Wednesday, August 26, 2015

AFI Top 100, #69: "Shane" (1953)

Movie Stats:
Released 1953 (USA)
American, in English
Director - George Stevens
Stars - Alan Ladd, Van Heflin, Jean Arthur, Brandon De Wilde, Emile Meyer

Plot Summary:
When aimless drifter, and secret gunslinger, Shane (Ladd) decides to stay a spell with the ranching Starrett family - Joe (Heflin), Marian (Arthur), and Joey (De Wilde) - he gets embroiled in their land dispute with cattleman Rufus Ryker (Meyer).

Violence, some of it bloody.

Bad Stuff:
I’ll let you know when I wake up from the coma it put me in.

The acting from Arthur and De Wilde was fairly subpar. I’m not particularly shy about expressing my dislike of child actors, and De Wilde’s performance was especially egregious. Sitting through two hours of his gawping face and the way he whined, “Shane!” was agonizing.

The music and sound effects are really overbearing. They don’t accentuate scenes, they try to force you to feel certain things about them. The cracks of thunder every time something bad was about to happen was eye roll inducing.

Good Stuff:
I enjoyed Heflin’s performance, and I guess Ladd was okay.

I liked that the barroom brawl was fairly realistic, i.e. that Shane couldn’t singlehandedly beat up five guys and that they didn’t all stand around waiting for their “turn” to punch him & actually rushed him all at once.

The Verdict:
I’m very sad that there are so many westerns on this list because I’ve given up hope that I’ll like any of them. It’s not like I don’t try. I go in with an open mind. Typically, though, I’m bored within half an hour, and this film was no exception. It’s slow and dull and virtually nothing happens (one barroom brawl and one shootout notwithstanding). Also, the central conflict of the main characters is kind of stupid. I feel like, in real life, Starrett would have shot Ryker or vice versa long before the beginning of the movie, because it was the wild west and that's how people settled disputes. I recommend you find something more interesting to watch. 

I give it 2 stars.


Patricia said...

I think it would be fun to sort movie reviews by decade. I can guess that with this one the progress through the decades would go from "perfectly splendid" to "Bor-rig!"

balyien said...

I definitely feel like the 50s were a particularly abysmal decade for movies. There are a few exceptions, but I tend to find the 50s slow, boring, schlocky and sentimental, although that makes sense in terms of zeitgeist.