|Ladd in perhaps his most famous role.|
|Shane dances with Marion.|
|Joe and Shane cement their friendship.|
Shane’s gunfighting past is never in question. When Joey cocks his little rifle, the ever-ready gunslinger spins around to draw his pistol. In a later scene, the two have this brief, but memorable, exchange:
JOEY: Bet you can shoot.
SHANE: A little bit.
|Brandon de Wilde as Joey.|
Ironically, Shane shares more in common with Riker than with the Starrett family. Indeed, they may have been friends, or partners perhaps, in the earlier days of the West. However, Shane recognizes that the tough men who tamed the West are no longer in demand. Instead, the frontier now needs men like Starrett that will raise families, build communities, and shape commerce. It's not an uncommon Western theme (and one explored more symbolically in Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West). However, director Stevens conveys it subtly and never strays from the film's strength: its characters and the actors who play them.
|Jack Palance as the ruthless Wilson.|
Personally, I rank it as one of the great Westerns. It may be too stately at times and, surprisingly, the production values are variable (ranging from scenic snow-covered mountains in the background to hokey stagy sets--though Loyal Griggs won an Oscar for cinematography). But it’s a well-done, entertaining film that has inspired its share of imitators. Some of those semi-remakes are enjoyable in their own right, especially Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider and Soldier with Kurt Russell.