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 Post subject: Most Troubling Question Of All Time!
PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 2:38 pm 
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OK, OK...I know that I probably shouldn't be posting this question here, but I have too much respect for the brain power that visits this forum!

The 1953 movie SHANE, directed by George Stevens with screenplay by A. B. Guthrie, Jr., and starring Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin and the redoubtable Jack Palance, is one of my all-time favorite, classic westerns. If you've never seen it, you owe it to yourself to secure a copy as soon as possible and watch it at least 10 times! Beautifully filmed in part near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, this picture roars out character! Great shots, sturdy and compelling acting, great scenes, a lot of unspoken dialogue and excellent attention to detail mark this production as one of the most fascinating westerns ever made. (As much as I hate to admit it, I could probably connect this film to the ACWGC by stating that in the climatic gun fight, when Shane faces the evil and deadly Wilson, Shane says "You're a low-down Yankee liar".)

But ever since I first saw the thing I've been troubled by one burning question in the story, that coming at the very end of the film: how badly did Shane get shot? Did he received a mortal wound that wasn't immediately apparent or was it just a grazing shot in his left arm? The last we see of Shane as he rides away out of the valley after speaking to young Joey is a very deliberate yet subtle sequence of him slightly swaying in the saddle with his arm hanging limply at his side. Its also nighttime so we can't see any clear detail, just enough to know that he's hurt and riding away.

So let me ask those of you who have seen the film, how badly do you think he was hurt? If you go back within the gunfight and view the shot that hit him, it was fired above him and to his rear as he was turning in a sudden crouch. But we're never really certain as to where it hit him, except somewhere on his left side. Please tell me that you think Shane survived! :?

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 Post subject: Re: Most Troubling Question Of All Time!
PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 4:37 pm 
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I've always had a problem with this question myself . . . The whole movie is an allegory. My tendency is to say that he rides off to die, because he doesn't want to stay and have the boy see him die. He wants the boy's father, played by Van Heflin, to dominate the kid's thoughts, and if he stayed and died there, he would be a martyr to the boy and therefore detract from the father. Etc etc etc it's in there somewhere.

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 Post subject: Re: Most Troubling Question Of All Time!
PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 4:57 pm 
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Shane made it just out of sight before he fell from the saddle onto an ant hill, the ants were stinging him to near death when he saw a water hole nearby. His slow and agonizingly painful crawl towards the water hole came to an end when he, in his dazed state of mind, crawled into quick sand and began to slowly sink, but the coolness of the quicksand gave him comfort and chased the ants away. Having regained some of his senses he noticed a branch near enough that he could just barely reach it and was about to pull himself to safety when he heard the sound of thunder and the earth shook. He noticed that the sky was clear and wondered what was causing the thunderous sound as he worked to pull himself to dry land. The thunder continued as he reached safety and even became louder. He looked up just in time to see a regiment of routed rebs come storming over the hill and trample him.

I know this is not what you wanted to hear but life is not always kind.

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 Post subject: Re: Most Troubling Question Of All Time!
PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 5:35 pm 
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Now that's what I mean about respecting the brain power in this forum! I would have been heartbroken if it had been anything other than routed Rebs that trampled him.

But where David's imagination is priceless, Dwight proves that he understands the film completely..."a martyr to the boy!"

One of the most chilling scenes in the film is when Wilson first rides into town and slowly walks into the empty bar as a mangy dog slowly slinks away from him!

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Commander, Army of the Shenandoah
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 Post subject: Re: Most Troubling Question Of All Time!
PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 7:20 pm 
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Joe!

Gentlemen!

My FAVOURITE western of all time! - It'll NEVER be bettered. :mrgreen:

My take on the film takes Us back to when I was 6-8 years old . . . I can't be more accurate than that, other than it is a point where I can safely say that my own personal Hero-Worship of my own Dad certainly multiplied if not when it actually began.

This was before video and definitely before DVD . . . so when a movie came along - Ye either watched it 'live' or Ye had to wait until one of Our 4 - Yayus 4 - TV stations showed it again. As it happened, one Saturday Dad treated me to staying up 'very late' - prob'ly as late as 10 o'clock(!!!!!!!) to see 'The Best Western ever made". (His words NOT - mine at the time).

I HATED IT! Slow, Dull, a unglamourous, horribly mucky Town, a Saloon Brawl and a sixty second (if that) Gunfight at the end and then that Soppy Love Story with Ma throughout the story, the disturbing (particularly for a child) conflict between Ladd and van Heflyn and the tear-jerker ending - Shane, Shane, Shane, Shaaaane . . . we ALL love yuh!" (Bleuch!)

I complained to Dad . . . . and as luck would have it - one of the other TV stations was showing Shane again - on a school night - during the following week. Dad promised Me that I could stay up - if I listened to what He was going to explain to Me . . . . . his analysis will stay with Me 'till the days when both He and I 'pop off' to meet Shane in person.

Shane is an ex- Confederate, who because of his experiences in the Civil War and thru’ circumstances in the post-bellum South He has chosen to wander the Frontier, seeking a place where He can put down roots and put the War and his personal 'sins' behind him. (There is scope for believing that as an Officer and he failed his Men at some point – possibly even seeking the Rear during a critical phase of the Battle and leaving his men to their fate. Basically there’s a hint at Post Traumatic Syndrome . . . . way, way, way before that became a popular ‘Hollywood Theme’ .)

Sooo . . . Dad gave me some pointers to watch out for on my 2nd viewing of the Film.

Shane’s manner of dress – hinting at the Confederate Officer’s Uniform.
Shane’s Courtesy and Manners – his quiet spoken and polite conversation . . . even when speaking to the Baddies – hinting at his ‘Genteel Southern Gentleman’ roots.
His eschewal of Whiskey and Tobacco – a clean living Man.
His obvious feeling for van Heflyn’s wife – but his restraint and respect displayed in his treatment of Her and her Husband.
His refusal to work for the Baddies and his association with the Farmers – this is a most important depiction of the Baddies attempting to ‘rule the roost’, interfering with the Liberties of Others . . . a subtle, but unmissable ‘dig’ at Yankeedom and States’ Rights.
These points were made to place Shane in your mind’s eye, as a Good Man – inexorably drawn to do BAD things later in the tale, when Fire had to be met with Fire – when Evil had to be defeated by it’s own nefarious methods.

Wilson/Palance was a brilliant piece of casting. Again – Dad’s pointers:

He dresses totally in black and rides a totally black horse – just to make sure You KNOW he’s the Villain.
He rides into Town and THAT dog is on the boardwalk – slinking into the Saloon upon first sight of Wilson. (“Something really BAAAAAD has just come into town – I’m outta here!”)
Palance’s dismount of his horse – in stages, freezing at times during the dismount, poised and balanced, menacing – like a Preying Mantis stalking prey.
THAT Dog again slinks out of the Saloon and into the adjoining Grocery when Wilson enters . . . (Maaaaan . . . sometimes Trouble jest follows Ye around like a baaaaaad smell!")
Wilson's ready association and willingness to work and accept pay from the Baddies/Yankees – show him as another Yankee – a Carpetbagger with guns . . . . no thought/respect given for the Rights of the Farmer’s. . . . . . Pure Evil.
His ‘Yankeeness’ is also displayed when He goads Torrey into drawing on Wilson first so Wilson can gun him down ‘in self-defence’, after Torrey toasts General Stonewall Jackson and his own southern home state (Alabama?) - on the 4th of July.
He also advocates and praises the ‘Yankee’s’ burning of the Hill’s home when the Farmer's are all attending Torrey's funeral – driving Him and his Family from the Valley.

Obviously at the age I was at the time – Dad used simpler language, didn’t mention the sexual tension in the ménage a trois of Shane, ‘Big’ Joe and his Wife and some of Dad’s points sailed right over my head . . . . . but I understood that there was a Story behind the story – in big, adult words – the Film was an allegory.

As Years passed, I watched the movie over 20 times and each time another layer evolved in my mind.

The Story had to End – as did the allegory.

My take is that Alan Ladd couldn’t be seen to die . . . . He was the BIG Hollywood star, the Hero, the Good Guy . . . the story HAD to end with Him alive and the Bad Guys face down in the muck.

He couldn’t remain in the Town – too much torment, temptation and scandal lay ahead of Him involving the Farmer’s Wife.

AND even at my tender age – I could see the conflict Joey struggled with between his love for his Father and his awe of Shane. (If I recall correctly – Joey tells his Mother he hates Shane for hurting his Father after Shane and Joe fight in the Farmyard and then questions why the two men He loves were fighting in the first place???)

So why was Shane wounded at all?

From a plotline perspective – there was the shock ‘n’ horror, Gasp! Whew! Audience 'thrill' reaction – what the schills paid their dollar to see.

From the allegory perspective – I believe that Shane WAS the Confederacy. Plain and simple.

He came upon a situation where ‘States’ Rights’ needed defending. The Farmers/States are depicted as a Swede, a stereo-typical 'roughneck' Southerner, a hint of Texas - 'Starrett', a neutral/slightly English 'Hill', etc . . . . whilst the Ranchers are depicted as 'Stateless' and homogenous.

Agrarian society was being tyrannised by the ‘industrial’ methods of the Ranchers. Shane assists the Farmers and resists the ‘Yankees’ by peaceable means . . . but, when they up the ante and become aggressively ‘physical’ and hostile . . . . even tho’ he is hopelessly outnumbered and out gunned . . . Shane takes them on (and because the Film has a pro-southern slant) – he wins.

Shane is depicted as standing up for the ‘American Ideal’.

And Shane riding into the sunset, hiding his wounds and as kindly as he can - spurning Joey’s pleas for him to remain . . . . . He has already told Joey that His (Shanes’) place/world is of the past and that Joey should work and behave well to ensure his (Joey’s) future and happiness . . . . is – To Me ‘n’ Dad . . . .

THE Question the viewer is left to determine for Himself.

The allegory proposes that - The Confederacy won on moral grounds, but was defeated and damaged in physical terms . . . . However - was it Right and Proper . . . . . or has/did/will it become just another romanticised adjunct in ‘futility’ that recurs throughout History?

IF Shane was Right in what he did and admirable in his actions – then so was the Confederacy.

IF the Union were Right and admirable in their actions – then Shane fell off the Horse once he crested the Hill and the sun went down.

Either way . . . . he wasn’t trampled by routed Rebs . . . . they woulda picked him up and brought him back to health.

Pat.

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Last edited by eireb on Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Most Troubling Question Of All Time!
PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:03 pm 
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OUTSTANDING! WHAT A COMPLETELY MASTERFUL DISSERTATION UPON THIS SUBJECT!

Pat, you have at once painted a completely credible, underlying theme to this film and validated my posting of this thread here in the MDT, rather than the Smoking Room where it would have been crassly tossed aside in the heat of current politics!

Now as I think upon it I realize why Starrett (pronouced Star'k) had such a small gun in his hands to ward off Ryker's initial visit.

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Commander, Army of the Shenandoah
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 Post subject: Re: Most Troubling Question Of All Time!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2011 1:56 am 
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I will have to have a look at this movie. I am sure I have seen it at least once many years ago. Came out the year I was born.

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Army of Northern Virginia
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 Post subject: Re: Most Troubling Question Of All Time!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2011 12:10 pm 
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Gosh, I thought the General was trying to find his bottle of Madeira and never dreamed Shane's wound or demise was his "all time question."

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Army of the Cumberland
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 Post subject: Re: Most Troubling Question Of All Time!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2011 12:15 pm 
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Well Dave - It is his all time question . . . .

AFTER his bottle of Madeira!!!! :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Most Troubling Question Of All Time!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2011 12:41 pm 
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Shane should have shot Van Heflin in the back, sold the boy into slavery and got straight to work on Jean Arthur. All that trouble over a scrubby patch of land!

Jean Arthur was 52 when Shane was filmed ...10 years older than Van Heflin and 13 years older than Alan Ladd. That must have been almost shocking to the showbusiness gossip columns of the day?

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 Post subject: Re: Most Troubling Question Of All Time!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2011 5:31 pm 
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pierred wrote:
I will have to have a look at this movie. I am sure I have seen it at least once many years ago. Came out the year I was born.


They had TALKIES way back then??? :o :o :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Most Troubling Question Of All Time!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2011 9:08 pm 
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Ernie Sands wrote:
pierred wrote:
I will have to have a look at this movie. I am sure I have seen it at least once many years ago. Came out the year I was born.


They had TALKIES way back then??? :o :o :lol:


Heck! - AND I thought Pierre was an EYE-WITNESS!!!!! :oops: :lol: :roll:

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