Shane - Paramount’s Classic Western (hardback)
Shane has often been described as the most perfect sagebrush exemplification of Hollywood’s Golden Age. A masterpiece of tone and technique, it was George Stevens’ atmospheric valentine to an era if not a genre.
Alan Ladd gave an emblematic performance in it. Jean Arthur excelled as the woman he falls in love with but cannot have. Van Heflin was pitch perfect as her decent, rough-hewn husband.
Jack Palance won an Oscar nomination for playing the Luciferean villain Jack Wilson and so did Brandon De Wilde as the tow-headed Joey Starrett who idolizes the mysterious stranger riding into the valley to purge it of evil.
The film, like the much-loved novel upon which it was based, was largely seen from Joey’s eyes. In his odyssey from child to man, mirroring Shane’s cathartic journey from gunfighter to farmhand and back to gunfighter again, we see two separate dramas playing themselves out. They do so against the backdrop of the majestic Teton peaks, and a range war that pits venal cattle barons against primitive farmers trying to eke out a living on Wyoming’s hard soil.
Aubrey Malone analyses every aspect of this groundbreaking film in the present book. It draws on a multiplicity of sources, many of them rare. He studies the day-to-day events of the shoot as well as the symbolic import of the film in a book that’s as detailed as it’s wide-ranging.
Copiously illustrated both with stills from the film and candid shots of the stars between takes and off the set, this is the definitive study of Hollywood’s definitive western.