Shane - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Shane Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ November 6, 2009
The dazzling cinematography that explores the bucolic and idyllic landscapes, together with the strong ensemble cast, contributes to make this an unforgettable Western tale about a complex, divided hero and the relationship that he develops with a peaceful family.
Super Reviewer
January 7, 2012
Often considered a high watermark for the western genre, and an integral part of the mythologizing of the Old West, this is George Stevens's production of that age -old story of a rugged loner who, bound by a sense of honor and decency, finds himself returning to a life he long abandoned and vowed to never return to, but does, because he realizes there is a greater good in it, even if it weighs heavy on his soul.

In simple terms (as this is a simple and straightforward movie), this is about a loner and retired gunfighter named Shane who one day comes across the land of a simple homesteader, and stays to help defend the man against a wealthy cattle baron and his thuggish hired guns.

Even when this was released, the story was nothing new, and yet, there's a very endearing quality about it that makes it hard not to like. I am underwhelmed by it, as I didn't end up loving it like I've been told I should, but relax, I still liked it, even if it did sorta let me down.

Part of the reason may be because of the fact that the stroy is so simple and straight forward. There's nothing really complex or deep on display, although I was suprprised by the ambiguity and maturity of the ending. I wasm't expecting that, but I do really appreciate it. Now, I had the final scene spoiled for me many tiems before, but seeing it in context it was really makes it work, and where the ambiguity comes in. I figured given the time period, it would have been more neat, tidy, and on the nose, but I won't complain with how they decided to do it. Despite the simplicity of the rest of it though, the film sure feels a lot longer than two hours, and the drawn out-ness could have been used to greater effect. Either that or cut the running time down to the bare essentials.

Despite the above nit picking though, this is a pretty solid film. The casting is good, and the performances are quite good. Alan Ladd is terrific as Shane, Jack Palance is in good form as the thug Jack Wilson, and even the little kid Brandon De Wilde isn't annoying enough to derail thigngs. Plus, the cinematogrpahy is just excellent, and I can see why it got so much acclaim back in the day.

The film might be pure cliched formula, and perhaps a tad too sentimental and simple, but it is quite charming, and it has artistic merit. Even though it is overrated and underwhelming (mostly), I still recommend it, as it did help shape popular perception of the west and westerns in a significant way.
Kyle F.
Super Reviewer
August 8, 2011
Shane, for the most part, fails to entertain or to offer high-quality story telling, which makes me wonder why we all consider it one of the great classics. You'll probably have more fun watching most other early westerns.
Super Reviewer
October 7, 2007
Shots of Shane (Alan Ladd) as a speck in a vast landscape add a mythic quality. What follows is a blow-by-blow account of the clash between cattle barons and homesteaders in a community where the gun rules. The stark close-ups of the young boy, Shane's adoring acolyte, are surprisingly eloquent. Restrained portrayals from Ladd and an excellent cast make this 1953 film more than bar-room brawls, even though there are plenty of those - the film starts violently and only grows more ominous.
Director George Stevens proves again that he is master of fearsomely beautiful environment - and at not letting lurid technicolour overhelm his story.
Super Reviewer
January 11, 2009
A little TOO sentimental to edge out The Searchers or High Noon on my list of favorite westerns, but still one of the genre's best.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
½ January 11, 2010
Beautiful, sprawling landscapes, evil villains (as played by Jack Palance) and of course the almost superhuman Shane are all factors that go into making this an above average western. Maybe we're seeing everything through the eyes of little joe, though, and Shane and his dad aren't really the supermen they appear to be, but merely are the interpretation of the wide-eyed child. Much like the wandering samauri of Kurosawa's films, Shane comes to the aid of the poor settlers, not expecting any reward other than that of justice served for a righteous cause. This is all a basic re-interpretation of the ancient greek myths, of a hero who through strength and cunning, defeats almost insurmountable odds. Ryker (Emile Meyer) isn't necessarily evil, he's just a cattleman looking after his own best interests, and is seeing his era coming to an end. In that way, Shane see much of himself in Ryker. It seems as though differences could be settled through talking, and yet it's destined to end in bloodshed. The question of whether Shane rides off in the end and lives to fight another day or dies soon after from his wounds is moot: he knows his kind are on their way out, and he's done one last good thing in payment for all the bad he (may have) done.
Super Reviewer
May 4, 2007
Elisha Cook Jr. is the Kenny of his generation.

Great performances all round. Kudos to a young Jack Palance as well.
Super Reviewer
½ May 31, 2007
One of those films all hail as an all time classic, and as such, I kept feeling that I should be liking it more. But for me, the family dynamic was too steretypical and apple pie, and I found the story simplistic and uninvolving. I am clearly a philestine.
Super Reviewer
January 31, 2007
Another classic "death of the West" film; they rarely make them like this anymore. Not a lot of flash, Shane plays out as a slowly paced dirge for the days of the Wild West, now giving way to "civilization." Shane is of the old breed: the problem solver whose best argument is to be quickest on the draw. Shane really must leave in the end because the dawning "modern" world holds no place for him. Alan Ladd's understated and thoughtful performance makes this a truly great movie. Jean Arthur's final fllm : ( Perhaps she was not one who wanted to leave when she'd found the bottom of her career, or maybe she was struck by the idea that it might not be good to see her aging self chronicled on the big screen. Maybe we'll never know why she walked away from the business. Hey, and why not go out when you're on top? Jack Palance: a villain for the ages. Man, was he ever a deep dark persona.
Super Reviewer
November 5, 2006
One of the better westerns ever made. The last shot is amazing.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ June 23, 2014
"Shane, you say it's all over, for you and me, girl!" Maybe that Jefferson Starship reference isn't especially fitting, because it's kind of hard to think of Shane as a girl's name, and it doesn't help that the only female Shane who comes to mind is the lead lesbian on "The L Word". Well, boys, make no mistake, this is the true definitive edgy Shane... or at least about as edgy as he can be in 1953, and not on Showtime. Hey, you know that this film was pushing envelopes as a '50s western just by looking at the cast list, because it had the guts to not feature John Wayne... although it does feature his forehead on Alan Ladd and Van Heflin. Seriously though, I was kind of thinking that this would be a little heavier, because, come on, we're talking about George Stevens, and the film he did right after this one was a big, three-and-a-half-hour-long epic, and it was only about some Texas rancher hanging out with his family. Hey, I like "Giant", but you at least get some real gunfighting in this film set somewhere in a civilized desert, and it doesn't need to take three hours to get around to it. I'd say that we should embrace the shorter George Stevens dramas, but quite frankly, while this film is very decent, I honestly prefer the seriously overdrawn efforts after this one, which isn't to say that this drama doesn't outstay its welcome at times.

Although I give this film credit for being tighter than George Stevens' following major dramas, the final product still tends to drag to its two-hour runtime, with bits and pieces of aimless filler that drag down momentum almost as much as, of all things, the soundtrack. It is awkward to criticize the film's usage of Victor Young's score, but greater awkwardness is found within the flow of a lot of scenes, due to the rare abating of atmospheric scoring which grows repetitious once you get so used to the recurring musicality that its eventual extended abandonment proves to be tonally jarring. The plays on the musical tones are made all the more awkward when musical tone is overblown, shaking subtlety by stressing certain tonal beats that are already abrasive enough in the plotting on paper. A few melodramatic beats are mighty hard to ignore in a plot so genuine in so many ways, sort of cheesing up an intriguing drama with now-dated sensibilities that weren't even unique for the time. There are some refreshing elements, but when conventions hit, they hit near-crushingly hard, sending the film down a formulaic path that, while not exactly predictable, is too familiar for you to ignore the thin areas in the narrative formula. Yes, people, when you come down to it, through all of its dragging and tonal bloating, this film's storytelling is ultimately dealing with subject matter that takes too long to kick up, rather than limp along with natural shortcomings as a conceptually minimalist western that, when further shaken up by hiccups to the interpretation of a somewhat light story, fails to transcend underwhelmingness. Of course, the final product does still come close enough to engage just fine through and through, with some solid highlights, even in scoring.

Again, Victor Young's score is formulaic and tonally overwrought, and worse than that, its overusage is exhaustingly abusive, yet it would be more aggravating if the score wasn't of quality, with a classic color that is both entertaining and aesthetically appealing. Loyal Griggs' Oscar-winning cinematography is also attractive, being also more subtle, yet nonetheless realized enough in its moderate grit to catch your eye and compliment locations that are celebrated well enough to be near-immersive in this film which doesn't indeed rely a fair deal on its settings. Style is subtle, but decent, just as substance is subtle, but decent, for although this study on rising bitter relations between a settler and his peers, is overdrawn, melodramatic and minimalist, it's still intriguing, with a certain edge that is done justice by a script by A.B. Guthrie Jr. that isn't too refreshing, but fresh in enough places to hold a dramatic sharpness. This inspiration is further reflected in an overblown directorial performance by George Stevens that, when genuinely realized, engages with tension and resonance that has stood the test of time well enough to bring in some mighty memorable highlights. The highlights are too sparse for the final product to achieve their reward value on the whole, but they still mark enough glimpses into potential to craft a reasonably compelling character study, sold further by character portrayals. The material is dated, but still solid enough to beget solid performances across the board (Well, I did want to strangle the seriously annoying Brandon deWilde on a number of occasions), with Alan Ladd, - as a weary and well-intentioned, but flawed settler - Van Heflin - as a family man who begins to fear for the safety of his loved ones - and the lovely Jean Arthur - as a loving wife who also fears for her home and peers - all sharing layered chemistry that sells a sense of progression in this tense drama about as much as anything. Really, most all the strengths in this drama are a little overrated, but they're plentiful, maybe not enough to overcome the shortcomings, yet still enough for the final product to at least border as rewarding.

When it's all said and done, an excessive length and, oddly enough, usage of scoring, in addition to some histrionics, plenty of conventions and a great deal of natural shortcomings render the final product kind of underwhelming, but with solid scoring, cinematography and locations, some edgy storytelling, and plenty of strong performances, George Stevens' "Shane" stands as an at least borderline rewardingly compelling, if improvable western drama.

2.75/5 - Decent
Super Reviewer
March 17, 2014
On top of a hidden wooden stool, Alan Ladd rides high in one of the most beloved Westerns of all time. Although he was eclipsed by many others with a longer history of westerns, Ladd becomes legendary for a single role in the Ole West
Super Reviewer
February 1, 2012
While I'm not quite in the camp that considers it to be on the short list for the best westerns ever made (Rio Bravo and Once Upon A Time In the West top my list), it is certainly a great one. The technical aspects of the film are top notch, beautifully shot and well acted. It features a surprisingly nuanced script, one that seems like a simple morality play but has deeper, psychological themes beneath it. It's smarter than the great majority of westerns of its time, but still has a predictable and familiar climax and ending. Defintely belongs in the discussion for the best westerns of the 50s, especially early 50s, but probably comes just a notch under High Noon.

4/5 Stars
Super Reviewer
May 5, 2010
This classic Western focuses on a bitter feud between the local homesteaders and the cattlemen who want to drive them off the land to make gazing room for their cattle. Alan Ladd plays Shane, a former gun slinger apparently running from his past, who meets a family of settlers trying to eke out a living despite a land-owner Rufus Ryker's (Emile Meyer), claim that the land is his! Shane decides to stay with the family and to work for Joe Starret, quickly becoming accepted by the family, especially little Joey (Brandon De Wilde), who idolizes Shane for his skill as a gunfighter. His skill becomes handy as Ryker's actions become more and more violent towards the homesteaders. This movie is about friendship, love, supporting and helping out each other.
Critique Threatt
Super Reviewer
December 28, 2012
A masterpiece. Some people might like this due to the strong use of violence. Although for me, I enjoyed the story of the character Shane played by Alan Ladd and the young child who keeps calling out Shane's name. It's a tender story that turns into hard bloodshed in a time when people were just trying to keep their homes from ruthless barbarians. That's when Shane steps in and in a way he is fighting for the working man while trying to put an end to the mayhem. There's not much about Shane's past except that he once killed a man? Comes into question and yet, Shane wants to wash away his sins and start a new life by helping the Starrett family. Try to study the character Shane. He's pretty fascinating.
Super Reviewer
½ June 29, 2012
Age has not been kind to "Shane." It's one of the most dated films I have ever seen, and because of this, it's very hard to give an appropriate review. Technical flaws are obvious and are so plentiful in number that it doesn't make any sense to continue pointing them out, and while Loyal Griggs' cinematography is beautiful at times, it doesn't quite define the term 'legendary.' Alan Ladd and Van Heflin are both great in their roles, but they are constantly undermined by equally bad performances, especially the one delivered by Brandon De Wilde. I can't fault "Shane" for this though. It's a charming Western, made with the kind of innocence that you're not likely to find in films nowadays. It's a pleasurable way to spend a good two hours, and even though George Stevens' direction is dripping with schmaltz, I'm not so much of a cynic that I didn't enjoy myself.
Lord Naseby
Super Reviewer
June 20, 2011
This is one that I have needed to watch for eons and now I finally have. I can move on to High Noon sometime in the near future too.

Acting/characters: Anyone who has seen this movie knows that Alan Ladd steals the show playing the titular character. However that is not to take away from the rest of the cast at all. I mean, Ladd has to be the best in the show because he's the titular character. It's a testament to his performance that he manages to be the best character but he hardly ever says a word. No more than 2 or 3 sentences every so often. I can't imagine how they found the actor to play the kid. He was pretty good even if he was stunningly annoying at times. But int he end, it all came down to Shane. Even if he didn't say much and even if the movie didn't focus on him all the time, he still carried the whole thing and did a good job of it. 10/10

Plot: It's not something that is uncommon for a Western. Gunfights, fistfights, poor homesteaders, evil gunslingers, lone hero etc. My film class delved into how the Western is totally an American genre. No one does westerns like America. Yes you have films like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, but it's really an all-American genre. That and debatabley the Slasher film but that's off topic. It's a formula that has served the Western well. Shane uses that to great effect here. But the homesteaders here aren't completely defenseless (some are, and some are just stupid). However, despite the fact that this movie is called 'Shane' it isn't about him very much. He's just kinda there. But it really does work. 10/10

Screenplay: SHANE, SHANE COME BACK!! Yeah, you've all heard that line. If not you have now. It really does work. Like I said before, the screenplay doesn't give Shane very many lines. But the screenwriter made sure the lines he did have were really good. There were other really good lines too.

"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."

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

excellent stuff. 10/10

Likableness: Shane is an excellent film and I would highly suggest it to anyone, Western fan or not. If nothing else than for Ladd's performance. If good performances doesn't float your boat, then the gunfights and the fistfights in this movie should do it for you (even though there aren't a lot). it is a very well done film. You should all see it if you have not. 10/10

Final Score: 40/40 100% (N)
Tomatometer score: 97%
Tomatometer score if I was added: 97%

TRIVIA TIME: 1. At the time of filming, Jack Palance was not comfortable with horses. The one good mount he achieved during the numerous takes was used in the film.

2. 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 "Taps" spontaneously, the crew was so moved by the scene that they began shoveling dirt into the grave before remembering the dog's trainer was still there.

3. Jean Arthur was over 50 years old when she played Marian Starrett (and this was her last film) - she was, in fact, ten years older than Emile Meyer, who plays grizzled old cattle baron Rufus Ryker.

4. According to the commentary on the DVD, during the scene where Shane and Joe are fighting in the corral, the tied horses were supposed to panic. To instill hysteria in the horses, the director had two men dressed in a bear costumes to scare them.

5. Jean Arthur, a committed animal lover, took it upon herself to personally inspect the conditions that the film's roster of livestock were being kept in. If they wasn't up to her satisfaction, she would ensure that the matter was rectified.

6. When writer A.B. Guthrie Jr. came on board the project, he didn't know what a screenplay looked like.

7. The scene where Alan Ladd practices shooting in front of Brandon De Wilde took 119 takes to complete.

8. During the bar fight between Shane and Calloway, the off-screen voice that says "knock him back the pig-pen" is that of George Stevens.
Super Reviewer
October 26, 2009
Immaculate. Stevens has been praized for his talent for composition, and here one can see why: every shot is elegantly framed and looks as if painted to perfection by a great master. The level of sophistication of this film has left me speachless for two hours. And then, there is the story, that's slowly tossing and turning, but taking its own natural pace until the inevitable final stand-off. I really can't find enough words for praize, I think, and also I won't start criticizing the subjects the film touches right now, cause if I do this I will be still here writing till tomorrow morning and still it won't be enough!
Super Reviewer
November 3, 2010
(I'm currently writing this review with a certain heartache, that which came from being branded(wrongfully without proof) as a plagiarist...)

So on with my review of "Shane":

Though it's stupid as it may sound, part of the reason why I do not like to watch this film before was the almost zero appeal of its poster(it does look very cheap, with Alan Ladd as if purposely looking sideways for the camera)considering the heights that "Shane" had reached ever since). But then I found out, after watching it, that it's one of the more contemplative of "old" westerns, that which dwells not just in common sentiments of former gunfighters being passed by time, but also in the crisis of decisions, the choice to act, and its consequences. Shane is a character unlike any other mythical gunslingers that has graced the silver screens; here is a man not hardened by past violence, but shaken, guilt-ridden, and traumatized by it(it's also the primary theme of Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven"). Alan Ladd is heroic, straight, and enigmatic enough for the eponymous role, though in my opinion, he's often overshadowed by Van Heflin's performance as Joe Starrett. Given that more serious westerns has been rising in the mainstream at the time(such as "The Ox-Bow Incident" and its unforgiving commentary on mob lynching), "Shane" is definitely a western film that has carried its theme precisely to where it intends to, and sets the tone for further "moral explorations" in the western world, paving way for the films of the genre more concerned with "what the man with the gun thinks and feels" than "what the gun would do to a man who does not". The common cliche "...and the hero rides into the sunset" is always ever present in a horse opera, with some musical score proclaiming his victory. But "Shane" gave the "sunset" a whole new meaning, and the celebratory score interchanged by a child's lone call. For a hero. For an idol. For a friend.
Super Reviewer
½ June 18, 2007
Thought it was stupid. I wanted that boy to die a slow, painful death because he was annoying as hell. I didn't care about any of the characters, the plot was dumb etc.
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