Shane Classic Movie Review
- Friday, December 06, 2002
Rating: Not Rated
Release Date: 1953
Actors: Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin, Brandon De Wilde
Director: George Stevens
Run Time: 1 hr. 57 min.
There's nothing like a good western, and here's one of my personal favorites that only gets better with age. George Stevens, one of Hollywood's finest directors, extracts tremendous performances from perfectly cast actors, featuring characters wonderfully realized by the stars.
Shane (Ladd) is a gun fighter seeking a quieter life when he comes across the homestead of a family struggling to survive in the harsh (but beautiful) Big Sky country. Starrett (Heflin) and his wife (Jean Arthur) have a young son (De Wilde) who immediately becomes fascinated with the strange, quiet visitor who packs a pistol.
You can almost feel Shane's terrible loneliness as he observes this little family at work and at play. And even though there's an undeniable attraction between Shane and Mrs. Starrett, the script keeps everything on a purely platonic basis, leaving us to deeply respect these decent people drawn together by common values. (The children won't notice this, but Mom and Dad will.)
The basic conflict in the story, however, involves a notorious landowner who will stop at nothing to force the homesteaders out of the valley. He brings in a hired gun (a cold, cunning killer masterfully played by Jack Palance in one of his most villainous roles)--a man whose skill can only be matched by "you know who". This element of the story has been done many times before, but the personal elements described above make it special.
There's not a lot of action, but what's there is well done. I don't think children above the age of 8 or 9 will be bored.
I love this movie. It's got everything you'd want for a wonderful family evening in front of the TV. When it's over, you'll be wondering why Hollywood stopped making great films like this one.
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