Shane: The Mysterious Stranger in a Fringe-y Suede Jacket

My next review is on a film called Shane, which is a 1953 western starring Alan Ladd and Jean Arthur.  It's the story of a mysterious stranger who comes in and helps some folk stand up to the nasty cattle ranchers who are trying to take over their land.  It is placed at #266, something which makes me momentarily question the validity of this list.

There's something I should get out of the way before I review this movie: I really don't like westerns.  I've seen a fair few, and there's only three that I actually enjoy -- The Searchers, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and the recent remake of True Grit.  So as I much as I pride myself on being a fair and honest movie buff, the odds are not in this movie's favor of ever being watched again by me.

A mysterious stranger named Shane rides up to a quiet little homestead owned by the Starretts.  He quickly endears himself to them -- the dad appreciates his hard work, the mom fancies him, and the kid worships the ground he walks on.  Shane agrees to stay on and help with the work, but it seems pretty obvious that he's going to end up doing more than that.  Because, you see, Shane is A Man With A Past, and the community he's just become a part of is having problems with the cattle ranchers.

The homesteaders subscribe to the notion that when you set up shop on some land and build a fence, that land belongs to you.  The cattle ranchers think this is a bunch of modern hokum, and they proceed to do pretty much whatever they want.  Including killing the homesteader's animals, ruining their crops, burning down their houses, and shooting a guy named Stonewall.  This is A Problem.  Joe Starrett convinces them all to band together and fight back.  Shane doesn't want him to get hurt, so he knocks him unconscious and deals with the problem himself.  He's a gunslinger, you see, and he's going to have it out with the Rykers in traditional western fashion.  He kills them all, no problem.  But he's all Mr Sad Face because he wanted to get away from the whole Killing People thing.  After a ridiculously cheesy scene with the Starrett brat, he rides off into the sunset, wounded.  Does he live?  Does he die?

Me and Stanley can't even bring ourselves to care.

Random Musings:

  • Can I just ask something that's been bothering me for a long time?  What's the point in wearing those ridiculously silly-looking suede jackets with fringe on them?  Is there a benefit to them or is it just some sort of really tragic fashion statement?

  • So the father has been domesticated by marriage and farming and his homestead.  I bet the wife's going to be all conflicted and interested in the mysterious, wild stranger who hasn't been domesticated.  It's called the John Wayne Syndrome, and it happens surprisingly often.  Look woman, I don't care that Shane is stronger and sexier and has more fringed jackets than your husband, you need to keep your hormones under control.

  • Got to hand it to Shane, it takes a man real secure in his masculinity to walk into a bar in the Old West and order a soda.

  • Oh my dear lord I do believe I've just experienced the worst Scandinavian accents I've ever heard.

  • I love how movies never address the fact that roundhouse punches, like the ones Shane is throwing left, right, and center...those sons of bitches make your hands hurt.

  • Ugh, these people are such little bitches.  The Rykers are walking all over them, killing their animals and herding cattle through their plowed fields.  Instead of pissing and moaning like impotent jerks about how much they hate the Rykers, someone should just go over and shoot them while they're asleep.  It's the Old West, it's not like they would get in trouble.  They say themselves that the law is hours and hours away.  I'm not seeing the issue.

  • I really wish little Joey would shut his mouth once in a while!

  • Oh boy, let's have a long, involved discussion about who has the right to the land, the homesteaders or the ranchers.  Can I just say the Indians and nip this whole pointless conversation in the bud?

  • Officially 73 minutes into the film and I am just so bored and disinterested in everything that's going on I can't even be bothered to cultivate an intelligent viewpoint did I mention I don't like westerns??

  • Jean Arthur is annoying me.  She's all, "You can't kill the Rykers, it's wrong!" Yeah, well so is killing homesteaders and burning down houses, but the Rykers don't seem to mind.

There comes a time in every film buff's life when, for whatever reason, you must part company with your brethren and say, "Seriously?  You guys liked that?"  When you have to shoulder accusations of "just not getting it" and be told that "maybe you should go watch Transformers".  When everyone tells you a movie is great, and you just can't wrap your mind around anyone choosing to watch it more than once.  And all you can do is try to convince the naysayers that you are not a bad just actively disliked the classic, critically acclaimed movie.  This, my friends, is how I feel about Shane.  It's usually considered one of the best westerns, but...I just. don't. get. it.

Yeah, Shane is a badass, but he's also just very generic and uninteresting and bland.  The kid is beyond annoying, the villains aren't memorable, and I straight up did not care about anything happening in this movie.

The only character I have any time for is Joe, the father, and even he's cheesy and underdeveloped.  Bottom line: out of all the movies I've watched for this list, this is the closest I've come to turning the movie off and just pretending I've finished it.  (Which by the way, I did not do, I sat through all 117 minutes of it!)  And by an odd coincidence, 117 minutes is exactly how much time of my life I wish I had back.

However...I like to make a point of not completely disregarding any film, and I don't like to do a review without saying at least one thing I liked about it.  No movie is without any redeeming qualities.

... ... ... Touche.  Let me rephrase that.  Shane is not without any redeeming qualities.  So here goes.  I liked the fight sequence with Shane and the bad guys in the bar, when they're just beating the crap out of each other.  And I was happy that Joe stepped in to back him up.  That was a nice moment.

Whew.  OK.  Thanks for reading, and come back next time for Spirited Away!

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS


Luke said...

I am a huge western nut. So... booooo!!!!!!

Audrey on a Mission said...

Haha sorry! I knew I was going to take some flack for this one. I do like some westerns though!!

Hal said...

I just recently watched this film. After the viewing I immediately got on the interwebs and did a search for "why is Shane critically acclaimed". I totally agree with you. I think the film critic mafia fixed this fight. Acting is terrible, characters are mis-cast, story is about as third grade as it gets. Even Jack Palance is forgettable. There is no visceral energy that great films posses. I know film well, I've been studying film since I saw 2001 when I was 12, I went to film school, and I own my own production company. Of course all that doesn't mean a hill of beans(western talk) in the grand scheme, but at least I'm educated enough to know good from bad barring any subjectiveness. Thanks for posting this. Sometimes you just need to validate your own opinions by seeking out other similar ones.

Post a Comment

Blog Directory