Directed by George Stevens, Shane (1953) is a Western—interestingly, one in which everything points to America still being a relatively young country. Men try to make a living in a spacious land where deer approach farms and a muddy ground fronts a needed dry goods store-cum-tavern.
Here and there the script by A.B. Guthrie Jr., based on a novel, is laughably weak. (Why does Joe Starrett [Van Heflin] show himself to be naïve about the angry Ryker?) But the film’s violent action—everything from the shooting of Torrey to the final showdown—is sobering and riveting, and there are exquisite epic images in a non-epic movie. I am prompted also to observe that, what with all the doings of Brandon De Wilde‘s Joey, Shane is practically a children’s film.