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 Thirties. 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."
  • 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.
  • The Drifter: Shane is a perfect example of this.
  • Empathic Environment: During the confrontation between Starrett and Shane- one of the best examples of this trope actually.
  • Famous Last Words:
    • You're a low down, lying Yankee. Frank "Stonewall" Torrey
    • Prove it. Jack Wilson
  • 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.
  • 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!").
  • 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.
  • 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.