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My love is SHANE-less


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I had seen clips of this film over the years, and I finally sat down and watched it all the way through this afternoon-- thanks to TCM and the power of the DVR. Sorry to say that while some parts worked for me, as a whole much of it did not. And I am afraid that if I list the many reasons why, the SHANE lovefest attendees will take me to task!

 

When I read user reviews on the IMDB, I found many others who had issues with certain aspects of the film. Don't know if it is oddly comforting or not to find I wasn't alone in not exactly loving SHANE. I think for me the bigger mystery is why it is overrated and so revered.

 

Thoughts...?

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I had seen clips of this film over the years, and I finally sat down and watched it all the way through this afternoon-- thanks to TCM and the power of the DVR. Sorry to say that while some parts worked for me, as a whole much of it did not. And I am afraid that if I list the many reasons why, the SHANE lovefest attendees will take me to task!

 

When I read user reviews on the IMDB, I found many others who had issues with certain aspects of the film. Don't know if it is oddly comforting or not to find I wasn't alone in not exactly loving SHANE. I think for me the bigger mystery is why it is overrated and so revered.

 

Thoughts...?

 

I think Shane has great visuals and the actors do a fine job.   The overall story had been told many times before and the first time I saw the film two decades ago it was easy to guess what was going to happen next and how it would end.

 

I still find the movie entertaining to watch but it isn't on my "I can't turn away' list of movies I have seen before.   

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I think Shane has great visuals and the actors do a fine job.   The overall story had been told many times before and the first time I saw the film two decades ago it was easy to guess what was going to happen next and how it would end.

 

I still find the movie entertaining to watch but it isn't on my "I can't turn away' list of movies I have seen before.   

That seems fair, james.  

 

There are at least a half dozen things that do not work for me in SHANE. Number one, the relationship between the boy and Shane-- Joey seems to either have a crush on Shane (especially in the beginning) or to be mentally incapacitated to the point that all he can do is gawk and gush at anything Shane says or does, which comes off a bit odd and makes Claude Jarman's character in THE YEARLING seem much more normal.

 

Number two, the casting of Jean Arthur who was 56 (though she shaved three years off her actual age and was supposed to be only 53 at the time this picture was made)-- she should be playing Joey's grandmother. The close-ups have that Lucille Ball in MAME sort of blurriness to them.

 

Number three, the music good as it is truly upstages most of the acting and so does the scenery. And so does the dog. But the music is definitely too much in some spots, and it should have been used more sparingly. The way it plays now, some of the music is so sweeping and melodramatic I half expected to hear Jean Arthur's character say the chickens weren't laying any eggs and that the music would swell up and we could collectively sigh (and cry).

 

Number four, the fact that Palance was underused (maybe a little bit of his meanness goes a long way but I think he is used much better playing the same type of role in OKLAHOMA CRUDE twenty years later).

 

Number five, the painfully slow narrative that is camouflaged by quick edits where characters do not even move, which only draws attention to the fact that the editor is trying to save the story from becoming too dull or tedious.

 

And number six, the fact that all the poor folk are good upstanding citizens when I have yet to find any community where all the people are perfectly virtuous and one individual of power is the only corrupted member of society. It doesn't seem very realistic.

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That seems fair, james.  

 

There are at least a half dozen things that do not work for me in SHANE. Number one, the relationship between the boy and Shane-- Joey seems to either have a crush on Shane (especially in the beginning) or to be mentally incapacitated to the point that all he can do is gawk and gush at anything Shane says or does, which comes off a bit odd and makes Claude Jarman's character in THE YEARLING seem much more normal.

 

Number two, the casting of Jean Arthur who was 56 (though she shaved three years off her actual age and was supposed to be only 53 at the time this picture was made)-- she should be playing Joey's grandmother. The close-ups have that Lucille Ball in MAME sort of blurriness to them.

 

Number three, the music good as it is truly upstages most of the acting and so does the scenery. And so does the dog. But the music is definitely too much in some spots, and it should have been used more sparingly. The way it plays now, some of the music is so sweeping and melodramatic I half expected to hear Jean Arthur's character say the chickens weren't laying any eggs and that the music would swell up and we could collectively sigh (and cry).

 

Number four, the fact that Palance was underused (maybe a little bit of his meanness goes a long way but I think he is used much better playing the same type of role in OKLAHOMA CRUDE twenty years later).

 

Number five, the painfully slow narrative that is camouflaged by quick edits where characters do not even move, which only draws attention to the fact that the editor is trying to save the story from becoming too dull or tedious.

 

And number six, the fact that all the poor folk are good upstanding citizens when I have yet to find any community where all the people are perfectly virtuous and one individual of power is the only corrupted member of society. It doesn't seem very realistic.

 

You make some good point.    As for Arthur's age,  according to Wiki and other sources I checked she was born in 1900.   The movie was released in 1953 but the filming was completed in 1951.    

 

So are you saying that Arthur was really born in 1897?  

 

I do agree that she was way too old for the part (I posted this in the other Shane thread).     While I think Jean looked good for being in her 50s,  even if one says she only looks like she was in her 40s that is too old to have a son that young.

 

I will say that Jean always was technically too old for many of her roles;   E.g. The Devil and MISS Jones.    If she was born in 1900 she was 40 when she made that film (released in 41).   Few actresses played romantic leads in movies at the age of 40 (unless age was a factor in the plot like the Kate Hepburn movie Summertime).     But Jean had such energy that her age rarely showed or made it look like she was miscast.

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I have a reference book from 1987 that has Jean Arthur being born Oct. 17, 1905.  However I, too,  believe she was born in October of 1900 instead of '05.  That would have made her 50 when filming of SHANE was completed in the fall of '51.

 

    

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You make some good point.    As for Arthur's age,  according to Wiki and other sources I checked she was born in 1900.   The movie was released in 1953 but the filming was completed in 1951.    

 

So are you saying that Arthur was really born in 1897?  

 

I do agree that she was way too old for the part (I posted this in the other Shane thread).     While I think Jean looked good for being in her 50s,  even if one says she only looks like she was in her 40s that is too old to have a son that young.

 

I will say that Jean always was technically too old for many of her roles;   E.g. The Devil and MISS Jones.    If she was born in 1900 she was 40 when she made that film (released in 41).   Few actresses played romantic leads in movies at the age of 40 (unless age was a factor in the plot like the Kate Hepburn movie Summertime).     But Jean had such energy that her age rarely showed or made it look like she was miscast.

I agree about Jean Arthur. She was able to pull it off in the 1940s, but by the 1950s, and in Technicolor in the sunlight, she definitely is starting to look her age. I dread her close-ups in SHANE because for a film where most of the cinematography and lighting seems quite natural, the minute they cut to her with the soft-focus lens, it destroys that natural feel of the movie and reminds us we are watching a movie with an aging star. They should have just filmed her without the soft-focus-- most women on the frontier were not glamorous-- and if she came across a bit tougher looking, at least it would have fit within the context of the story.

 

It's interesting you mention Kate Hepburn, because I think she would have done well in this part and she would have had good chemistry with Heflin and Ladd. In THE RAINMAKER later in the decade she is showing her age a bit more, but back in '51, she could have played Marian rather well I think.

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 I think for me the bigger mystery is why it is overrated and so revered.

Ah, so if you don't like a film that is otherwise highly regarded, it is overrated.  I have to say, that is one of the most irritating words for me to read in a post about a movie.  Is there an absolute scale for rating a movie?  Can you measure how much more a movie is regarded than it deserves?  Are you saying that all the people who do have a high regard for Shane are wrong?  Now, I am the last person to let popular opinion guide my tastes, and everyone knows you can't underestimate the intelligence of the American public (and any other, for that matter).  But if something, a movie in this instance, has wide appeal, then it stands to reason there's something there to justify it.  There are lots of movies that are insanely popular that I would cross a busy street to avoid seeing, but I try to recognize why lots of people like it, even if I don't like the same things they do.  If you don't like the movie, fine, but don't imply a lack in others who do.  

 

I am always disheartened when people don't appreciate a movie I consider good, or even great, as Shane is, because I feel they are missing out on something worthwhile.  I hope some of my comments will draw your attention to what makes this one of the best ever American movies.

 

 

the relationship between the boy and Shane-- Joey seems to either have a crush on Shane (especially in the beginning) or to be mentally incapacitated to the point that all he can do is gawk and gush at anything Shane says or does, which comes off a bit odd

 

 

 

I did not observe so much gushing or gawking, except in the places one would normally expect of a young person (boy or girl) confronted with novel and extraordinary events--the fight in the saloon, and Shane's gunplay exhibition.  Yes, Joey has a hard crush on him, which it totally natural and expected, seeing that he is completely different from any other male he has ever encountered, from his clothes to his demeanor.  From the very moment he sees him between the deer's antlers, Shane upends and disturbs his entire world.  Soon after, Shane comes over to him and complements him on how his close observation would lead him to make his mark one day.  How many adults in his world ever took to time to single him out this way, even his parents?  Every successive event serves to grow Shane in his eyes, his siding with Starrett against the ranchers, his help removing the giant stump, the fight, and on.  But there is also the sense of danger Shane presents: his pearl handle gun preoccupies him, his explosive reaction to threats frightens him.  What child could resist such a seductive combination of wonder and danger?

 

and makes Claude Jarman's character in THE YEARLING seem much more normal.

 

This is tangential, but I wasn't aware Jody's character was abnormal.

 

 

Number two, the casting of Jean Arthur who was 56 (though she shaved three years off her actual age and was supposed to be only 53 at the time this picture was made)-- she should be playing Joey's grandmother. The close-ups have that Lucille Ball in MAME sort of blurriness to them.

 

Why people keep harping on this point is beyond me.  It's as if some great principle of the universe has been violated.  Is this the only instance where an actor was cast in a part too young for them?  To be honest, until people mentioned this, any inappropriateness never occurred to me.  The only outrage I felt was at her hairdresser.  Perhaps I am unobservant.  I consider Miss Arthur's performance excellent.  She captures the attraction Shane presents for her, and the conflicts it creates in her, and her involuntary responses to him.  The contrast with Starrett, who she deeply loves, engenders in her wistful imaginings about a possible parallel life with Shane (something, no doubt Shane contemplates, as well.  If only. . . .).

 

 

Number three, the music good as it is truly upstages most of the acting. . . . . the music is definitely too much in some spots, and it should have been used more sparingly. The way it plays now, some of the music is so sweeping and melodramatic I half expected to hear Jean Arthur's character say the chickens weren't laying any eggs and that the music would swell up and we could collectively sigh (and cry).

 

As far as I can tell, the music intensifies in the scenes it should, triumphant in the stump and fight scenes, menacing at Wilson's appearance, and Shane's ride to town to take care of Ryker and Wilson--remember, he's a gunslinger, too.  An effective integration of the score with the action is the use of one of the settlers' harmonica playing, chaffing and playful in one scene, mournful at the funeral.

 

 

so does the scenery. 

 

The scenery does upstage--some of the acting.  It is meant to.  The vast impassiveness of the mountains in some scenes provides a contrast to the puny goings-on of the people in the valley.  In others, characters placed against the mountains identify them with their scale and strength.

 

 

Number four, the fact that Palance was underused (maybe a little bit of his meanness goes a long way but I think he is used much better playing the same type of role in OKLAHOMA CRUDE twenty years later).

 

It's hard to imagine what else he could have done, except kill more settlers.  For the purposes of the plot, all he had to do was kill one.  Perhaps the reason people would want to see more of him is precisely because he was in the movie just the right amount.  He comes in, does what he has to do, and gets killed.  Just right.

 

 

Number five, the painfully slow narrative that is camouflaged by quick edits where characters do not even move, which only draws attention to the fact that the editor is trying to save the story from becoming too dull or tedious.

 

As I understand it, the person in charge of the editing was Stevens himself.  And he spent a lot of time on it.  He had particular objectives in mind.  In moments or scenes of particular intensity, or when he wants to communicate a sense of uneasiness at odds with the surface of events, he employs quick edits.  You can see this choppy editing in other of his movies, but it is here developed to its greatest extent.  Other directors have picked up on this and made use of it on occasion.  One that occurs to me now is Mrs. Robinson's proposition scene in The Graduate.

 

 

And number six, the fact that all the poor folk are good upstanding citizens when I have yet to find any community where all the people are perfectly virtuous and one individual of power is the only corrupted member of society. It doesn't seem very realistic.

 

For a community to be portrayed realistically, it doesn't have to be rife with pedophiles, adultery, and drunken domestic abuse.  The settlers aren't deeply characterized, it is true, and come off a lot like archetypes.  They do, however, show a natural fear of threats from thuggery, and weakness of character enough to turn their backs on Starrett, and walk out on him.  The movie is at great pains to show the views of the settlers and the ranchers all through the movie.  Ryker is given one of the best speeches in the movie.  I'm sure you know the one I'm referring to.  I think there is a subtle implication that it doesn't matter if any side is absolutely right, the days of the ranchers is over.  The trappers are gone, the ranchers are next.  The only thing is, as Shane says, they don't know it.

 

 

What makes Shane so widely well-regarded is that it operates on many levels.  First, it is a good classic Western story.  But it is more than just a man riding in, shooting, and riding out again.  And it is more than the classic story about the conflict between ranchers and farmers.  It is about the civilizing of America, based on the family, and the communities they built.  A lot of the imagery in the movie, unique in Westerns, focuses on that.  There is never any question that it's the homesteaders and their families that are pitted against the ranchers.   This central message is given to Shane to deliver at the pivotal moment in the movie at the funeral, when the cause is at its nadir, and Starrett, faced with abandonment by the other homesteaders, is daunted and falters, perhaps even doubting himself.  But a lot of this operates subliminally, I think.  And people like it a lot without recognizing what makes them do so.

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The most amazing thing about Shane is that one point the role was intended for Montgomery Clift?!?!?!?

 

That's right, 31 year old (and 21 year old looking) Monty was to play tired, wore-out, past-his-time ("The difference is, I know it"), end-of-the-trail, searching-for-a-rocking-chair-and-a-porch-to-sit-on Shane.

 

I understand Clift was Hollywood's flavor of the month at the time, and that Stevens had worked with him before. But the casting still makes no sense.

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Slayton, I appreciated your response. But I wondered if you seemed offended that someone did not like SHANE and so the metaphoric lynching began.

 

I will now address a few points where I do not think your arguments were strong in defense of SHANE. 

 

First, the film is considered overrated by others on internet websites who call it that. In my case, I am rating it, and when others like it more than I do, that to me is an over-estimation of the film or over-rating of it. Those people might think I am under-rating it. So I am not going to back off on the use of the word overrated because I think it was applied correctly in my earlier post.

 

You're right that Joey is seduced by Shane's level of potential danger, and I think that is very odd to see. Another issue I have with the way Joey is used in the story is that Stevens cannot seem to decide if the film should be told in first person point of view from Joey's perspective, or if Joey should be a participant in the story from a third person more omniscient point of view. We wind up as confused about Shane as Joey.

 

The music seems to over-intensify the scenes, and more wrongly it over-romanticizes the drama to the point of absurdity on more than one occasion. I happened to watch EXECUTIVE SUITE yesterday which has no music in it at all, and the starkness of that picture without music seems much more powerful as a story about corruption. SHANE, which is ultimately supposed to represent frontier purity, should in good conscience be free of attempts to romanticize the corruption. Instead what we have is a director who fell in love with the score and used it too much, at the expense of the film's theme. 

 

The scenery is not meant to upstage the action. It is meant to provide a backdrop for the action, to create a wholesome environment at odds with the impure actions of a land-grabbing villain. In short, it should provide a symbiosis with the people who are most connected to the land in spirit, not something that competes for attention.

 

The plot is fine as it is-- and more killings do not need to be added. But a two-hour running time could easily be trimmed to 90 or 100 minutes without harming a thing. 

 

Whoever is credited with the editing (or did the actual editing) was obviously trying to sustain viewer interest during the long stretches when nothing eventful or terribly exciting was happening. When I first sat down to watch it, I couldn't understand why there was a succession of quick shots. I thought, okay this is going to be a movie I am going to have to pay close attention to, because I will miss important details. But then after about ten minutes, I realized this was just an editing trick to imply action where there was none, and I found the quick edits to not give me any new information and to often be filled with irrelevant, meaningless or repeated details in other shots that went whizzing by. As a result, the editing seemed to betray any sort of deep introspection the leisurely pacing was intended to create. The film's editing ultimately works against the director's thesis.

 

There. I think I stopped the lynching in time. LOL

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The most amazing thing about Shane is that one point the role was intended for Montgomery Clift?!?!?!?

 

That's right, 31 year old (and 21 year old looking) Monty was to play tired, wore-out, past-his-time ("The difference is, I know it"), end-of-the-trail, searching-for-a-rocking-chair-and-a-porch-to-sit-on Shane.

 

I understand Clift was Hollywood's flavor of the month at the time, and that Stevens had worked with him before. But the casting still makes no sense.

Maybe it had to do with the fact that Clift was under contract to Paramount at that time and they were trying to fit him with projects involving high-profile directors. At least that casting idea never came to pass. 

 

I think Dennis O'Keefe could have worked in the role of Shane. Not sure if he's taller or bigger than Ladd, but he has the same sort of looks.

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The most amazing thing about Shane is that one point the role was intended for Montgomery Clift?!?!?!?

 

That's right, 31 year old (and 21 year old looking) Monty was to play tired, wore-out, past-his-time ("The difference is, I know it"), end-of-the-trail, searching-for-a-rocking-chair-and-a-porch-to-sit-on Shane.

 

I understand Clift was Hollywood's flavor of the month at the time, and that Stevens had worked with him before. But the casting still makes no sense.

 

I think that rumor lost something in the translation.  The truth is that Clift was being considered for the part of Joey, not Shane. B)

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The most amazing thing about Shane is that one point the role was intended for Montgomery Clift?!?!?!?

 

That's right, 31 year old (and 21 year old looking) Monty was to play tired, wore-out, past-his-time ("The difference is, I know it"), end-of-the-trail, searching-for-a-rocking-chair-and-a-porch-to-sit-on Shane.

 

I understand Clift was Hollywood's flavor of the month at the time, and that Stevens had worked with him before. But the casting still makes no sense.

 

I think that rumor lost something in the translation.  The truth is that Clift was being considered for the part of Joey, not Shane. B)

 

LOL

 

Good one, Andy!

 

MONTGOMERY+CLIFT.jpg

 

"SHANE! Come back, Shane!"

 

(...yeah, I can see that...and MAYBE even him sayin' that last "f*** you" line I mentioned earlier!!!) ;)

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I think that rumor lost something in the translation.  The truth is that Clift was being considered for the part of Joey, not Shane. B)

20e37beb-9756-4967-9559-8ea6b348269b_zps

 

"You know, Little Joey, you're almost as big as me. And another thing that's annoying about you, I wish you would STOP looking for motivation in order to ask me how to shoot a gun. How about because the script asks you to, ya method brat!"

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Staytonf related to your question of: Ah, so if you don't like a film that is otherwise highly regarded, it is overrated

 

You state the movie is highly regarded.  I agree that reflects the general consensus.   Therefore people that don't think the movie is so great (i.e. doesn't deserve the high regard so many have for it),  would say that the movie is overrated.     

 

To me that is how I use the term 'overrated'.     Do you have another defintion?  

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Tom  related to your question of: Ah, so if you don't like a film that is otherwise highly regarded, it is overrated

 

You state the movie is highly regarded.  I agree that reflects the general consensus.   Therefore people that don't think the movie is so great (i.e. doesn't deserve the high regard so many have for it),  would say that the movie is overrated.     

 

To me that is how I use the term 'overrated'.     Do you have another defintion?  

James, you might re-direct your question to slaytonf who is the one that brought up the issue of whether or not a film is "overrated."

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"You know, Little Joey, you're almost as big as me. And another thing that's annoying about you, I wish you would STOP looking for motivation in order to ask me how to shoot a gun. How about because the script asks you to, ya method brat!"

 

LOL

 

Good one too, Tom!!!

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James, you might re-direct your question to slaytonf who is the one that brought up the issue of whether or not a film is "overrated."

 

I updated my post.  Sorry.  This is a case where I should have used the quote feature but since I was only responding to one point in a long post I didn't.     (and made a mistake!).

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Thinking more about Shane;   To me Shane does come off as a movie made by a director that watched many of the same type of westerns and decided to make his own version of the same old story.

 

All the characters aren't deeply characterized and come off a lot like archetypes.  (With the possible exception of the Ben Johnson character but this type of bad guy,  but not really, turnaround had been done many times before also).  The plot is very basic with no new twists.   

 

I understand the people that believe Stevens "tightened up the ship" (i.e. took the best from all those prior westerns about the same topic) and produced a masterpiece.      But I can also see the POV that believe Stevens wasn't very creative and that the final product comes off with all its intentions too out in the open.

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I think TopBilled has called attention to some of the problematic elements in Shane, and that slayton has made an excellent defense of the film as a whole. This is the kind of intelligent discussion I enjoy. And the jokes about Montgomery Clift playing Joey are too cool!

 

I tend to vacillate between the opposing views of this film. Stevens is a director I tend to admire rather than love, and I dislike the way he drags out the endings of The More the Merrier and The Talk of the Town. The deliberately paced, monumental style that Stevens favors after WWII suits the subject matter of Shane reasonably well.

 

Directors didn't always have control over the musical scores of their films, although Stevens may have been in a strong enough position to insist on that. There are films I would like to see without having to hear their scores, or with only a third of the score, and Red River and High Noon are at the top of that list.

 

Joey's crush on Shane is the emotional heart of the film, and these scenes work really well.

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for those of you who are underwhelmed by Shane (and those who like it too), may I suggest a western from the same year with a lot of similarities, but enough differences that maybe some of you will prefer it: Hondo, starring John Wayne and Geraldine Page- her film debut, I believe.

 

It also deals with a nomadic gun fighter (Wayne) and his relationship with a woman and her son (the father is also a character, but I won't spoil what happens with him) who are living in dangerous territory. The villains are not landowners but hostile Ind...oops, really p*ssed off "Native Americans."

 

Like Shane, Hondo is also in color, with some gorgeous vistas and a similar theme of "Hero Worship" albeit in a more complicated and complex story than what is done in the George Stevens film.

 

It's been a while since I've seen it (it was, for a loooong time I think relegated to "Right's Issues Hell" but it was shown on TCM not too long ago (was it also featured in John Wayne's SOTM tribute maybe?)

 

Hondo is also on DVD.

 

Wayne is great and has some terrific one-liners and Page is awesome- she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, but she has enough screen time that she could've been nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role (she's certainly better than some of the sorry nominees who made the cut in that year's race.) Wayne also does Oscar-worthy work, but since Hondo was done in 3-D and directed by John Farrow (who was well respected, I'm sure, but didn't have the massive reputation of Stevens, who had won the Best Director Oscar two years earlier for A Place in the Sun ), it was likely not seen as a "prestige" picture, the way Shane ultimately was and didn't garner the same accolades (of course, Shane's strong showing in the year end noiminations was also due to its monster box office.)

 

The Louis Lamour novelization of the film Hondo is also excellent.

 

Shane and Hondo would make a great double bill- with Hondo being the far more underrated of the two (and quite unfairly so.) I seem to recall the pacing in Hondo is not as glacial as it can be in some of Shane's slower scenes.

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Just a couple of points:

 

I believe the scenery, spectacular as it is, is meant to underscore several things. First, the timeless immutability of the majestic mountains, points out to the folly of the dialogue as to who was in the area the longest. It also illustrates in a very real sense the beauty of the land being fought over.

 

As for Jean Arthur being too old, whatever her actual age, yes it's part of a long Hollywood tradition, and she doesn't look any older than Van Heflin. Even if her age is supposed to be late 20s/early 30s, she pulls it off imho, especially when many frontier women looked aged before their years.

 

In 1951, Jack Palance hadn't ywlet gotten the acclaim he would from SUDDEN FEAR, so he was just another charater actor when he made SHANE, so it is only in retrospect that it may seem that he was underutilized.

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for those of you who are underwhelmed by Shane (and those who like it too), may I suggest a western from the same year with a lot of similarities, but enough differences that maybe some of you will prefer it: Hondo, starring John Wayne and Geraldine Page- her film debut, I believe.

 

It's been a while since I've seen it (it was, for a loooong time I think relegated to "Right's Issues Hell" but it was shown on TCM not too long ago (was it also featured in John Wayne's SOTM tribute maybe?)

 

 

I'm not a huge fan of John Wayne and don't seek out his movies so I wish I had known Geraldine Page was in HONDO.  

I would have definitely checked it out when it aired on TCM for an opportunity to see  Page do her thing as only she can. 

 

 

Here's some interesting information from TCM's article on HONDO:

 

Wayne had wanted an unknown actress to play the part of Angie Lowe, a pioneer woman with a handsome but slightly weathered face. Page, an acclaimed stage actress, was perfect for the part. In fact, she might have been too perfect. According to Randy Roberts and James S. Olson in their biography, John Wayne: American (University of Nebraska Press), her "teeth looked as if she had already spent a lifetime on some frontier where toothpaste and dentists were unknown." The actress was immediately sent to "a Beverly Hills dentist who crammed twenty years of dental work into three days - cleaning, picking, filling, pulling, and capping away until Page's mouth could stand the scrutiny of a zoom lens." Page also alienated some cast and crew members with her bad table manners (eating mashed potatoes and gravy with her fingers) and poor hygiene habits (she loathed to bathe) but she certainly didn't deserve the cruel treatment she received from her director and co-star. According to Roberts' and Olson's aforementioned biography, "John Ford showed up suddenly on the set and observed Farrow shooting a love scene. He told Farrow that audiences would not believe that John Wayne on screen had fallen in love with such a homely woman. Farrow had the lines rewritten, requiring Page to say: "I know I'm a homely woman, but I love you." [John's wife] Pilar Wayne later wrote that "it never occurred to Ford, Duke or John Farrow...to consider how she would feel about having to redo the love scene with the additional lines they wanted her to say."

 

As for working with Wayne, Page later revealed that due to the slow 3-D filming process, "we had lots of time to sit under the broiling Mexican sun. I sat and listened to Mr. Farrow and Mr. Wayne in horror. Everybody tried to be Duke's right-hand man and his favorite. It was like the stories you hear about the old court days. Everybody was trying to slice everybody else's reputation in the Duke's eyes. There was tremendous, tremendous competition." Yet, the actress grew to respect Wayne, stating, "He hates all kinds of hypocrisy and folderol. He's a terribly honest man, and that comes across on the screen, underlined by the parts he plays. One of his first mottoes, I think, is always to be the hero to the people around you. Wayne has a leadership quality, so that people revere him."

 

When it came time to release Hondo, the 3-D craze was starting to die so a week after the film opened nationally, the studio recalled the special process prints and replaced them with flat versions. Despite this last minute change of plans, Hondo still proved to be a hit with moviegoers but it couldn't compare with the phenomenal box office success of Shane which was released the same year and had a very similar storyline. Ironically, Geraldine Page had the last laugh when she scored an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress in Hondo, the only nomination the film would receive. It completely baffled Wayne who had made sarcastic comments to the actress about Stanislavsky, stage actors and Page's lack of film experience during the making of the movie. Seen today, Page's performance holds up beautifully but so does Wayne's and you can see the influence Hondo had on future filmmakers like George Miller, who duplicated the look of the barren landscapes and the character of the lone scout in his Mad Max series, particularly The Road Warrior (1981). 

  

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Just a couple of points:

 

I believe the scenery, spectacular as it is, is meant to underscore several things. First, the timeless immutability of the majestic mountains, points out to the folly of the dialogue as to who was in the area the longest. It also illustrates in a very real sense the beauty of the land being fought over.

 

As for Jean Arthur being too old, whatever her actual age, yes it's part of a long Hollywood tradition, and she doesn't look any older than Van Heflin. Even if her age is supposed to be late 20s/early 30s, she pulls it off imho, especially when many frontier women looked aged before their years.

 

In 1951, Jack Palance hadn't ywlet gotten the acclaim he would from SUDDEN FEAR, so he was just another charater actor when he made SHANE, so it is only in retrospect that it may seem that he was underutilized.

 

What is also part of a long Hollywood tradition is for the women to be younger than the man.   That is more common than the women being older than the man.   Of course not always as young as Audrey Hepburn was with her male stars.   

 

Note that only the major stars like Davis, Crawford,  Kate Hepburn and a few others would be cast in roles designed for women that were much younger than they were as listed in the original source material.    We all know why this was done.     The Lion in Winter is another example where a major actress was a lot older than the part of the character.  

 

Like I already said,  I believe Jean does fine and that she always looked at least 10 years younger than she really was.   Jean and Irene Dunne were fairly unique in that they played single women in romantic comedies in their 40s.    Typically the complaint about the Hollywood traditon is that women over 35 or so had to accept being cast as either mothers or the wife of a screen husband that is cheating on her with a younger women. 

 

So playing a mother of a young boy in her 50s is still some unusual casting even with these Hollywood traditions.

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I don't care to get into back and forths much.  I find that after the first statement and reply, the arguments only get recycled.  And while that may be good for the environment, it is tedious for this poster.  So I'll just say I said what I said, and people can take it like they want, as I'm sure they would anyway without my permission.  Anything new I can say will be seen below.

 

The music seems to over-intensify the scenes, and more wrongly it over-romanticizes the drama to the point of absurdity on more than one occasion. I happened to watch EXECUTIVE SUITE yesterday which has no music in it at all, and the starkness of that picture without music seems much more powerful as a story about corruption. SHANE, which is ultimately supposed to represent frontier purity, should in good conscience be free of attempts to romanticize the corruption. Instead what we have is a director who fell in love with the score and used it too much, at the expense of the film's theme. 

So let me see.  Executive Suite: corruption:  no music.  Shane:  purity:  and still no music?  This is aside from the misapprehension of the core precept of the movie being about corruption/purity.  There's nothing corrupt about the ranchers.  They are sincere and honest about their goals, if condemnable about their methods.

 

 

The scenery is not meant to upstage the action. It is meant to provide a backdrop for the action, to create a wholesome environment at odds with the impure actions of a land-grabbing villain. In short, it should provide a symbiosis with the people who are most connected to the land in spirit, not something that competes for attention.

 

I get it.  You mean scenery should never upstage the action.  That George Stevens made a mistake to allow the magnificence of Jackson Hole to predominate over the actors.  Presumably that is also why Lawrence of Arabia, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, among others, are failures, as well.

 

By the way,  it was the homesteaders who were the land-grabbers, not the ranchers.

 

 

 

 during the long stretches when nothing eventful or terribly exciting was happening.

 

Could you cite a couple of examples, because I don't know of any scene in the film that does not advance the plot, or contribute to character development.

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Staytonf related to your question of: Ah, so if you don't like a film that is otherwise highly regarded, it is overrated

 

You state the movie is highly regarded.  I agree that reflects the general consensus.   Therefore people that don't think the movie is so great (i.e. doesn't deserve the high regard so many have for it),  would say that the movie is overrated.     

 

To me that is how I use the term 'overrated'.     Do you have another defintion?  

My contention is that the use of the term is at least meaningless, and at worst dismissive of the opinions of others.  The implication is that because the writer does not like the movie in question, it is not a good movie, and therefore, the judgement of the ones who do like it is lacking.  Just because someone does not like a movie does not mean it is bad.  I do not care for Last Year at Marienbad, and have never made it past more than the first handful of minutes of it.  But I recognize it is a great and important film.  I just don't like it.  I also don't go into paroxysms of ecstasy at the thought of Gone With the Wind, but understand how it attained its regard.  Because my appreciation for it is middling, I don't think of it as middling, or that it is 'overrated' and doesn't deserve its place in film history.

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