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Shane (1953)


Reviewed by Doug Boilesen

OK, so this movie ends with the often mocked "Shaaaaane..., come baaaaaack..." And for Friends of the Phonograph it doesn't have any phonographs in the movie (although it technically could have had an Edison Class "M" Phonograph since this time period was supposed to be 1889).

Nonetheless, Shane is in my top ten because it is a great western. Perhaps I'm trying to justify how many times I've watched it by calling it great. But who cannot think of Shane as the archetype of movie westerns with its storyline and its setting in the magnificent Grand Tetons. It's good guy vs. bad guy, Alan Ladd as the one and only Shane in his white hat versus Jack Palance in his black hat and perfectly cast as the evil gunfighter Wilson ("yeah, that was Wilson all right. He was fast, real fast...").


Copyright© 1953 Paramount Pictures



In my home town Shane had originally played at the classic Lincoln, Nebraska movie theatre aptly named the Lincoln; but I first saw this movie at the Star View drive-in theatre later at the end of the 1950's when the outdoor theatre was still a fun weekend event for the family.


When watching the movie one feels the remoteness of the place, separated from law and order and miles from the nearest town. Store-bought clothes and soda pop in Grafton's General Store provided clues that there was civilization beyond the muddy streets of the fictional town near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. But the source of those goods was a distant world from this valley with no real impact on daily life. Note: For some interesting information related to the filming location of Shane see Mike Jackson's "Shane - The Epic movie filmed in Jackson Hole."


The heart of this story for me is the land and the people and the conflict between the fence-building homesteaders and the open-range cattlemen who did not want civilization or change. Shane comes to the valley, removes those who were preventing 'progress' and then must himself leave because he was part of that old order and as the "last gun" in the valley has no place in it.







In the early 1980's I frequently enjoyed this movie at the home of my friends Dave and Kathy Aiken who owned an RCA SelectaVision videodisc player and Shane was one of their CED (Capacitance Electronic Discs) videodiscs. The videodisc itself would not be able to compete with video tapes and laserdiscs and by 1986 videodiscs were no longer made. But as a Friend of the Phonograph I appreciated CED technology because it was essentially a high-tech phonograph that actually used a record player needle to display images and sound. It was part of that new world of home entertainment that allowed the presentation of movies like Shane in your own home whenever you wanted to insert a disc.





March 22, 1981 RCA introduced its analog video format, the SelectaVision CED VideoDisc system




Shane clearly has personal associations for me regarding when and how and where I watched it and perhaps it is getting some extra review points for those connections. But ultimately it's a great movie regardless of those memories.


In short, I have this movie in my top ten as a classic western and pre-eminent example of its genre.




Other home entertainment formats were VHS, Betamax, Laser Videodisc, DVD and Blu-Ray DVD.




Grand Opening ad for the Star View Outdoor Theatre, May 28,1948

Star View photos courtesy of

The Lincoln Theatre,1227 N Street, Lincoln, NE - Shane ca.1954

The Lincoln Theatre - Opened May 18, 1925 with Gloria Swanson in “Madame Sans Gene”. The Boller Brothers were the architects of this 1,600 seat theatre (850 orchestra, 750 balcony). R.E. Hall & Company were the consulting engineers. The Lincoln Theatre was operated by Paramount-Publix. By 1957 it was operated by the Cooper Foundation. It was closed in 1961 and demolished in 1962. Courtesy of CinemaTreasures

Lincoln Theatre Interior, 1929