Movie Information

In Brief: George Stevens' post-WWII films tend to be an acquired taste which I've never really managed to acquire. They're too heavy-handed, too self-conscious, too self-important and, invariably, too long. The first time I saw Shane (1953) was at a kiddie matinee in 1963 or thereabouts. (Our local theater ran a lot of old Paramount and Universal products for this purpose. Frankly, I doubt they actually booked them, but rather happened to already have the prints.) At the time, it bored me stiff. Seen today, it no longer bores me. In fact, it may just be the best of Stevens' later films — not in the least because it reproduces the basic dynamic of his The Talk of the Town (1942) in Western terms. (That Jean Arthur serves the same function in both films increases that sense, as does the presence of Edgar Buchanan.) Otherwise, it's a pretty straightforward settlers-vs.-land-barons Western, but done in an unusually gritty, unromanticized manner, with perhaps the most realistic lighting seen at the time. The biggest downside today is probably Brandon De Wilde, who may well be the most annoying child star of all time. That Stevens seems to dote on the kid and constantly insert reaction shots of him does not help matters.
Genre: Western
Director: George Stevens
Starring: Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin, Brandon De Wilde, Jack Palance, Ben Johnson, Edgar Buchanan
Rated: NR

The Hendersonville Film Society will show Shane Sunday, Jan. 17, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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