45. Shane (1953)

A weary gunfighter attempts to settle down with a homestead family, but a smoldering settler/rancher conflict forces him to act. 

Somebody please tell me why there are nearly ten Westerns on AFI’s 10th Anniversary Top 100 list? That is completely unnecessary. Have two, maybe three, and make sure they are all different and celebrated for different things. Because if I have to watch one more Western where the main draw to the film is the scenery, I will scream. 

Directed by George Stevens, Shane is beautifully shot, I will give it that. Other than that, the film is boring and filled with the same machismo stereotypes present in nearly every other Western I have ever seen. There’s one actual speaking part for a woman, the character of Marian Starret, played by Jean Arthur. She’s a mother to a rather annoying child, Joey, played by Brandon De Wilde. Shane, played by Alan Ladd, is hired by Joe Starret, played by Van Heflin, as a farm hand and it seems, almost immediately, everybody in the family has a strong connection to Shane, especially Joey. And, frankly, I don’t get it. 

The entire time I was watching the film. I was trying to come up with reasons that this film is on this list. Sure, the cinematography is gorgeous and the fight choreography is pretty good. But, that’s all I could come up with and neither of those are reason enough for this film to be on the AFI list. I felt like nothing was really going on in the film. I didn’t think the character of Shane was strong enough to keep me interested or have me emotionally involved in the film. This mainly just feels like two hours of my life I won’t get back. 

Look, if you like or love Westerns, more power to you. I just feel that they are outdated and the general public can no longer relate to them like they used to be able to. Western’s were part of a very specific time in film history and that is it. Which is why I feel, like I said, that having two, maybe three, on this list would be enough. Have a classic like The Searchers (1956), have a more modern one like Unforgiven (1992), and then have Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on there for good measure.There is no need, in my opinion, for this specific film to still be on this list after all these years. 

 

 

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