“Shane” (1953)

Genre: Western
Director: George Stevens
Starring Cast: Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin, Emile Meyer

Shane (Ladd), a lone rider, stops at the farm of small rancher, Joe Starrett (Heflin), his wife, Marian (Arthur), and young son, Joey. Ryker (Meyer), a powerful and ruthless cowboy, turns up with his gang to make the farmer a forceful offer for land that he fully intends to secure by any means required.

When Shane lets the cattle baron know that his gun will back Starrett if there is any trouble, the thankful rancher offers the outsider a job on the farm. Shane attempts to stay out of any conflict between the opposing groups until Ryker hires a gunslinger named Wilson to intimidate Starrett. Joey, who idolises Shane, sees him ride into town to confront Wilson, and the story takes a new path from there.

The story is told form the viewpoint of the young Joey with captivating tenderness and purity. Shane has the mystical atmosphere of an old legend, transforming everyday characters into Western superheroes. Alan Ladd is seen at his most iconic: serene face, striking eyes and a compassion beyond the tough facade.

We learn little of Shane’s story; he appears from nowhere and returns to nowhere. He is first seen over the horizon amid the antlers of a stag and, in the heart-rending climax, Joey’s calls echo in the hills, “Shane, come back.”

Simply one of the most wonderfully poised of Westerns, it was shot in the stunning scenery of Wyoming. Alan Ladd is cast forever as the charming “Shane.” It is a moving story and is a classic in the eyes of many.

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