Film / Shane
"Shane! Come back!"

Classic 1953 Western, based on the novel by Jack Schaefer.

A Determined Homesteader named Starrett, his wife, and their young son are running a small farm. Some cattle ranchers want to force them out (along with the other Nesters), either with money or with guns. They are using an army of Mooks for this. While this is going on, a wanderer in buckskin clothing named Shane meets Starrett, and after a quickly resolved misunderstanding, Shane is accepted by the family and begins working for Starrett. Shane is soon idolized by the young boy, who wants to learn how to shoot. There is extensive discussion between Shane, Starrett, and his wife about the appropriateness of guns and violence.

Ultimately Shane protects the Determined Homesteader using violence, knowing that this means he will never be able to settle down to a peaceful life, Shane is cursed by his previous choices in life to always be The Gunslinger, always drifting. His final words before leaving is to tell the young boy to run home and tell his mother that she has her wish that there be "no more guns in the valley"; Shane leaving is of course required for this to be true.

Subject to a famous debate about the ending: Is Shane dead, or did he survive?

Last film for Jean Arthur, whose Hollywood career dated back to The Twenties. Was essentially remade and combined with High Plains Drifter as the Clint Eastwood film Pale Rider, with Clint Eastwood basically playing Alan Ladd's role.

Tropes in this Film:

  • Adaptation Expansion: a 2-hour movie from a novel that barely tops 100 pages. Most scenes in the book get extended in some way for the movie, and several brand new scenes were created.
  • The Alcoholic: "Stonewall" Torrey is implied to be on occasion, since he orders a jug every time he goes into Grafton's.
  • Ax-Crazy: Wilson, who seems to be looking for an excuse to kill people. "Prove it."
  • Badass Adorable: Joey.
  • Bang Bang BANG: Holy crap. Some loud, loud guns in this movie.
  • Bar Brawl: Shane starts one with Calloway to repay the way Calloway insulted him the first time he came into town. He beats Calloway and then challenges the rest of Ryker's gang. Starret has to wade in with a club, and they defeat all of them.
  • Berserk Button: Played with, in the case of calling Wilson "a low-down Yankee liar". He smiles in amusement at the insult...and then demands that you "prove it".
  • Big Bad: Rufus Ryker. He'll stop at nothing to drive the farmers off their land so he can use it for his cattle.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The ranch is saved, but Shane is left to Walk the Earth—that is, if he isn't bleeding to death.
  • Blood Knight: Jack Wilson
  • But Now I Must Go: Maybe... depending on whether you agree with Shane or not.
  • Chairman of the Brawl
  • Constantly Curious: Joey is forever asking questions of Shane.
  • Creator Cameo: During the bar fight between Shane and Calloway, the off-screen voice that says "knock him back to the pig-pen" is that of George Stevens.
  • Dark Reprise: Fred plays ‘Dixieland’ to tease Torrey, and everyone sings ‘Abide with Me’ at the party. They do the same, but in a much more sombre tempo, at Torrey’s funeral.
  • Determined Homesteader: Joe Starrett refuses to move off of his land in spite of any threats and tries to get the other farmers to band together and stand up to Ryker.
  • The Dragon: Jack Wilson is brought in by Ryker to enforce his will on the homesteaders. Wilson shoots Torrey and Shane has to get through him to beat Ryker.
  • The Drifter: Shane is a perfect example of this.
  • Due to the Dead: When the other farmers decide to flee after Torrey's murder, Starett persuades them to at least stay long enough to give the man a proper funeral.
  • Empathic Environment: During the confrontation between Starrett and Shane- one of the best examples of this trope actually.
  • Famous Last Words (also counts as Ironic Echo)
    • You're a low down, lying Yankee. Frank "Stonewall" Torrey
    • Prove it. Jack Wilson
  • Faux Affably Evil: Ryker waits for the Staretts on their farm when they come back from the Fourth of July and attempts to persuade them that he's got the better rights to the land, then says that they ought to work for him instead. However, he brings his muscle too, and goes right back to hostility when the Starett refuses.
  • The Film of the Book
  • The Gunslinger: Shane. He even does some Gun Twirling at one point.
  • Guns Akimbo: Subverted for the title character, who is a firm believer that one gun is all he needs.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Chris Calloway turns against Ryker in the end.
  • Heroic Sacrifice
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Inverted in terms of casting. Elisha Cook, Jr. normally plays this type of character, but in this film, he plays a good guy, "Stonewall" Torrey, a Southern Determined Homesteader and friend of the Starrets. In every other respect, he lives "up" to this trope to a T. He's a consistent failure, resents the fact that neither friends nor enemies take him seriously, but is determined to stand up for himself and the Lost Cause ... all of which sets him up as an all-too-easy victim to one of the most effective and unsympathetic villains in Western film history.
  • Knight Errant: Shane is a wandering gunfighter who automatically steps to the defense of Starret when Ryker tries to intimidate him, in spite of Starret's initial (but understandable) unfriendliness.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The other farmers are all set to leave in the wake of Torrey's death even with Starett's speech... until they see that Ryker's men have set fire to Lewis' farm, which stiffens their spines again.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: The ending has Shane riding away after defeating the villains, as the little boy who admires him cries "Shane! Come back!"
  • Percussive Prevention: Subverted into a horrifying fight between friends, complete with Empathic Environment.
  • The Quiet One: Jack Wilson. Shane himself also counts.
  • Re Cut: A small but vital one: Depending on what version you watch, you may actually hear Joey's voice calling out "Bye, Shane!" in the last shot of Shane riding off. Narratively, the difference has a contrast of Joey accepting that Shane has to go vs. a refusal to do so (where his last words are "Come back!").
  • Retired Gunfighter: It's implied that Shane used to be a dangerous gunfighter. However, he seems content to work as a farmhand for Starett until Ryker forces him to fight again.
  • Rousing Speech: Starett tries to give one (though subdued, giving the setting) to the other families at Torrey's funeral, entreating them to stay and stand up to Ryker. Shane backs him up, but it's not until they see Ryker burning Lewis' farm that they listen.
  • Sacrificial Lion: "Stonewall" Torrey.
  • Scenery Porn: Shot in glorious Technicolor in Wyoming's Jackson Hole valley.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Shane is pretty jumpy in the beginning, upon hearing Joey cocking a rifle, and later when a cow clangs into something.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Wilson has 8 minutes of screen time and less than 50 words of dialogue. Made the most of it, didn't he? On a more meta level, Wilson is considered one of the definitive Western bad guys and one of the most remembered roles from the career of Jack Palance, who acted for more than 50 years in over 70 movies.
  • The Sociopath: Ryker and Wilson.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: Wilson never raises his voice once. His challenge to "prove it" is hardly above a whisper, and he has a rather unsettling smile on his face the whole time.
  • Talent Double: Shane's fancy gun twirling in the climactic showdown was actually performed by Rodd Redwing. Earlier, when Shane demonstrates his prowess for Joey, and it is clearly Alan Ladd himself on camera, the actor had been given a different, easier-to-use revolver for the scene (it took him over a hundred takes to get it right).
  • Tempting Fate: "Stonewall" Torrey, when he tries to stand up to Wilson and gets a bullet planted in his chest as a result.
  • Twilight of the Old West: Implied by this exchange:
    Shane: Yeah, you've lived too long. Your kind of days are over.
    Ryker: My days? What about yours, gunfighter?
    Shane: The difference is, I know it.
  • Worthy Opponent: Shane gains Chris Calloway's respect after beating him in a brawl. This is implied to be one of the factors behind Calloway's Heel–Face Turn, as he makes it a point to go to Shane in secret to let him know.