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Movie Info

Enigmatic gunslinger Shane (Alan Ladd) rides into a small Wyoming town with hopes of quietly settling down as a farmhand. Taking a job on homesteader Joe Starrett's (Van Heflin) farm, Shane is drawn into a battle between the townsfolk and ruthless cattle baron Rufus Ryker (Emile Meyer). Shane's growing attraction to Starrett's wife, Marian (Jean Arthur), and his fondness for their son Joey (Brandon de Wilde), who idolizes Shane, force Shane to realize that he must thwart Ryker's plan.

Cast & Crew

Jean Arthur
Marian Starrett
Van Heflin
Joe Starrett
Brandon de Wilde
Joey Starrett
Jack Palance
Jack Wilson
Ben Johnson
Chris Calloway
Emile Meyer
Rufus Ryker
Elisha Cook Jr.
Frank "Stonewall" Torrey
Douglas Spencer
Axel "Swede" Shipstead
A. B. Guthrie Jr.
Writer
Victor Young
Original Music
Loyal Griggs
Cinematographer
William Hornbeck
Film Editor
Tom McAdoo
Film Editor
Hal Pereira
Art Direction
Walter H. Tyler
Art Direction
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News & Interviews for Shane

Critic Reviews for Shane

All Critics (36) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (35) | Rotten (1)

  • The simple story, the legendary hero: this is the Western tradition. But in developing his narrative George Stevens employs an unusually sophisticated technique.

    July 6, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Wyoming's scenic splendors against which the story is filmed are breathtaking. Sunlight, the shadow of rain storms and the eerie lights of night play a realistic part in making the picture a visual treat.

    July 2, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Here, as too often in his career, Stevens is aiming to have the last word on a genre: everything aims for 'classic' status, and everything falters in a mire of artsiness and obtrusive technique.

    July 2, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Stevens' classic Western, with its inflated reputation, now looks as if it were self-consciously intended as a landmark film right from the start.

    February 9, 2006 | Full Review…
  • If the Western is the quintessential American mythology, Shane is its great knight-samurai archetype: stern in battle, mild with women and children, siding with the wronged.

    May 31, 2004 | Rating: A+ | Full Review…
  • For Shane contains something more than beauty and the grandeur of the mountains and plains, drenched by the brilliant Western sunshine and the violent, torrential, black-browed rains...

    May 20, 2003 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Shane

  • Jun 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
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Mar 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
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 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.
    Brian R Super Reviewer
  • Jun 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.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer

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