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Shane (1953)

Starring:

Alan Ladd

Ben Johnson

Brandon De Wilde

Douglas Spencer

Edgar Buchanan

Edith Evanson

Elisha Cook Jr.

Ellen Corby

Emile Meyer

Jack PalanceJack Palance

Jean Arthur

John Dierkes

John Miller

Paul McVey

Van Heflin

Directed by:

George Stevens

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 118 minutes

UK Certificate: U

Country: United States

Shane is a modest, simple Western from the 1950s that, even though I’m not a huge fan of most homegrown Westerns, is rightly accredited as a classic. George Stevens gets it right and provides everything for a quality and entertaining movie, regardless of genre.

A weary gunfighter surprisingly known as Shane (Ladd) wanders into a conflict between a group of ranchers, including the stubborn Joe Starrett (Helfin) and his family, who are resisting Ryker (Dierkes), a cattleman who wants to take their land. Shane grows close to Joe’s wife Marian (Arthur) and child Joey (De Wilde) and starts to get further into conflict with the Ryker gang after taking them on in a couple of bar brawls.

Starting with a minor negative: Brandon De Wilde,?the child actor portraying Joey, is by far the most annoying thing I have ever been enforced to endure on screen – beating Jar Jar Binks and Adam Sandler by a whisker. The little urchin can only speak in questions and squeaks, and repeats, the most inane utterances for the duration of the film. However, this all actually makes the most genuine portrayal of a real-life child you can imagine. Whether that is a good or bad thing for people wanting a bit of escapism is up for debate but somehow he was nominated for an Oscar for this performance so good for him.

Shane is a mature Western that doesn’t focus on overly heroic characters, injuns or damsels in distress but instead on an engaging plot, a couple of blended-in subplots and quality dialogue and action. The characterisation is very measured as Shane is not over-glorified and even the Ryker gang reside in a kind of grey zone – except for the straight up evil Jack Wilson (Palance) – and offer some reasoning for being mean to the farmers. George Steven’s Western is full of memorable characters, scenes (including two excellent bar brawls) and scenic vistas.

It's Got: A slightly obtrusive film score very much of it's time, a very annoying child, awesome bar brawls

It Needs: To be admired for the beautiful scenery and simple well-execute storyline

DVD Extras The Special Edition has a commentary from George Stevens Jr. and theatrical trailers - not too much more can be expected from a movie of this era, I suppose. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10

Alternatives:

A Fistful of Dollars, The Grapes of Wrath, The Magnificent Seven

Summary

A solid likeable Western full of memorable scenes, characters and dialogue. Oh, and the most annoying child you could imagine.

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