A retired gunfighter is forced to intervene in a cattle ranch
dispute after the homestead family that took him in is threatened.
Directed by George Stevens
Written by A.B. Guthrie Jr.
Starring Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin, Brandon De Wilde, Jack Palance, Emile Meyer, Ben Johnson, Elisha Cook Jr.
Based on the novel by Jack Schaefer
Oscar Wins - Best Cinematography
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor
(Jack Palance), Best Supporting Actor (Brandon De Wilde),
Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay
Shane is fairly typical of the American western of the 1950's. Bright, colorful, gorgeous landscapes and one-dimensional western stereotypes in a film that is way longer than it needs to be. But these kinds of films were easy to mass-produce, and very few stood out. Rio Bravo, High Noon, and apparently Shane for reasons I can't quite comprehend. It's not terrible, but it's hardly a masterpiece. The conflict is vague and the character of Shane is more of a side character in his own movie. But we'll get into that.
The Starrett Family are homesteaders in Wyoming who are being harassed by local cattle rancher Ryker (Meyer), whose motivations and goals aren't entirely clear. One day, a one-named stranger breezes onto the Starrett homestead. His name is Shane (Ladd), and he wants to rest. He stays on the homestead and befriends the family, including their annoying kid who is constantly asking Shane questions. Somehow, this kid earned an Oscar nomination. It's hinted that Shane has a dark past, but it's never explored. It takes the entire runtime of the film for Shane to actually take the bad guys on, including an underused and underwhelming Jack Palance.
Shane is another boring western that is celebrated these days mostly because of its critical praise. But really, it's nothing all that special. I'll give it props for its gorgeous cinematography and its brief moments of intrigue, such as the bar fight that gets wildly out of hand. Overall, I have seen far better efforts, but I'd still watch this again over most of John Wayne's films.