SHANE (COLOUR, 1953)
Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Brandon De Wilde, Van Heflin, Ben Johnson, Jack Palance, Edgar Buchanan, Paul McVey, Emile Meyer and Elisha Cook, Jr.
7 and up
Shane (Ladd) is a drifter and ex-gunfighter who one day wants to cross through a settlement in the old west. He meets the Starrett family, which comprises of Marian (Arthur), her son Joey (De Wilde) and husband (Heflin), who have had trouble with the powerful Ryker clan, led by Rufus (Meyer), who wants the land for himself. The clan also includes of hired gunfighter Jack Wilson (Palance) and Chris Calloway (Johnson) and the clan associates itself with store owner Sam Grafton (McVey). The townsmen pool their resources together and help each other and protect each other from the Ryker clan. Rufus, upon learning this, asks Jack to kill one of them, Stonewall Torrey (Cook) and burns the house of Fred Lewis (Buchanan), another man who wants to take action. Now, Shane convinces himself he should help this town before moving on.
|Alan Ladd as Shane (Left) and Brandon De Wilde (Right) in the western Shane.|
Why it’s good:
It is one of the world’s slowest, atmospheric and moodiest westerns. Before this, westerns usually had action, leaving little space for a dramatic landscape. This one, though, can manage to do just that
As the film advances, Shane becomes more heroic. Morally and physically, Shane is quite a hero in both categories.
The supporting roles are played by extremely great actors. Marian is played by Jean Arthur who had just escaped the wrath of veteran director Frank Capra. Brandon De Wilde as the young Joey is an absolute genius, with a best supporting Oscar nomination in hand. Van Heflin plays Joe, Marian’s husband, Jack Palance plays Jack Wilson the hired gun and Emile Meyer plays the role of Rufus, the ultimate bad guy.
But the actors do not give this film its ultimate pleasure. The pleasure shines through the laws of Western film-making, the world disappearing into a place in the past, with its atmosphere still there in fruitfulness.
Bits of Western violence, a bar fight goes on at Grafton’s store. It involves punching and the use of wooden chairs. Later, Heflin uses a long stick and charges into the bar. In the end, Shane has a shootout with Rufus and Jack Wilson. In one scene, one of the men in the Ryker clan shoots Stonewall Torrey as he walks pass.
This was Jean Arthur’s final film. George Stevens wanted, originally, for Shane to be played by Montgomery Clift and Marian’s husband to be played by William Holden. Unfortunately, they went for other projects.
If you like this…:
Alan Ladd’s Proud Rebel (1958) is another good western.