I just seen the film again, and must reread the book. I am surprised at some reviews, as I consider the sexual/romantic tension between Marion and Shane underplayed, I feel because of its time, I feel that Shane’s past and his desire to leave it behind is also underplayed. Not that I need to see them shagging, and possibly, those commentators that say her attraction was to him was resisted from Shane’s sense of honour and love for Joe are right. But it all comes right in the end, the honourable stranger, kills the three baddies, moves on, and the nuclear family, we assume lives happily every after, the town becomes a peaceful honourable community, symbolised by Chris’s epiphany which is more clearly stated in the book.

Not only is there a cold war message underpinning the movie as was the case in most early westerns, but also a need to get the women out of the factories and back into the homes and a desire to sanctify the individualism of justice in the USA while ignoring the oppression of native Americans who were the original custodians of the land. Possibly it’s the victory and need for skill in violence that the cleanliness and politeness undermines.

An article from Marc Barham, places the film firmly in the category of a political diatribe, although the author ends the review with a highly critical view of the flawed coming of the American dream. Barham places the homesteaders vs. rancher’s in the cpontext of the theft of land from native Americans. Jus(tice was on neither side. I think I must have read the book first, as I agree with Roger Ebert, Alan Ladd is too clean, if not pretty and the buckskins are wrong (and too clean). I also think Ladd lacks the aura of dangerousness. Ebert would seem to agree, and says

There are intriguing mysteries in “Shane,” puzzles and challenges, not least in the title character and the way he is played by Alan Ladd.

They argue that telling the story from Joey’s eyes is an important part of the story; I think Brandon de Wilde’s acting lets the film down. And while this review  gets the story, I am not sure its the one the film tells.

Perhaps it’s not possible to watch this post war film with 21st century eyes, but I have always felt there’s something off about this film.

This is a better gun fight, from tombstone

I wrote a longer blog article.

Dave Culture

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