Shane (1953)

DailyView: Day 228, Movie 316

I watched one of the classic Westerns today for the DailyView. It was 1953’s Shane. Shane tells the Western trope of a gunslinger trying to stop living the life and start something new only to have someone or something pull him back into the violence. We have seen it in Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven right up to the X-Men’s Logan.

Shane was available to watch on Hulu, and so I played it. I have been familiar with the story of Shane, but I have never actually sat down to view it.

Directed by George Stevens, Shane featured Alan Ladd, Jack Palance, Jean Arthur and Van Heflin.

Mysterious gunfighter Shane (Alan Ladd) arrived in a town where a group of people who have claimed their lands legally, but were being pressured by a vicious land baron Ryker (Emile Ryker) to leave their land. Shane met the Starrett family, Joe (Van Heflin), Marian (Jean Arthur) and their son Joey (Brandon De Wilde) and started to work for them. Unfortunately, Ryker was escalating things as time passed that would force the mysterious past of Shane to come back to the present.

The film does a great job of setting up the conflict and it does an admirable job of creating the antagonists as well as the protagonists.. Ryker is the clear villain, but he is anything but a mustache-twirling stereotype. In fact, he is shown as a person who wants to compromise with Joe and Shane. Of course, he is compromising from a position of privilege, and he takes measures that are anything but cooperative.

One of those measures is hiring Jack Wilson (Jack Palance) as a potential hitman, pointing him in the direction of people who would not agree to his terms. Wilson was notorious and extremely quick on the draw.

The ending was tense and exciting. Shane showed many of the tropes of the Western and became an inspiration for many of the Westerns that come after it.

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