Saturday, February 27, 2016

Post One Thousand

This is my one thousandth post here on Hamlette's Soliloquy!  I've been trying to figure out something special for this post.  But I just finished a giveaway, my list of my favorite 100 movies isn't ready yet, and I did an AMA not all that long ago, so... what to do?

I've decided to just share some of my old headers with you, because I've had quite a few over the past couple of years that I liked a great deal.  So here we go, a trip down blog memory lane.

When I started this blog, way back in 2002, I had a completely different background, something with a lighthouse.  I just had my name across the top, no fancy header.  I switched to this red curtain background sometime around 2009, I think, figuring it was fitting for a blog named after something from stage plays, in which I discuss a lot of dramas and such.  But I just had my title up at the top with no images until September of 2014, when I changed it to this for my Piratical Blogathon:

September, 2014
Once I got a taste for creating headers, I started swapping them out pretty frequently.  I made this one for Christmas that year:

December, 2014

I soon changed it to this:

January, 2015

I only had that one for a couple of months, though, because I changed it to this while working on the Middle Earth Movie Meme:

April, 2015
Then I decided I really should have Hamlet on my header for a while, so I swapped it out for a shot of Jude Law in Hamlet on Broadway from back in 2009:

May, 2015
I changed it up again for Legends of Western Cinema Week:

July, 2015

I swapped that out for this Man from U.N.C.L.E.-themed header:

September, 2015

I liked that one so well, I didn't change my header until Christmas:

December, 2015
I created this one for Cinderella Week:

January, 2016

And, just for posterity, here's the one I have right now, which features all the regulars on Combat!, which I created for 1940's Week:

February, 2016
I don't plan on swapping this out any time soon, but you never know... I might join some blogathon or find something to celebrate or just find a picture I reeeeeeeeally like....

Anyway, I also want to say thank you to all my lovely blogging friends for reading my posts, commenting on them, and generally being swell pals.  Thank you!!!  I wouldn't have stuck with this for 13 1/2 years if it hadn't been for all of you.


Friday, February 26, 2016

The Giveaway Winners!


The Rafflecopter widget has spoken!  Here are the winners for these four delicious westerns:

Shane -- Lois Johnson

Silverado -- Carissa

3:10 to Yuma -- Ekaterina

Whispering Smith -- Annie


Congratulations!  You'll be getting an email from me this morning, at the address you provided to the widget.  Please respond by Thursday, March 4, or I'll have to disqualify you and award your prize to someone else.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Happy Tag

Sara of A Free Mind tagged me with this.  I've fallen waaaaaaaaay behind in doing tags lately, though I hope to do a couple of the others I've been tagged with this month -- we'll see if I can scrounge the time.  But anyway, this seems to just require listing some things that make you happy in particular categories, which is quick and fun, so here goes!


Books:

everything by Raymond Chandler
the Sherlock Holmes books and stories by A. Conan Doyle
the Nero Wolfe books by Rex Stout
the Anne of Green Gables books by L.M. Montgomery
the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes books by Laurie R. King


Words:

dream
yearn
enchant
persnickety
selbstverstaendlich (it's a German word that means "obviously")


Movies/TV:

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
The Lone Ranger (2013)
And Now Tomorrow (1944)
Gunfight in Abilene (1967)
all the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies


Scents:

cinnamon
coffee
lavender
lemon
fresh dirt


Songs:

"Mack the Knife" sung by Bobby Darin
"Cracklin' Rosie" sung by Neil Diamond
"All Star" by Smash Mouth
"Windy" by The Association
"A Little Less Conversation" by Elvis Presley (JXL remix)


Misc:

daydreaming
the bubbly, bouncy feeling when a story idea is throwing sparks
brownies
daffodils
morning snuggles with my little mice





And I hereby tag anybody who's feeling happy, who's feeling glum, who's feeling bored, or who has been searching for something to blog about.  All be happy!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"Risen" (2016)

I saw this on Saturday, and the more I contemplate it, the more I like it.  In fact, if this is playing anywhere near you, and you're at all inclined to see it, I urge you to do so, because I think we need to tell Hollywood that this is the kind of Biblical movie we need.

I usually go into Biblical movies wondering, "Okay, how are they going to screw this up?"  My expectations are low, and my skepticism is high.  Because the Bible is the one thing I'm a purist about, and it's rare that a mainstream movie gets things right.

Also, lately "Biblical" movies like Noah (2014) and Exodus:  Gods and Kings (2014) have been so screwed up -- filmmakers seem to be trying to make Bible stories "more interesting" in recent years.  And they choose the oddest stories to "improve" too, because come on, Noah and Moses?  Two deeply fascinating people already.  There's plenty of factual material to work with -- you don't need to add stuff.  But filmmakers haven't seen things that way.

So, to be honest, I went into this thinking, "Why do we need another movie about Jesus told from a Roman soldier's point of view?  We already have The Robe.  This has been done already."

I was so wrong.

(Source)

It opens with a Roman tribune, Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), skillfully directing his soldiers as they put down an insurrection.  He returns to his barracks in Jerusalem and doesn't even get a chance to wash the blood from his hands and face before Pilate (Peter Firth) summons him to go break the legs of this Jewish dude and a couple thieves Pilate has crucified so they die quickly.

Clavius does as he's told, because he's a good and obedient soldier.  He's ambitious and plans to climb the army ranks until he's important enough to live in Rome.  He takes care ensuring the crucified men die, then that their bodies are dealt with.  But in the morning, Pilate summons him again.  The Jewish religious leaders are worried because the dead dude, Yeshua (Cliff Curtis), foretold he would die and then rise again on the third day.  They don't want his followers stealing his body, claiming a resurrection, and stirring up all kinds of trouble.  Pilate doesn't want that either because Caesar himself is coming on a little inspection tour in a couple of weeks, and the last thing Pilate needs is another riot.  So he sends Clavius to make sure the body is still in the tomb, seal it up, and set a guard.

Clavius does as he's told, once again.

And we all know what comes next.  Sunday morning, no body.  Tomb empty, seals broken, ropes burst, guards freaked out, and definitely no body.

This is where it gets REALLY GOOD.  Clavius gets tasked with finding out what happened here, so it becomes a kind of un-murder mystery for a bit.  He interviews witnesses.  He hunts down the disciples and questions them.  And nothing makes sense with what he knows about the natural order of things.  People who should be afraid aren't.  People who should be mourning are joyful.  A person whose dead body Clavius saw taken off a cross (and Clavius, being a seasoned veteran, knows a dead body when he sees one) is alive.

(Source)

Yup, Clavius encounters Jesus, or Yeshua as they call him here, which was his Hebrew name.  And he starts to wonder.  You can see him struggle to wrap his head around how this could be.  He starts hanging out with the disciples, hungry to see Yeshua again.  Trying to make sense of all this.

At this point, the movie slows down a bit and switches from un-murder mystery to some serious character exploration.  If you were hoping for swords-and-sandals action, you might be disappointed.  If you wanted to see a serious exploration of what happens when an unbeliever is confronted with the truth about Jesus, you won't be disappointed at all.  Especially since Joseph Fiennes does such an amazing job of conveying this character's doubts, worries, fears, questions, and the beginning flickerings of faith, often wordlessly.  It's a beautiful performance.

(Source)

Tom Felton is also well cast as Clavius' underling, Lucius.  I'm so used to him playing Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, and that association worked well in this case because I kept expecting him to turn against Clavius, work against him, be all devious.

I have only two minor quibbles with this movie.  The first is not unexpected:  there's never any mention of WHY Jesus came to earth.  They do affirm that he is God incarnate, and that his resurrection means those who believe in him will have eternal life.  But there's no mention of mankind's sinfulness, no discussion of the forgiveness of sins.  I was a little disappointed, but considering that this is a movie and not a sermon, I can overlook it.  Would have been nice to have had that, but I'm okay with it not being there.

My other quibble is the way they portrayed Jesus' ascension.  Instead of him rising up into the air "until a cloud hid him from sight" like it says in Acts 1:9, he just disappeared in a big ball of light.  And angels didn't come and ask why they were standing around staring up into the sky.  So I guess they were going more for what it says in Mark 16:19, just that he was "taken up into heaven," and less about "ascending," but it did work okay.  Like I said, minor quibbles.

Is this movie family-friendly?  The first 5 minutes or so, where Clavius is putting down the insurrection, does have a good bit of violence.  Lots of slashing and stabbing, very little blood shown.  It's mostly implied violence.  There's also the breaking of the crucified thieves' legs and them yelling and shrieking and then dying -- it's not something for little kids.  I'd say thirteen and above, depending on the teen.  There's nothing really gory like in The Passion of the Christ (2004), but parts are a little intense.  Also, they talk about Mary Magdalene having been a woman of the street, and that lots of soldiers know who she is.  There's some drinking.  I won't take my kids to this, but I'll probably buy a copy on DVD and watch it with them when they're older.


This is my 6th movie watched and reviewed for the Period Drama Challenge.  There aren't a lot of pictures available online yet, but here are a few I've found that show some of the costumes and sets.  I was very impressed by this film's production values -- the costumes, props, sets, and scenery are fantastic!

Here's Pilate, with Clavius in the background:

(Source)

Caiaphas (Stephen Greif) and another member of the Sanhedrin (I assume):

(Source)

Clavius and some of the disciples:

(Source)
Clavius and Lucius in their armor:

(Source)

Their red capes were especially nice, but I can't find any good pictures of them.  This one shows Clavius' a little:

(Source)
You can find more photos here on the official website.

Bottom line?  I recommend this whole-heartedly.  Go see it in the theater, if you can.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

My Ten Favorite Movies Set in the 1940s


In honor of 1940s Week over at An Old-Fashioned Girl, I've put together a list of my 10 favorite movies that take place during the 1940s.  Because I'm fascinated by how WWII affected the military and civilians alike, and how it changed the world on so many levels, you'll notice that many of these directly involve the war.


1.  The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) (and more thoughts)

Three veterans (Dana Andrews, Frederic March, Harold Russell) find returning to civilian life and their families (Myrna Loy, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, Cathy O'Donnell) much harder than they'd expected. An amazingly frank look at post-war America.  Particularly noteworthy is the performance of Harold Russell, a real-life double amputee who served during WWII and will break your heart.  In a good way.

2.  The Great Escape (1963)

The Nazis put all their worst eggs (Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Charles Bronson, James Garner...) in one prison camp, and naturally all those escape artists work together to escape. I love this on so many levels, from the whole band-of-misfits-working-together angle to the clever planning to the actual escape itself. And it's based on a true story!

3.  Laura (1944)

While solving the murder of beautiful, talented Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney), Detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) falls in love with her memory. One of the most haunting murder mysteries with one of the biggest plot twists.

4.  Operation Pacific (1951)

Commander Duke Gifford (John Wayne) leads a submarine crew on a bunch of adventures (most of them based on actual WWII events) and tries to win back his ex-wife (Patricia Neal). My 8-year-old son asks to watch this at least once a month right now. This is a clean and lovely movie.

5.  Father Goose (1964)

A misanthropic drunk (Cary Grant) reluctantly becomes an island spotter during WWII and winds up caring for a group of young girls and their oh-so-proper chaperon (Leslie Caron). This is both sweet and salty, and I love it dearly.

6.  It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

George Bailey (James Stewart) decides he's worth more dead than alive, and it takes an unlikely angel (Henry Travers) all of Christmas Eve to convince him otherwise. There's a reason it's so famous -- it's really that good.

7.  Hell is for Heroes (1962)

One small American Infantry squad (Bobby Darin, Steve McQueen, Fess Parker, James Coburn, Bob Newhart...) holds off a Nazi attack thanks to lots of clever ruses and some spectacular sacrifices. This was written by Robert Pirosh, who also created my beloved Combat!, and this whole movie almost feels like a long episode of the show.

8.  State Fair (1945)

A family spends a week at the Iowa state fair, where the daughter (Jeanne Crain) falls in love with a newspaper man (Dana Andrews), the son falls in love with an entertainer, and the parents take home prizes for their mincemeat and hog. There's a 1960s remake that stars Bobby Darin in the Dana Andrews role, but aside from dearest Bobby, I feel that version lacks the charm of this one.

9.  The Monuments Men (2014)

A special American task force tries to rescue important art from the Nazis. Another great ensemble cast (Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, Bill Murray, John Goodman, George Clooney...), and another true story.

10.  To Have and Have Not (1944)

Fisherman Harry Morgan (Humphrey Bogart) gets tangled up with a wandering woman (Lauren Bacall) and a bunch of anti-Nazi French patriots during WWII. Loosely based on characters from the Ernest Hemingway novel by the same title, but I like it far better than the book.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Western Classics Giveaway


To celebrate finishing the Shane read-along, I'm giving away a brand-new copy of the movie, which stars Alan Ladd as Shane and Van Heflin as Joe Starrett.  And then I kind of got carried away at the used book store and found three more westerns that are somehow related to Shane and decided to give those away too.  So here are the prizes:

Shane (1953) -- pretty faithful adaptation of the book we just read, about a stranger who comes to a small Wyoming town and sides with the homesteaders against a pushy rancher.  You can read my review of it here.  (Once I pick a winner and get their mailing address, I will order a brand-new copy of this and have it shipped straight to the winner from Amazon.)


+ Silverado (1985) -- four men team up to rid a town of a pushy rancher who's trying to run everything and everybody.  A rousingly enjoyable western.  This one's rated PG-13, mostly for violence, but it does have some cussing and very brief innuendo.  You can read my review of it here.  (This is a USED copy -- it works in my DVD player, but of course, I can't guarantee it'll work in yours.)


3:10 to Yuma (1957) -- this one stars Van Heflin, who's also inShane, as a struggling rancher who takes on the job of ensuring a dangerous outlaw gets put on the train to the state prison in Yuma.  It's a fascinating character study as well as a beautiful western.  You can read my review of it here.  (This is a USED copy -- it works in my DVD player, but of course, I can't guarantee it'll work in yours.)


Whispering Smith (1948) -- this one stars Alan Ladd, who's also inShane, as a railroad detective who has to try to stop his erstwhile best friend from attacking and looting trains.  I only just saw this for the first time this week, but my goodness, I like it a lot!  It's a solid western, and Ladd is wonderful in it.  I haven't reviewed it yet, sorry.  (This is a USED copy -- it works in my DVD player, but of course, I can't guarantee it'll work in yours.)


Okay, so this runs through the end of Thursday, February 25th. I will draw four names on Friday, February 26th, and post the names of the winners that day, as well a notify them by email. 


Sadly, shipping rates went up last month, and I can only send these to US addresses.  If you live outside the USA and have a friend who lives here that is willing to have it shipped to them for you, that's fine, but I can't send them internationally.


PLEASE make sure your information for the giveaway widget includes your current email address so that if you win a prize, you'll get the email informing you that you won! If you don't reply to my email by Thursday, March 4th, I will choose another winner and award your prize to them instead.


The first way to enter, as you see, asks you to leave a comment telling me your top two prize choices.  If you DO NOT want to win any of these, please say so in your comment as well!  I'd rather not send you a movie you already have, or have seen and decided you don't want to own it, or have no interest in.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can enter either here or on The Edge of the Precipice -- both work!  Because these are movies and this is my movie blog, I figured I should post it both places :-)  

"Shane" (1953)

I've been leading a read-along of Shane by Jack Schaefer over on The Edge of the Precipice.  We've finished it today, so now I'm going to review the movie version.  I'm not going to compare it to the book, but if you want to discuss differences in the comments here, that's fine with me :-)

I'll warn you of something right up front:  this is gonna be a gushy post.  I love this movie more every time I watch it.  "A stranger comes to town and everything changes" is probably my single favorite western motif, and this film epitomizes it.  "Rich man tries to control town, and someone stands up to him" is another favorite, and that's here too.  In fact, this is going to be more of an exploration, a mulling-over of the movie rather than a simple, straight-up review.  It'll be a bit spoily, too, I'm afraid.  I'll try to let you know where to skip things so you don't know the whole ending.

Also, I'm giving away a copy of this movie!  You can enter via this post here, or this one on my book review blog.  I'm also giving away three other wonderful westerns -- check out either of those posts for details.

Shane is one of those movies that makes me both sad and happy.  Sad because I can't climb inside it and live in the world it depicts, but happy because at least I can watch the movie and imagine myself inside it.  And the character of Shane makes me sad and happy too -- sad because he's so lonely, and happy because at least for a little while, he found some peace and joy.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Shane begins with a lone man (Alan Ladd) riding down out of the mountains in Wyoming.  He stops at the homestead of Joe and Marian Starrett (Van Heflin and Jean Arthur), where he makes polite conversation with them and their son, Joey (Brandon De Wilde).  The stranger is soft-spoken, with a shy and gentle smile.  He says they can call him Shane.  His buckskin clothes and battered hat are the color of dust and earth, unassuming, easy to ignore.


By stark contrast, he wears a sleek pistol strapped to his side with a fancy black gunbelt decorated with gaudy silver buckles.  For the most part, he's slow-moving, weary and calm.  The only time he moves quickly is when Joey, who's playing he's a mighty hunter, cocks his little rifle.  Then Shane spins like a tornado, gun out of his holster and in his hand, crouched down and ready for trouble.  The Starretts all stare at him, and he shamefacedly holsters his pistol, not explaining why he's so jumpy.

Joe Starrett offers him a drink of water, and they exchange some pleasantries.  The two men seem to like each other immediately, both sensing they've found another straight arrow in a world full of crooked ones, I suppose.


But then, across the river, a whole lot of riders approach, and Starrett turns on Shane.  He accuses him of being one of Ryker's men and orders him off the property.  Shane insists he has no idea who Ryker is, but mounts up and rides away morosely.

Rufus Ryker (Emile Meyer) and his brother Morgan own a big ranch across the river.  They ride boldly up to the Starrett house, deliberately trampling on Marian's vegetable garden the way they intend to trample on the Starretts' future.  Ryker tells them they have to leave because he's gotten a big beef contract and will need all the range.  Joe Starrett refuses.  Ryker is on the verge of ordering his men to destroy more than some vegetables when Shane sidles up along the side of the cabin and leans ever-so-casually against it, right where Joe Starrett can't see him, but Ryker can.


The Starretts are completely shocked to see him there, but they don't let on.  Intimidated by Shane's menacing presence, Ryker leaves, muttering threats and trampling the garden again.  Shane watches them go, never moving, never taking his eyes off them until they're gone.


Joe realizes now what a fool he's been, thinking Shane was one of Ryker's hired men.  He apologizes, invites Shane to supper, and holds out his hand.  Shane hesitates -- he's both touched that Joe has behaved so squarely and is now offering him the hand of friendship, but also cautious about what could happen if he dares to make even tentative friends here.  But he shakes Joe's hand, and that's that.


(By the way, that's one of the few shots where you see them standing anything like on a level and near each other.  Van Heflin was a good 6 inches taller than Alan Ladd, and they try not to show that off much.)

The family has supper together, and Joe tells Shane all about his ideas for his farm, the troubles with Ryker, and generally lays his hopes and dreams on the table.  Shane listens intently, truly interested, and also gobbles up every bite of food Marian puts near him.  He's as hungry for companionship, for friendship, as for food.


After supper, Shane graciously thanks Marian for what he calls an elegant meal, then walks out the door.  But he doesn't leave.  Oh no, he attacks the tree stump Joe'd been working on when Shane first arrived.  Joe hustles out to join him, and the two spend the rest of the day working together to get rid of that stump.  They settle into a smooth, business-like rhythm, two determined, somewhat solitary men figuring out how to work as a team after spending so long struggling on their own.


Before I go any farther, I should mention that they shot this on location in and around Jackson Hole, Wyoming, so all that amazing scenery is real, not matte paintings.  Isn't it glorious?

Finally, that evening, they reach a point where they've chopped all they can chop, and decide to push it down.  Marian and Joey have been watching while fixing up the garden, but now they leave the plants to watch.  Joe and Shane push and heave, pause for rest, then push some more.  Marian suggests they hitch up the team and have the horses pull out the stump, but Joe refuses.  It's got to be manpower, or they could never say they'd truly bested that tree stump.


And this shot is only here because it's such a nice shirtless shot of Alan Ladd and I like it.  I must admit I'm kind of crushing on him right now, thanks to this movie and Whispering Smith (1948). 


Anyway, they conquer that stump, and Shane agrees to stay on as a hired hand, and everybody goes to bed happy.  Shane settles in to live on their farm, and for a few days, life is peaceful.  Well, except when he goes into town the next day to buy farm clothes and gets razzed by some of Ryker's men, especially Chris Calloway (Ben Johnson).  Joe's farmer friends think that his refusal to fight Calloway has marked all farmers as cowards, and they hold a big meeting at Starrett's to discuss what to do about how Ryker is trying to push them all off their claims.

At this meeting, we particularly encounter a farmer named Stonewall Torrey (Elisha Cook, Jr.), a Southerner who encounters a lot of mostly good-natured ribbing about his being a Reb from the other settlers, most of whom seem to have been on the Union side, or else are recent immigrants.


I've had a fondness for Elisha Cook, Jr. ever since I first saw him play Samuel T. Cogley, Attorney at Law in the Star Trek episode "Court Martial."  He's really sweet in this too, though I've seen him play baddies too (especially opposite Humphrey Bogart in both The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep).  His character here, Torrey, is a very sweet, somewhat downtrodden guy, loyal and determined, but not especially sensible.

The other farmers get pretty mad at Shane for giving Ryker's men something to jeer at them all about.  He looks at them all sadly for a moment, wisdom and sorrow and compassion in his eyes (Alan Ladd has very eloquent eyes, you see).


Rather than talk back about how it's way harder to get called a coward and a stinky pig farmer and walk out, instead of attacking, he just gets up and walks out here too, out into the rain.  He stops outside, right by the window to little Joey's room.  Marian's been reading Joey a bedtime story, and she sees Shane stop outside the window, so she opens it and speaks to him.


Gradually, we realize that Marian and Shane are having an Enchanted Moment.  Out loud, they're discussing the situation with Ryker, the rain, very mundane things.  But they're both exchanging Looks that show they're standing on the edge of some rather perilous emotions, both shocked and worried to discover themselves there.


The moment passes, and Shane goes to his bunk in one of the outbuildings.  The farmers decide that from now on, it's not safe for them to go to town alone, so they're all going to caravan there together every Saturday.  Safety in numbers and so on.

So next Saturday, all the homesteaders go to town (which is really just a cluster of about four buildings).  But Ryker and his men are there too, including Chris Calloway.


I'm actually very fond of Ben Johnson too, because he's played so many really nice characters.  I wrote him a fan letter once.  But he proves in this scene that he can play mean and nasty bullies really well too.


Of course, Shane knew full well what he was doing when he crossed from the general store side of the building into the saloon.  He knows there needs to be a fight, and he's ready for it.  And indeed, he and Chris have a long and glorious brawl.


When it becomes obvious that Shane, though older, smaller, and lighter, is handing Chris his butt on a tin plate, Ryker tries to bribe Shane into coming to work for him.  When that doesn't work, Ryker's other men gang up on Shane.  They're beating him very badly indeed when Joe Starrett marches in and starts evening the odds.  And then begins a positively joyous western brawl, the sort where every single chair gets smashed, bottles get thrown everywhere, and there's a lot of general mayhem.  But you can see Joe and Shane are thoroughly enjoying themselves once they can team up.  They dispatch those cowhands the way they dispatched that tree stump.


But unlike removing tree stumps, brawling takes a toll on our heroes.  Back at the cabin, Marian fusses over them both, bandaging them up.


Joe's fixed up first, and goes to bed, as does Joey, leaving Marian and Shane in the kitchen alone.  They come closer now to saying what's on their minds, that they admire each other a great deal, albeit rather against their own wills.


Marian gets called away by Joey, leaving Shane to ponder alone what's likely to happen next in this increasingly confusing situation.


When Marian's finished tucking Joey in, Shane is gone.  She runs to Joe's arms and begs him to hold her, clearly seeking reassurance of where her rightful place is.  This unwanted glimmering of romantic entanglements is fascinating to me -- a woman happily married, a man who is good friends with both the woman and her husband.  What must they be feeling?  How are they going to deal with it?

I'm not a huge fan of love triangles in general, because they've gotten used an awful lot in fiction and film of late.  But a love triangle like this feels very real, like it could invade and disrupt any real person's life.  I really admire how it's conveyed almost entirely with looks and behavior, not with words.  And that both Shane and Marian, while aware of their mutual attraction, never act on it.  Never even behave as if they're interested in acting on it.  It's amazing.


Back to the plot.  Another lone man arrives soon, riding down out of the blue like Shane did.


But he's a very different man from Shane.  Dressed all in black, mean-looking, and packing two guns very proudly.  He's played by Jack Palance, and he says Ryker is expecting him.  We all know no good can come of this.  (Also, are you appreciating how beautifully this movie is filmed?  There's some amazing composition in some of these shots -- I ended up taking more than 150 screencaps because there are so many wonderful images in this film.)


Next thing you know, it's the 4th of July, and all the farmers are going to get ready for a little celebration.  That morning, Joey finally works up the courage to ask Shane to teach him how to shoot.  Shane had put away his pistol when he agreed to work for Joe Starrett, a way to help himself put his past away too.  But now, flattered, he agrees to show Joey a few tricks of the trade.


You'll notice Joey has taken some pieces of metal and stuck them all over his own little gunbelt, in imitation of Shane's fancy rig.


Shane looks older in this scene, suddenly, and I don't think that's an accident.  Until now, he's worn his hair combed down over his forehead.  But here, it's swept back severely.  You can see that he's not a young man (Ladd was about 40 here).  Is he looking older because he's worried about what's going to happen to this little family he's befriended, and to their neighbors?  Or because this more peaceful life of farming is helping him accept himself for who he is inside, not for the image he projects?


Anyway, Joey asks him to show off some fancy shooting, and in a flash, Shane fires off six rounds at a little rock on the other side of the corral.  (From what I've read, director George Stevens wanted Alan Ladd to shoot that rock himself, with no camera tricks.  Ladd didn't think he could do it, or didn't want to do it.  They finally got the shot they use in the film after more than a hundred takes.  This amuses me greatly.)


Joey's reaction to Shane's prowess is so priceless, I have to include it.  (I know some people are very annoyed by Brandon De Wilde's acting.  I don't care about him one way or the other, but this shot just cracks me up.)


Marian had come up around the side of the barn just before Shane started firing, and you can see her suddenly reassess what kind of man he is.  I think she'd forgotten for a while what he probably had been, had done, before arriving in their little world.


She interrupts their lesson, and Shane acts oddly for a moment, too jocular, too loud.  He calls her Mrs. Starrett very ostentatiously, like a boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar.  Once Joey's gone, he settles back to his usual quiet, serious self, and goes back to calling her Marian.


Shane tells her he believes a gun is a tool like any other.  He says, "A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it."  Marian disagrees, saying she wishes there weren't any guns in the whole valley, including his.


After this little disagreement, off they all go to the 4th of July celebration.  Turns out it's Joe and Marian's wedding anniversary (which helps explain why she's wearing her wedding dress.  Man, I wish I still fit in my wedding dress).  Everyone stops the dance to commemorate the occasion, which is a surprise to Joe and Marian.


Then the dancing starts up again, and Shane gets a turn dancing with Marian because the other homesteaders "fence Joe out" to tease him because it's his wedding anniversary, or something.  Really, it's an excuse on the part of the filmmakers to let Shane and Marian dance.


Joe watches from the sidelines, grinning and jovial at first.


Neither Shane nor Marian are smiling, however.  They are very, very serious about this courtly, genteel dance.


And gradually, a new thought comes to Joe.  He sees.  He begins to understand.  He knows.


And what does he do?  Does he call Shane out for getting too close, physically and emotionally, to Marian?  Does he make a big fuss?  Does he say anything at all?  (If you don't want any spoilage, now would be a great time to skip way down to the bottom of the post.  Find the Period Drama Challenge logo and start reading again there.)

Nope, he doesn't do any of that.  Because Joe Starrett is an amazing man.  He trusts his wife, and he trusts Shane; he believes that they both love him the way he loves them both, so they would not hurt him, just like he would never hurt them.

When the Starretts and Shane return home from the party, they find a welcoming committee formed by Ryker and his pals, including that new gunfighter, Wilson.  Shane and Wilson size each other up, wordlessly and thoroughly.


Ryker leaves again, angry that Starrett has refused his "generous offer" to sell out and leave.  And somehow, this altercation has united Shane and the Starretts again, erasing the cracks that might have gotten bigger and bigger.


And then more plot stuff happens.  That evil gunfighter, Wilson, just keeps on being evil.


Little Stonewall Torrey calls him out and pays for his bravery with his life.


Another homesteader brings Torrey's body home, stopping at the Starrett's along the way.  Look at this shot!  Shane's trying to distance himself, feeling like an outsider again, looking on and observing and knowing that this is not exactly his problem, and yet... it is.  Oh, I tell you these filmmakers didn't miss a thing!


I've mentioned "the town" a few times.  You can barely call it that, though.  That's it in the middle distance here, just a cluster of buildings in the middle of nothingness.


The farmers bury Stonewall Torrey in the little graveyard overlooking town.  Down by the saloon, Ryker's man watch and laugh.  All except Chris Calloway.  He's starting to look downright disgusted with how things are going.  I think that meeting up with a truly brave man or two has started him thinking about his companions, his job, and what's going to happen.


After the funeral, the Starretts go home, where Ryker's brother tells them that Ryker expects Joe Starrett at the saloon that night to give him a final answer about Ryker's offer to buy him out.  They all know that really, Ryker and his hired hands, and his pet gunman Wilson, will be waiting to finish Joe off.  Shane acts like he's not involved, like he almost doesn't care, as Marian pleads with Joe, then with him, to somehow stop this from happening.


Eventually, he comes to a decision.  He gets up and leaves.  Shane goes back to his quarters in the barn, and there encounters a surprise.  Chris Calloway arrives to tell Shane that he's had enough and he's leaving Ryker.  He also warns Shane that Joe Starrett is walking into a trap if he goes to that saloon -- Ryker and his men are lying in wait, and intend to make his murder look all legal and proper.


Back in the house, Marian has run out of ways to reason with Joe.  He's set on going, and nothing she can say will dissuade him.  Finally, he sits down beside her and explains that he knows she and Shane have feelings for each other, though he doesn't say it quite so plainly.  He tells her he knows she'll be well cared for when he's gone -- cared for better than he could do himself.  And then my heart breaks into about seventeen pieces and I start to tear up because wow, could any of these people be any more wonderful?


That's when Shane returns.  He's dressed the way he was the first day they met him, with his gunbelt strapped to his waist.  And he's not going to let Joe walk into Ryker's trap.


But of course, Joe doesn't want Shane to go off to certain death any more than Shane wants Joe to do it.  So they have a big fist-fight, which is my least-favorite part of the movie.  It's shot frantically, noisily, in an almost ugly way.  Which works, because both men are frantic, desperate to stop each other from being killed.  And maybe a little bit slugging out the aggression they feel over who is married to Marian and who isn't.


In the end, Shane wins by trickery, and prepares to face his doom in town.  Marian needs to know one thing, though.


Is he doing this for her?



Yes, he is -- for her, for Joe, for little Joey.  For all of them.  He's heading off, nobly and honorably, to preserve this family he has grown to love and cherish.  And Marian understands.


Then, of course, it's just a matter of Shane taking on Wilson and the Ryker brothers.  And I AM GOING TO SPOIL THE ENDING!  So if you didn't stop reading earlier, but you don't want to know how everything turns out with that final gunfight, skip down to the Period Drama Challenge logo right now.


I'm serious.


(So is Shane.)


Okay, fine -- if you're like Joey and have to know how it all turns out (or if you've seen the movie already), then you can keep reading.


Wilson makes some smartypants remarks, and Shane says he's heard of him.  In fact, he's heard that Wilson is a no-good Yankee liar, which is what Torrey called him, and got killed for.  Wilson and Shane both go for their guns.

And I love this shot.  It's really hard screencapping fights, as you might imagine, because everyone's moving really fast.  But I managed to grab this one of Shane right after he fires.  Look at how mournful he is!  He doesn't want to be here, killing men.  Doesn't want to be a gunfighter again.  He'd found happiness and peace in this valley, or something close to it, and now he's having to turn his back on it so that Joe and Marian and Joey and their friends can have happiness and peace from now on, even though he can't.


Yes, he wins the gunfight.  Gets minorly wounded in the process, but he clearly will be fine.  And then he walks out of the saloon and gets on his horse, ready to leave a better world behind him than the one he'd found.


But he can't leave just yet.  Because little hero-worshipping Joey is there, needing to know why Shane won't come home with him.


And Shane smiles that same soft, shy smile he favored Joey with when they first met.  (Also, by this point, I've given up trying not to cry.)


"Man has to be what he is, Joey.  Can't break the mold."


Joey, crying like me over the unfairness of the world, refuses to accept that.  And Shane understands, but he leaves anyway.  There's no place for him in that town anymore.  Everyone would look at him like he was a dirty killer like Wilson.  They'd fear him, forgetting why he'd killed, that it was to save all of them.


And so Shane rides away, back into the distance from whence he came.  Joey calls and calls for him to come back, but of course, he doesn't.


As bitterly hard as it must have been for him, Shane keeps right on riding and never looks back.


Pardon me while I blow my nose.


Safe to read now again, if you were avoiding spoilers!  This is my fifth movie watched and reviewed for the Period Drama Challenge!  Go here for more info on the challenge, and to join up if you've a mind to.

I've shown off a lot of the costumes throughout this post, so I'm not going to add any more pictures here about them.  But I will mention if this movie is family friendly.  IT IS.  There's some western violence, as I've detailed -- a couple of brawls and some gunplay.  No bad language, no taking God's name in vain (Joe Starrett does say "by Godfrey" once), no objectionable scenes.  Joe and Marian do kiss a couple times.  And as I've discussed, although Marian and Shane are attracted to each other, neither of them ever do anything that could in any way be construed as breaking her wedding vows.  They are tempted, but never succumb.  It's amazing and beautiful and... just go watch this movie, okay?  I don't care if you don't like westerns!  I don't care if you don't like old movies!  I don't even care if you don't like Brandon De Wilde!  This movie is so much more than any of those ideas.