For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!
During this countdown I’ve encountered several Westerns- and have repeatedly shared my dislike for the genre in general – however, ‘Shane‘ is so different. I thought this film was fantastic, it’s real, it has a heartbeat. The film opens with a stranger, wearing buckskin and a six shooter, riding into an isolated and sparsely settled valley in Wyoming. We don’t learn of Shane’s past, but we understand he is an experienced and very skilled gunslinger. He stays as a farmhand with a homesteader family, Joe Starrett, (Van Heflin), his wife Marian, (Jean Arthur), and their son, Young Joey, (Brandon DeWilde). Soon Shane finds himself drawn into a conflict between all of the homesteaders and the ruthless cattle baron, Rufus Ryker (Emile Meyer), who wants to force the homesteaders off the land. Shane takes the lead in protecting the homesteaders.
There are a couple of incredible things about this film. First is that our visual narrator is Young Joey- we watch much of the action from his point of view, a welcome change, in my opinion. Secondly, the visual direction and gritty cinematography make each moment look like an antiquated painting of a Western town. This is actually where the film’s only Oscar was won. While some may lean toward the ‘shinier’ Westerns on this list, ‘Shane‘ and ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid‘ are my favorites.
In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns: