Shane Movie Poster Image

Shane

(i)

 

"Come back, Shane!" Classic Western for the ages.
  • Review Date: June 6, 2007
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Western
  • Release Year: 1953
  • Running Time: 118 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Most characters take principled stands, putting their lives on the line for what they believe is right. But their hidden motivations result in violence. Shane tries to put his deadly past behind him, but gets dragged back into killing. He resists temptations to join the bad guys and have an affair. A supporting character is depicted (warmly) as a Confederate. Indians and other people of color are invisible.

Violence

Fistfights and shootings, many of the bullets turning out to be fatal. Director Stevens, a WWII veteran, was determined to keep the gunplay realistic -- not gory, but not harmless and cartoony either.

Sex

Only the modest indication that Mrs. Starrett is attracted to Shane.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

Based on a popular (and equally fine) novel.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Whisky galore in a cowboy saloon, with Shane significantly humiliated, abused, and told he's not a "man" when he orders non-alcoholic stuff. Other characters get notably drunk.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a serious-minded Western, not one of the charming but silly singing-cowboy fantasies that stampeded by the hundreds out of old Hollywood. Death is a serious thing here, and gunplay is realistic, not cartoonish or gratuitous. There's also a sense of the harshness of frontier life. The possibility of an adulterous love triangle is present but tastefully handled. Some viewers may be more troubled by the hints of Hollywood's longstanding Gone With the Wind sentimental representation of the Confederate South (the movie takes place shortly after the Civil War), or the equating of drinking whiskey with being a "real man."

What's the story?

Shortly after the Civil War, a traveler named Shane (Alan Ladd) lingers with a family of Wyoming homesteaders, the Starretts, who are in the thick of a land feud between settlers and cattle ranch boss Ryker (Emile Meyer) and his posse. Shane is never fully accepted by the suspicious settlers. Still, he stays with the Starretts, partially because of friendship with their little boy Joey (Brandon de Wilde) who idolizes him. There's also a developing love triangle with gun-loathing Mrs. Starrett (Jean Arthur) and a rivalry with her husband Joe Starrett (Van Helfin). Shane is obviously a veteran gunfighter and, to the farmers, no better than the thugs on Ryker's payroll, even as he (reluctantly) straps on his six-guns to defend against the villains. You'd think the settlers would be grateful, but (except for Joey) they aren't. Ryker eventually tries to negotiate a peace with Starrett, and the range boss has got a surprisingly strong argument that suddenly makes the farmers seem slightly less like poor victims and more stubborn and selfish.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Even though Westerns in general are nowhere near as popular and plentiful as they were in times past, this classic is a must-see. Shane is based on a novel that's widely assigned in schools. This is a morally complex Western (not just white hats and black hats) that can play well for both the action fans and families seeking serious drama.

Shane functions on multiple levels for young viewers and parents, addressing questions of youthful idol-worship, adult redemption, the uses of violence, forbidden attraction, and people forced to live out unpopular roles against their wills.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the characters seem unable to escape their social roles. Though it's not spelled out in detail, Shane is a veteran gunfighter trying to put his violent past behind him, but he winds up pulled back into killing, even if he is supposedly defending innocent people. Even the villains seem to be offering a last-minute compromise solution, which is declined. Did the conflict have to turn out the way it did? What do you think would have happened if Shane stayed with the Starretts?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 23, 1953
DVD release date:August 15, 2000
Cast:Alan Ladd, Brandon de Wilde, Emile Meyer, Jack Palance, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin
Director:George Stevens
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Genre:Western
Run time:118 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Shane was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 14 years old Written byKaty0 September 17, 2009

Classic

"Shane" is only tainted slightly by the overly pointed direction.
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 16 years old Written bywho3697cares June 20, 2010
As much as I like classic westerns, this one has been unbearable to sit through, but that is just me. Others may like it, and they have good reasons.
Kid, 7 years old January 16, 2011

The best movie ever

This is my FAVORITE movie even my name is Shane!!! I just cant stop seeing it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! the #1 movie for a kid who likes old film and thats ME

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?