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"Shane! Come back!"
Based on the novel by Jack Schaefer.
A Determined Homesteader named Starrett, his wife, and their young son are running a small farm. Some cattle ranchers want to force them out (along with the other Nesters), either with money or with guns. They are using an army of Mooks for this. While this is going on, a wanderer in buckskin clothing named Shane meets Starrett, and after a quickly resolved misunderstanding, Shane is accepted by the family and begins working for Starrett. Shane is soon idolized by the young boy, who wants to learn how to shoot. There is extensive discussion between Shane, Starrett, and his wife about the appropriateness of guns and violence.
Ultimately Shane protects the Determined Homesteader using violence, knowing that this means he will never be able to settle down to a peaceful life, Shane is cursed by his previous choices in life to always be The Gunslinger, always drifting. His final words before leaving is to tell the young boy to run home and tell his mother that she has her wish "there are no more guns in the valley", Shane leaving is of course required for this to be true.
Subject to a famous debate about the ending: Is Shane dead, or did he survive?
Tropes in this Film:
- Ax Crazy: "Prove it."
- Badass: Shane and Starett
- Badass Adorable: Joey.
- Bang Bang BANG: Holy crap.
- Bar Brawl
- Blood Knight Jack Wilson
- But Now I Must Go: Maybe... depending on whether you agree with Shane or not.
- Arguably the Trope Codifier in film; the ambivalent ending is referenced constantly in film.
- Chairman of the Brawl
- Constantly Curious: Joey.
- Determined Homesteader
- The Dragon Jack Wilson
- The Drifter: Shane is a perfect example of this.
- Empathic Environment: During the confrontation between Starrett and Shane- one of the best examples of this trope actually
- The Film of the Book
- Heel Face Turn: Chris Calloway.
- The Gunslinger: Shane
- Guns Akimbo: Subverted for the title character, who is a firm believer that one gun is all he needs.
- Happy Ending: For Jean Arthur's career after thirty years of movies. Few actors have gone out on a higher note.
- Heroic Sacrifice
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Inverted in terms of casting. Elisha Cook Junior normally plays this type of character, but in this film, he plays a good guy, "Stonewall" Torrey, a Southern Determined Homesteader and friend of the Starrets. In every other respect, he lives "up" to this trope to a T. He's a consistent failure, resents the fact that neither friends nor enemies take him seriously, but is determined to stand up for himself and the Lost Cause...all of which sets him up as an all-too-easy victim to one of the most effective and unsympathetic villains in Western film history.
- Knight Errant: Shane, of course
- One-Scene Wonder: Jack Palance's role as Wilson is both brief enough and unforgettable enough to qualify as this.
- Percussive Prevention: Subverted into a horrifying fight between friends, complete with Empathic Environment.
- The Quiet One
- Recycled: the Series - In 1966, there was a single season of the Shane television series. Starring David Carradine as Shane!
- Retired Gunfighter
- Scenery Porn: Shot in glorious Technicolor in Wyoming's Jackson Hole valley.
- Shell Shocked Senior
- Small Role, Big Impact: Wilson has 8 minutes of screen time and less than 50 words of dialogue. Made the most of it, didn't he? On a more meta level, Wilson is considered one of the definitive Western bad guys and one of the most remembered roles from the career of Jack Palance, who acted for more than 50 years in over 70 movies.
- Tear Jerker - "Shane, Come Back!!"