View Full Version : Shane

percy toboggan
03-Apr-09, 19:58
I don't expect too many to read this - an old film I bought t'other week. I'm at a loose end while Mrs.T faffs about - we're watching the Wire in a few minutes but I watched Shane last night in bed - and stayed awake. At six am this morning I listened to most of the commentary track given by the Director George Stevens' son (he's long dead himself) and the Associate Producer - in his nineties I think.

What a western! Shot in Jacksons Hole, Wyoming. Of course Alan Ladd (second choice after Montgomery Clift turned his back on the role) is not everyones cup of tea. Too clean a cowboy for many, and those bucksking fringes did look a bit daft.

He was only five foot seven too but skilful direction made up for it. Especially in the fight scenes.

This is the classic eternal triangle story though. Van Hefflin and Jean Arthur cast as the couple eeking out an existence on the prairie with a magnificent mountain backdrop. When the stranger arrives and throws the relationship just slightly off kilter in an unspoken way. Apparently the casters wanted Katherine Hepburn to play Starret's wife but she wouldn't. This was Jean Arthur's last film. Incredibly she was in her fifties at the time of shooting but looks twenty years younger.

Seems the actor who played the young boy - through whom we are drawn into the plot was killed in a car crash in Colorado in his twenties.

The costumes were accurate, sweaty and dirty. The mud clinging and the thrown up township where Ryker and his men had permanent residnece in the saloon looked real, the essence of a fledgeling pioneering community.

There may be better westerns but I could count them on one hand.
I was amazed this was shot in colour. I'd seen it often in the past - years ago but always in black and white...somehow I think it suits monochrome more.

I'm off to watch 'The Damned United' at the cinema tomorrow with my mate Stan....so I'll doubtless chuck in my two penneth at some point.

03-Apr-09, 20:06
a brilliant film. we did the book at school, so got to see the film then too.

03-Apr-09, 20:08
This is a movie that I have watched umpteen times and I would watch it again tomorrow

percy toboggan
04-Apr-09, 09:37
Some more stuff from the commentary which was highly enjoyable....

Remember the burial of 'Stonewall' the feisty southern 'sodbuster' who had a brash bravado about him? Jack Palance gunned him down and he fell backwards into the clinging Wyoming mud. As the coffin was lowered into the ground his dog, attentive and pining reached down a leg and placed his paw on top of the crudely constructed wooden box. Well, the dog was an ornery critter and badly behaved and to get it to show any interest in the scene at all they had to get the dog's trainer 'Weatherwax' to climb into the grave first ! So long was he in there he was almost forgotten !
Also, Alan Ladd DID stand on a fruit box to appear taller in the panning scene at the funeral...he was a good six or seven inches shorter than his co-actors at five seven.

Director Stevens and his Associate Producer had seen much action in WW2. As such they did not want to glorify violence. At the time kids were buying cap guns and cowboy outfits. This film is as old as me and I had one as a boy too. He wanted to demystify the sixshooter somehow but I'm not sure he succeeded. The age of the 'gunslinger' was drawing to a close of course - the film was set in 1890.

Interesting to note that the people behind the movie - although they had hopes - had no idea that half a century later it would be commonplace to watch old films. After the initial release period back then it was almost impossible to view movies time and again. Even television was in its infancy as a mass medium.

All in all this was a bargain buy from Amazon at about four quid. I'd urge anyone to get the disc as the commentary track is very illuminating. It's a fully restored negative too so the colour is vivid.
I well remember watching this in black & white on a tiny telly as a kid of about the same age as 'Joey' in the movie. Wide eyed as ageing relatives looked on too - we were all enthralled which says a lot for 'Shane' one of the greatest westerns of all time.