Shane Town Site, GTNP
Excerpted from Walt Farmer's cdrombooks, "Wyoming, A History of Film & Video in the 20th Century" and "The Making of Shane"
SHANE, 1953, Paramount
Director Stevens: was involved in every frame of editing for the film. From sound to the tiniest detail, his hand was on each cut, including the glaring errors not observed until much later. He shot and reshot scenes, used one angle and then another, he'd rewrite dialogue, even slow or hold production if necessary. He was often observed walking about the set, checking camera angles, rewriting the dialogue in his head, muttering passages as if to test their realism to the setting. He was even the company clerk on the production. To some critics after the film was released, these areas were either Stevens' strong point or his most egregious sin.
Only 9 shots are fired in anger and 4 of them are mortal. In the final gunfight, Shane fires 4 of 8 shots, killing 3 men. Staging the gunfight between Wilson and Torrey, the company was behind schedule and working 7 days a week just to keep up. The shootout was scheduled to film on a Sunday and the idea was to have it look as if it took place just after a rainstorm. All day Saturday, the crew prepared the street by soaking it with water trucked in from the Snake River and Ditch Creek. Stevens also employed certain devices to enhance an actor being shot. Wires were fastened to a leather belt buckle on the actor (Cook) and controlled by a pulley which a crewman yanked when necessary. This is particularly evident with Torrey as his being struck by Wilson's bullet is almost too artificial, although close scrutiny of the film doesn't show evidence of the wire. For the contrasting effect, note the beautiful spring call of a meadowlark just after the shooting.
Van Heflin: a New Yorker and a novice to trout fishing, he nonetheless took to the Snake River quickly. In one of two incidents, he got together with 4 others for a fishing trip from Moose down to Wilson, Wyo. The rubber boat's motor lost a shear pin and went out of control into a partially submerged tree. All made it to shore and while they retrieved the boat, they'd lost the paddles and all their fishing gear. Other than the exposure, only Heflin was injured with a cut lip. It became quite a local story of a near tragedy, as Heflin apparently couldn't stay dry when going boating on the Snake.
Jack Palance's distinct face was the result of a wartime aircraft injury and subsequent plastic surgery. He was remembered for his work rehearsing his fast draw (under the tutelage of Buck Wayne) and the mounting of his horse. At the time, he was rather afraid of horses and his slow mount and dismount was in deference to them. It seems that his horse never quite adapted to his weight during his very slow mounting. Off set, he was remembered for his brusque manner and for walking the streets of Jackson at night wearing a white dinner jacket.
A Review? The Communist publication "Daily Worker," gave the film a review that in retrospect, was amusing in its perception of what the film was about. It likened the film to a conflict between the landed proletariat and the "terroristic" cattle barons. They speculated that Ladd's several bloody fistfights constituted a, "...capitulation to current Hollywood standards." The modern parallel was that, "Just as the cattle barons of the 1870s, '80s, and '90s sought to appropriate unto themselves the range of the public domain, so today, under the Eisenhower Administration, are the modern barons seeking to convert their grazing permits in national parks and other public areas to form a permanent tax-free title." But the main trouble was that the film, "...tends to glorify individual - as opposed to collective - action." Those Commies can sure poo-poo a good shoot-em-up.
One Flub of Many: As Shane rides up to the Starrett homestead and the scenes flash back and forth from little Joe stalking the yearling deer, to the deer and Shane riding in, two separate shots of Shane show the movement of a large vehicle(RV) on the Kelly road that was behind the shot. It's moving by the tree from left to right on screen, and then again left to right just behind Shane in the subsequent shot. Perhaps they saw their error in editing, but couldn't go back and reshoot and hoped that it wouldn't be particularly noticeable, except that the premiere was on the enormous screen at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Oops. ***As a new addendum, 3/2000, the latest release of Shane from Paramount on DVD, the RV or bus, has now been optically removed, BUT, still on the DVD is the trailer & the flub is still in the trailer.
In yet one more mention if you haven't seen the notice already, I have just completed (9/00) a cdrombook about how this unforgettable movie was made. You can find info about every facet of how the film came to be, behind the scenes stories, never before seen photos, detailed descriptions to the location sites & so much more, by going to my webpage on this site. The Making of Shane will be a wderful resource to the fan, the film historian and buff, and just anyone who enjoys a good movie and wants to know more about how they're put together.