Screengrab: The righteous cowpoke that walked into destiny

Richard Lutz grabs his cowboy hat and peashooter and heads west for the movie of the week on that flat screen in the corner of your living room.


Shane (Tuesday, 16.30, Film4)  is a great Hollywood movie about the solitary good guy versus the crazed crowd. A western tale embroidered with the myth that A Man’s Gotta Do…

Alan Ladd is a tired gunslinger who tries to settle down with homesteaders Van Heflin and wife Jean Arthur to lead a quiet life. But ultimo-baddie Jack Palance (mega bad) and his henchmen are itching for a fight. And only Shane stands up to him. 

He knows to hit the fighting scene is a retrograde step. But he is driven by fate. He is a gunfighter. Not a sodbuster. So Shane, the loner, goes back down the road to perdition and violence. There’s a keen subplot about Shane’s attraction to the rancher’s wife and how he is idolised by her small son. But the story is about a Man and His Destiny. It is, in effect, a chapter in that great American cowboy story of One Man and His Gun- similar to High Noon, The Searchers and Lonely Are The Brave. 

This is a story with a stark and simple theme of innate violence (appallingly played out in the streets of America today) that strikes a chord. And Palance, all jangly boots and menacing grin, is nasty, nasty, nasty as hired gun Jack Wilson.

The final scene is a movie classic too: Shane walking away from the farm (and normalcy) with little boy Joey (played by a young Brandon de Wilde) crying out: “Shane…Shane…come back.”

Of course, he won’t. And he doesn’t. He’s simply walking into film history.


(Parts of this mini review have been brazenly ripped off from a former article by the same author.)