Director: George Stevens
Running time: 118 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): PG
USA Release date: 23rd April 1953
Watched on Sky+ Saturday 1st October 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
As those that have read my reviews before will know I’m not a big fan of Westerns, but those that are fans always quote ‘Shane’ as being a great example. Well, it finally landed on my TV screen this week and was duly recorded for this viewing. I will say it did have its moments, but I can’t say it’s won me over. I’ll give you my thoughts after this brief summary.
When a lone rider, Shane, rides onto the homestead of Joe Starrett, he didn’t realise he was about to become embroiled in a land war. Joe, along with wife, Marion, and son, Joey, are living on land claimed by cattlemen Rufus and Morgan Ryker and the Ryker’s want it back. Joe hires Shane to help him on the farm and he is introduced to the other homesteaders in the area. It seems that one by one they are being moved off their claims. Deciding there might be strength in numbers, they go into town together as a group. Shane has a run-in with one of Ryker’s men which eventually results in them bringing in hired help. This leaves Shane with a dilemma, does he go back to the ways he was trying to get away from in order to protect those he had, by now, come to love and respect. Well, I’ll leave you hanging there or the Spoiler Police will be trackin’ me down across the prairie.
Some great cinematography which, for its day, I found quite refreshing. The music, well, not my cup of tea, but I guess it was ok. Performance-wise, I thought all the main cast did a really good job; Alan Ladd was excellent as Shane, as were Jean Arthur as Marion Starrett and Van Heflin as Joe Starrett. Brandon De Wilde played Joey and Jack Palance (interestingly billed as ‘Walter Jack Palance’) was the hired gun, Jack Wilson. I should also mention Emile Meyer as Rufus Ryker, John Dierkes as Morgan Ryker and Paul McVey as Sam Grafton.
I must admit I was surprised at how even-handed the politics of the plot were handled. The reasons for the actions of both sides were well explained and I can see why this one gets the praise it does. For me though, it didn’t quite come off, I found the attention spent on the boy Joey very annoying and didn’t see exactly how it moved the plot along. There are some great fight sequences though and some beautiful scenery. It was just too long though, there seemed to be an awful lot of ‘filler’, and it was a little over melodramatic for my tastes. I can see why Western fans like this film, but sadly it didn’t quite hit the mark for me.
My Score: 6.5/10.
IMDb Score: 7.8/10 (based on 15,483 votes at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97/100 (based on 29 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
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Shane: You speaking to me?
Chris Calloway: I don't see nobody else standing there.
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.