SHANE (1953)

Dir. George Stevens

After years of serious dramas like A Place in the Sun (1951), George Stevens returned to the genre that had helped launch his career to create one of the most iconic Westerns ever made. With Alan Ladd in the title role, he paints a picture of the American West at a crossroads between the wild, unsettled frontiers of the past and the arrival of civilization. Ladd stars as a former gunslinger drawn back into battle to protect the farmers of a remote community from an unscrupulous rancher and his hired guns. Critics have found echoes of Japanese samurais and medieval knights in his portrayal of a man of honor branded by his violent past, but the performance is also uniquely modern. Ladd suggests untapped reserves and unstated conflicts beneath his placid exterior. For once the film does nothing to make the diminutive actor look taller, using his height for dramatic effect. With Oscar winning cinematography by Loyal Griggs and great performances by Jean Arthur, Brandon de Wilde, Jack Palance and Van Heflin, the film set the bar for Westerns to follow.

In attendance: Bill Hader.

SHANE
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