Reviews for Shane ( 1953 ) 720p

A touching western with awesome cinematography.

By: Fella_shibby
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.

Irony, irony, and more irony

By: A_Different_Drummer
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.

Highly watchable Western in which a drifter resolves a conflict between a bunch of settlers and wealthy owner

By: ma-cortes
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¨.

No More Guns In The Valley

By: bkoganbing
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.

One of the best dozen or so movies ever made, of any genre.

By: grytedg
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.

Shane Leaves Powerful Memories

By: ccthemovieman-1
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!

Hell Bent For Leather

By: ramblin-jack
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.

The best Western of all time!

By: Jonrein-2
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!!!!!!!!

Simple peaceful lifestyles threatened by land grabbing ranchers and sinister gunslinger, saved by a weary reluctant gunslinger.

By: terminator-3
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.

A masterpiece of filmmaking

By: FlickJunkie-2
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.

Much More Than a Western

By: T-Boy-3
"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.

A Lyrical Celebration Of Nascent American Communal Society, And A Lament For The Death Of The Frontier

By: stryker-5
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!"

Shane is a beautifully photographed film with excellent performances.

By: Slim-4
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.