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  • Writer's pictureThomas Duncan

Shane (1953) ft. Kieran B.


Guest: Kieran B (Host of the Best Picture Cast)


Cast:

  • George Stevens, Director

  • A.B. Guthrie, Jr., Writer

  • Victor Young, Music

  • Alan Ladd as Shane

  • Jean Arthur as Marian Starrett

  • Van Heflin as Joe Starrett

  • Brandon deWilde as Joey Starrett

  • Jack Palance as Jack Wilson

  • Ben Johnson as Chris Calloway

  • Edgar Buchanan as Fred Lewis

  • Emile Meyer as Rufus Ryker

  • Elisha Cook Jr. as Frank "Stonewall" Torrey

  • Douglas Spencer as Axel 'Swede' Shipstead

  • John Dierkes as Morgan Ryker

  • Ellen Corby as Mrs. Liz Torrey

  • Paul McVey as Sam Grafton

  • John Miller as Will Atkey

*Recognition:

  • Based on a book of the same name by Jack Schaefer, Shane was released on April 23, 1953.

  • Though box office numbers were not yet tracked like they are now, it is believed that Shane grossed around $20 million at the domestic box office and an additional $13 million internationally placing it inside the top 5 of 1953.

  • Shane was nominated for several Academy Awards including Best Picture, Director (Stevens), Supporting Actor (Palance and deWilde), and Adapted Screenplay (Guthrie), but would only win for Best Color Cinematography.

  • The film would go on to spawn a TV show in the 1960s, be an influence for other films across the world, as well as inspire several well known industry giants such as Sam Peckinpah and Woody Allen.

  • In 1993, the film was selected for preservation in the United States' National Film Registry.

  • The film would also be recognized by the AFI on the following lists:

    • AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies: No. 69

    • AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition): No. 45

    • AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains: Shane, Hero No. 16

    • AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes: "Shane. Shane. Come back!", No. 47

    • AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers: No. 53

    • AFI's 10 Top 10: No. 3 Western

  • Shane currently holds a 97% among critics on RT, an 85 score on Metacritic, and a 3.7/5 on Letterboxd.

What is this movie about?/Elevator Pitch: Structurally, it's a good v. evil, corporate v. small interests, David v. Goliath picture, but, in it's essence, it's something more in that Shane is a Messianic figure that swoops in to save the day, but has to use a method or means which were on the "way out" in the old west.


Plot Summary: "Shane" (1953), directed by George Stevens, is a poignant exploration of morality, redemption, and the inevitable clash between civilization and the untamed frontier.

Set against the sweeping vistas of Wyoming, "Shane" introduces us to the titular stranger, played with mesmerizing intensity by Alan Ladd.


A mysterious and stoic figure, Shane becomes embroiled in the conflict between homesteaders and a powerful cattle baron, personified by the menacing Jack Wilson (Jack Palance). At the heart of the narrative is the Starrett family, whose lives are forever altered by Shane's arrival. The nuanced performances of Van Heflin and Jean Arthur as Joe and Marian Starrett lend emotional depth to the film, portraying the struggles of ordinary pioneers caught in the crossfire of progress and greed.


Stevens' directorial prowess is evident in every frame, as he skillfully captures the stark beauty of the landscape while delving into the complex dynamics of human relationships. The film's iconic moments, such as the unforgettable gunfight in the saloon and the poignant farewell scene, are elevated by Loyal Griggs' cinematography and the haunting score by Victor Young. "Shane" stands as a timeless exploration of the human condition, transcending its Western trappings to become a universal tale of sacrifice and honor.


Did You Know:

  • Principal photography had been completed in October 1951, but the amount of coverage shot by George Stevens resulted in such an extremely protracted editing process that the film wasn't released until August 1953. All this drove up the costs of what should have been a simple, straightforward Western; in fact, they spiraled so much that Paramount approached Howard Hughes about taking on the property, but he declined. He changed his mind when he saw a rough cut and offered to buy the film on the spot. This made Paramount rethink its strategy--originally it was going to release it as a "B" picture but then decided it should be one of the studio's flagship films of the year. This proved to be a good decision, as the film was a major success and easily recouped its inflated budget.

  • Jean Arthur, then age 50, came out of semi-retirement to play Marian Starrett, largely as a favor to her friend, director George Stevens. She would retire completely from the film business after this picture.

  • In the funeral scene, the dog consistently refused to look into the grave. Finally, director George Stevens had the dog's trainer lie down in the bottom of the grave, and the dog played his part ably. The coffin, loaded with rocks for appropriate effect, was then lowered into the grave, but when the harmonica player began to play "Dixie" spontaneously, the crew was so moved by the scene that they began shoveling dirt into the grave before remembering that a live person was still down there.

  • Van Heflin and Alan Ladd became firm friends during the making of the film. In later years, Heflin's wife said one of the very rare times she ever saw her husband cry was when he learned of Ladd's premature death.

  • The first gunshots in the film are when Shane shows Joey how to fire a revolver. To enhance the dramatic effect of the shooting, the sounds of the gunshots were elevated by firing a gun into a garbage pail. The echoed reverberations made the gunfire sounds much louder. George Stevens' intention was to startle the audience with the first firing of a gun.

Best Performance: George Stevens (Director)

Best Secondary Performance: Loyal Griggs (Cinematographer)/Van Heflin (Starrett)/Jean Arthur (Marian)

Most Charismatic Award: Alan Ladd (Shane)/Jack Palance (Wilson)

Best Scene:

  • Shane Drifts In

  • Shane's First Time at Grafton's

  • Farmers Unite

  • Calloway and Shane

  • Ryker Makes an Offer

  • How to Shoot

  • Torrey Killed

  • Funeral

  • Shane Fights Starrett

  • Final Showdown

  • Come Back

Favorite Scene: Ryker Makes an Offer/Torrey Killed/Calloway and Shane

Most Indelible Moment: Come Back


In Memorium:

  • Marcello Marziali, 84, Italian actor (Under the Tuscan Sun, Roberto Begnini's Pinocchio)

  • Shane MacGowan, 65, Irish Singer/Songwriter (Frontman for The Pogues - Fairytale of New York, A Pair of Brown Eyes)

  • Norman Lear, 101, American writer, producer, and activist (All in the Family, Maude, Good Time, The Jeffersons, Stand by Me, This is Spinal Tap, The Princess Bride, and Fried Green Tomatoes) - 6x Emmy Winner, One of the seven original inductees into the TV Hall of Fame in 1984 (he entered with David Sarnoff, William S. Paley, Edward R. Murrow, Paddy Chayefsky, Lucille Ball and Milton Berle), received an Oscar screenplay nomination for Divorce American Style (1967).

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Shane: A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that.

Marian Starrett: We'd all be much better off if there wasn't a single gun left in this valley - including yours.


Shane: Do you mind putting down that gun? Then I'll leave.

Joe Starrett: What difference does it make, you're leaving anyway?

Shane: I'd like it to be my idea.


Shane: I gotta be going on.

Joey: Why, Shane?

Shane: A man has to be what he is, Joey. Can't break the mould. I tried it and it didn't work for me.

Joey: We want you, Shane.

Shane: Joey, there's no living with... with a killing. There's no going back from one. Right or wrong, it's a brand. A brand sticks. There's no going back. Now you run on home to your mother, and tell her... tell her everything's all right. And there aren't any more guns in the valley.


Chris Calloway: I guess you don't hear very well, sodbuster. I thought I told you if you wanted to keep healthy, to stay outta here. Now, get goin'. Look, pig farmer, you better get back inside with the women and kids where it's safe.

Shane: Don't push it, Calloway.


Shane: So you're Jack Wilson.

Jack Wilson: What's that mean to you, Shane?

Shane: I've heard about you.

Jack Wilson: What have you heard, Shane?

Shane: I've heard that you're a low-down Yankee liar.

Jack Wilson: Prove it.


Rufus Ryker: I like Starrett, too. I'll kill him if I have to. I tell you, I'll kill him if I have to.

Jack Wilson: You mean I'll kill him if you have to.


Marian Starrett: You're both out of your senses. This isn't worth a life, anybody's life. What are you fighting for? This shack, this little piece of ground, and nothing but work, work, work? I'm sick of it. I'm sick of trouble. Joe, let's move. Let's go on. Please!


Joe Starrett: That's one thing a married man has got to get used to, is waitin' for women.


Shane: You know, I... I like a man who watches things go on around. It means he'll make his mark someday.


Joey: I hate you, Shane!


The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 7.33

Impact/Significance: 8.83

Novelty: 8.83

Classic-ness: 8.5

Rewatchability: 6.17

Audience Score: 8.3 (85% Google, 81% RT)

Total: 47.96


Remaining Questions:

  • Where did Shane come from and where does he go?

  • It's heavily implied that Shane has killed before. Thus, why does he have to leave now because he killed again? If he was acceptable to them after he'd killed before, why not now?

  • Why does Joey idolize Shane?

  • How does Joey keep up with Shane at the end?

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