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Shane Reviews

Self-important, overly solemn, middlingly paced--all harbingers of what would become Stevens's later style. It's the western styled as Arthurian legend, flawlessly cast, undeniably splendid. The thematic attempt really takes off when the Black Knight himself, Jack Palance, arrives, or when a dog mourns the passing of his master. And Brandon de Wilde had a very special line in children's roles--an ability to bring complexity and individual humor to the realm of childhood's longing. We love him very much. SHANE stars Alan Ladd in the title role of the gunslinger who becomes a young boy's idol. Joe and Marion Starrett (Van Heflin and Jean Arthur) and their adventurous young son Joey (Brandon de Wilde) are struggling to survive on their Wyoming frontier homestead. One day, Shane (Alan Ladd) approaches on horseback and asks for water for himself and his mount. Joe obliges, and before long Shane is helping the family protect its land from villainous cattle baron Ryker (Emile Meyer). Shane stays on as a ranch hand and, in the process, becomes a friend and hero to young Joey. Shane's presence, however, proves to be too much of an obstacle for Ryker, and the inevitable showdown occurs. SHANE is a powerful drama in which the old West of gunslingers and cattle barons bows to the new era of the homesteader and the family. Ladd, who was never better as the doomed hero, and who gives one of the best performances ever seen in any western, knows he is a creature of the past and that he cannot escape his reputation as a hired gun. Although the film is often brutal, there is such a positive sense of morality displayed here that SHANE should be seen by the whole family. How many Academy members knew Paramount had sliced the top and bottom off Griggs's compositions, to accomodate the then-new, wide screen, and therefore had lost some of the color? Ladd learned a bitter lesson from SHANE. Then in the process of leaving Paramount for Warners, the former did no lobbying to earn him a Best Actor nomination. Yet the legacy of character he left behind gave this lonely, taciturn man immortality among children who see this movie.