), THE GLASS KEY (1942) and THE BLUE DAHLIA (1946), as well as his atypical supporting turn in THE CARPETBAGGERS (1964) which, unfortunately, also proved to be his swan-song.
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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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A truly "WESTERN" movie of it's time
trevelengiles15 September 2005
Sitting in a South London movie house balcony, in the afternoon, on a slow midweek, with hardly anyone there but my overseas visiting mate and me,expecting to be bored by another one of those tired Alan Ladd movies(it was all there was for us to do that day, but the film was a first run)when suddenly it was SHANE. A basic but gripping story line that drew our minds straight into a true western story... Classic western plots fitting together, family of tired hero, supportive wife, curious son and threatening cattlemen... and when Jack Palance came into view...everything got better still. I think of that classic of westerns almost every week and often hear the boy Brandon calling at the fade out " Shane....Shane..." Ah,those were good times...
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a well-acted, visually beautiful film
tupungato15 January 2006
Reading comments critical of "Shane" reminds me that two people can have much different reactions to the same film. I have seen "Shane" at least 20 times over the last 35 years and still identify with those who think very highly of the movie.

While I know that child actors can sometimes deliver their lines in a forced or self-conscious way, Brandon DeWilde's high-pitched voice does not annoy me, as it does a few people who disliked the movie, and though Alan Ladd may not exude much ruggedness, in my mind his mild-mannered but firm style allow him to more than adequately portray Shane himself.

As for the movie's pace -- too slow for some viewers -- the weekly routine of homesteaders in the 1880's most likely included planting gardens, rebuilding fences, or traveling en masse to the general store. Gun duels on the main street or brawls in the town saloon probably seldom occurred. Even if Shane presents a largely idyllic image of managing a home and farm on the frontier, the lifestyle of many characters comes across as plausible.

That some people consider Shane too devoid of thrills may reveal more of what they require of a movie to feel entertained than what keeps Shane from meriting more acclaim. For me, the awesome natural setting does more to enhance the film than would have any additional action, and the time taken to establish identities and personalities amongst the homesteaders and ranchers serves a fundamental purpose - to show that the residents of an isolated tiny settlement in NW Wyoming find that their uneventful lives have significantly changed after the arrival of a stranger on horseback.

I have sometimes wondered if the viewers critical of Shane were born too recently to feel impressed by a film made so long ago, especially if they had had exceedingly high expectations beforehand because of having read or heard that they were about to see one of the best films of its genre, a classic. At the same time I have also asked myself if those who have nothing but superlatives for Shane would not have responded differently if they had not first seen the movie until the last 5-10 years.

I first saw Shane as an 11 or 12-year old in the late 1960's, when my mother, upon seeing that CBS was going to broadcast Shane as its Tuesday or Thursday movie of the week, made a rare exception and allowed me and my brother to stay up beyond our 9:00 pm bedtime so that we could watch the movie.
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A Movie Anyone Would Like
slaforce24 January 2006
A very good movie, not as well made as my personal favorite (Once Upon A Time In The West), but still a very good movie. This movie is another western that made me feel like I wished I had been born a cowboy. Shane is "so good". "I just love Shane"...stealing a quote from the movie. Shane (Alan Ladd) seems to make you feel at ease without any effort, a real class act, someone you wish you knew personally, and had as a friend. He is the proverbial "good guy". The movie itself is done well, but has only a few real exciting scenes, mostly a display of morals and the struggles of good verses evil. I found some of the characters dialog to be overboard, but not to the excessive. Shane is a very scenic picture, with a few touching moments with Joey, the homesteaders son. I own a copy on video and watch it a couple times a year, Shane is that good. All in all, not to be missed, if you like Alan Ladd or have never seen him before, buy it, rent it, or what for it on TV. It's worth a look.
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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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A Small Masterpiece
evanston_dad7 July 2006
Lauded in its day, "Shane" has since earned the reputation as a ponderous, deconstructivist Western, burdened by George Stevens's penchant for framing every single composition as if he's trumpeting his film as THE great American movie.

I'm not even necessarily saying that the above criticisms aren't justified, but I have to admit that "Shane" works a spell on me, and I found myself fascinated by it. It is a beautiful, sober, elegiac film about an archetypal Western hero who no longer has a place in American cinema. Perhaps the impact of "Shane" has since been blunted by the spate of pseudo-Westerns that appeared in the late 1960s and early 1970s -- "The Wild Bunch," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" -- that deflated the myth of the Western hero, but had the luxury of being more in tune with the anarchic time in which they were produced. People were ready to see the Western deconstructed in that troubled era; in contrast, "Shane" comes much too close to criticizing a genre that conservative America still idealized at the time of its release.

Beyond its stark depiction of a lonesome hero being pushed to the fringes of civilization, too renegade to be domesticated but too soft to keep up with the new breed of sadistic villain, the most shocking element of "Shane" is its acknowledgement of the fact that much of the Western hero's allure was sexual, to both female and male members of the audience. The father in "Shane" is as impressed by Shane's virility as the mother; even the boy responds to it, though he doesn't understand what he's responding to. I'm not saying that there are homosexual implications in the film, but there is definitely an attraction (call it the attraction behind much of male bonding) between Shane and the Van Heflin character, and the film was bold to recognize it, especially during the highly conformist decade of the 1950s.

A brooding, moody film, and a small masterpiece in its own right.

Grade: A
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A Western tragedy of almost Gothic proportions, with Alan Ladd as the quintessential good 'bad' guy...
RJBurke19427 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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farewell to the tradition
winner552 September 2007
Shane George Stevens is not my favorite director. As a fan of James Dean, I thought 'Giant' such a botch and a waste of a great talent, it ought to have been banned. But there's no doubt that in 'Shane' Stevens accomplished something of a miracle.

Of course, there's a lot wrong with the film, and it hasn't aged well because of its flaws. First and foremost is the casting of the young boy actor, one of the most annoying child-actors to be given an important role in any film. Then there are the lag moments of which there are way too many; and the moments of inter-cut between location and sound-stage exteriors are not handled well. Finally, the dialog is just a little too pat, and borders on becoming instant cliché.

So where's the miracle? First and foremost, it's a remarkable story, one of the finest in American film. We know Shane is a loser as soon as he starts working as a farm-hand; he works hard and does it well, but it clearly doesn't suit him; without the conflict with the ranchers, he would eventually have grown restless and moved on. His growing interest in the farmer's wife is another nail in his coffin; in another time and place he would have run off with her, but time has reached a point when he can only hopelessly pine away. So the conflict that brings him back to gunfighting is actually a blessing; it gives him a chance to deal with the fact that his own personality won't allow him the tender mercies of a common farmer's life.

Fleshing out this story are remarkable performances from a remarkable cast (child-actor notwithstanding); gorgeous location photography; fine interior camera work in small spaces; an editing style developing natural visual conflicts between close-ups and full-shots. Stevens also wisely presents the moments of violence in the film in a manner that is flat-on and rapidly paced - there's no effort to make it appear more dramatic than it actually is.

Finally, the theme of the film continues to haunt many of us; it is not simply a farewell to the tradition of the cowboy, the gunslinger, the cattle-rancher; it's the discovery that the great frontiers discovered from the 15th century on have all been well-mapped and closed off. There are no new territories to be explored, and we have entered an era when we need to learn to live with that, and with each other, without violence. 'Shane' allows us a moment to feel regret for that loss, before we must surrender regret as well.
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They Call me Soda Pop
jcohen129 March 2008
I picked up the DVD for $7.99 the other day at Harmon, but I've seen the movie once or twice before. In the past I've come away impressed with the characters and the scenery. Van Heflin, pre 3:10 to Yuma and of course the character actors Ben Johnson, Elisha Cook, Jack Palance & Edgar Buchanan. Costar Jean Arthur is a standout.

This viewing leaves me thinking about all the contradictions you find in Shane, Joey & Joe. Shane is a gunslinger, but very slow to anger or fight. He can work a farm if he has to. Starrett is a farmer but is very able with his fists and nearly fearless. Joey is faced with two fathers and initially leans to the gunfighter side. Marion is also torn between the two men or two sides of a man.

The law is nowhere to be found in this film. Rare for a western with no Sheriff or US Marshal. Gunslingers obviously fill the void.

Last unique element in this film is seeing a badguy- Chris (Ben Johnson) changed to good guy on the basis of a barfight. Sounds hard to believe but it works.

This movie could generate a flood of masters theses. Bottom line, a great movie. Didn't mean to ramble. :-0
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A man has to be what he is Joey, can't break the mould.
hitchcockthelegend2 April 2008
Shane is a weary gunslinger, one day he happens upon a homesteader family and begins to do chores for them, he finds an inner peace that he long thought was behind him. Sadly his peace is short lived because a strong arm cattle baron is determined to drive all the small farmer families off their land, and Shane finds himself drawn into the escalating conflict.

Taken from Jack Schaefer's popular novel, Shane holds up today as one of the most popular revered Westerns because it has mass appeal to the watching public. The main plot strand may be of a simple good versus evil type scenario, but it's the surrounding veins that enthuse the films heart with maximum results. The story plays out through the eyes of a young boy, Joey Starrett, he worships Shane for the guns he can sling, whilst simultaneously not recognising his own father for the honest hard working man that he is, this of course is not lost on the mother of the piece. The family axis then comes to the fore as Shane quickly becomes aware of his moral fortitude, and this gives us a fascinating inner picture to run alongside the outer evil cattle baron versus farmers story. Within this warm family environment Shane hopes to find redemption, but sometimes a man has to do what a mans got to do, and this leads us to the films crowning glory.

Alan Ladd is Shane, wonderfully attired and playing the character with just about the right blend of gusto and tenderness, perhaps dangerously close to stiffening up at times, Ladd however nails it and gives the Western genre one of its ever lasting icons. Van Heflin, Jean Arthu, and Brandon de Wilde play the Starrett family, all of whom come out with much credit, whilst Jack Palance leaves a lasting impression as the dark knight deadly hired gun, Wilson. Brutal yet sweet, and seeping positive morality into the bargain, Shane is a film for the whole family to enjoy, oozing fine work from all involved, it is a smashing and permanently engaging film. Sometimes when one revisits the film it feels like it is the prototype Western, all the genre characters are so vividly evident, but it's a testament to director George Stevens and his crew that Shane holds up to the iconic status it has garnered. Loyal Griggs won the best colour cinematography award at the 1953 Oscars, within three minutes of the opening credits he well and truly deserved it, as good an opening sequence as genre fans like me could wish for, and of course the rest of the fabulous Big Bear Lake location in California is sumptuously filmed.

Both as a technical piece of work and as a shrewd story of some standing, Shane deserves every bit of praise that has come its way over the years, oh yes!. 9/10
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He was his own man
Aglaope7 April 2008
Shane was ahead of its time for the early 1950's, and one must remember that when watching it. It may be thought to be riddled with clichés,but to a certain extent it made those clichés.

A quiet stranger (Shane) comes to town. He befriends a family (The Starretts), and takes a job with them as a farm hand. The family all fall for the stranger, each in their own way. The mother flirts, the son hero worships and the father has a friend to take on challenges with.

The stranger, Shane, soon discovers that the local quiet is being threatened by a large cattle rancher (Ryker), who feels he has a claim on the area because he first settled it, and now the small farmers are fencing off land, using the water and making things generally more difficult for him.

The rancher tries many ways to get the small farmers to leave or give up and work for him, he sees Joe Starrett as their leader and he tries to negotiate.

Shane tries hard not to be drawn into the local squabble. However, problems escalate, and Ryker hires a gunfighter (Jack Wilson). Shane feels he doesn't need to prove anything to anybody, but his growing friendship for the family sees him drawn in. Once drawn in he knew there was no going back.

Jack Palance is excellent as demonic bad guy Jack Wilson. There was the air of inevitability when he entered the scene.
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