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Shane

Should Shane be on the AFI top 100?  

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  1. 1. Should Shane be on the AFI top 100?

    • Come back, Shane!
      1
    • Go away, Shane!
      5

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  • Poll closed on 06/19/20 at 07:00 AM

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Paul & Amy mosey into 1953's archetypal western Shane! They learn about star Alan Ladd's often tragic life, examine how director George Stevens made gun violence feel heightened, and play a referential clip from the X-Men film Logan. Plus: Digging into your thoughts and theories on Blade Runner.   For Modern Times week, what silent film do you think needs to be on the AFI list? Call the Unspooled voicemail line at 747-666-5824 with your answer. Follow us on Twitter @Unspooled, get more info at unspooledpod.com and don’t forget to rate, review & subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts. Also check out our live Spool Party episodes on youtube.com/earwolf! Photo credit: Kim Troxall

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I watched this scene like 5 times in a row, because the way the guy's hat flies off made me laugh really hard.

 

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17 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

I watched this scene like 5 times in a row, because the way the guy's hat flies off made me laugh really hard.

 

I was leaning to vote no but you might convince me to keep this on the list. 

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I had never seen this movie before. I found it to be fine, but I don't understand why it's great enough to be in the Top 100. I wonder if growing up during the heyday of the clean, sanitized Western (the 40s and 50s) meant that any movie that even slightly tweaked the formula, like Shane or The Searchers, felt like a revelation. For me, having grown up entirely in a post-Wild Bunch world, pretty much every Western is dirty and morally compromised now. It's not unusual anymore for such stories to be presented that way, and to me Unforgiven seems like a more complete treatment of the same themes Shane addresses, leaving the older film looking a bit redundant on the list. I also agree with Paul's take that technically this film is not nearly as accomplished as John Ford's work was, so if we want an example of a more classical Western we should go with one of his.

Glad I saw the movie, but it's a no. Also, yes, that kid is annoying as hell.

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I definitely understand why this movie has a great reputation. I liked it quite a bit the time I saw it but I understand the criticisms from a technical look at it. I didn't realize this was meant to be a cheap B movie and, had it gotten a decent budget, I'd probably push for it on the list.

But with its ideas being examined better in other movies that are better filmed in the same genre, I'm good leaving it off.

I'd keep this on to leave off Stage Coach if I had to. I never got the appreciation for that other than being earlier than a lot of similar movies. 

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I thought Paul & Amy had a fascinating discussion about some of the complexities that are buried in Shane. But I also felt like, they were digging hard for them. Is this really truly a deconstruction of Western mythology and violence? I'm not so sure it gets there, to be honest. I have a hard time seeing it being that much of a statement. It's not far from it, though. Maybe with some more focus, better writing, better direction, it could have got there easily enough.

Like for example... with the wife. I didn't need some explicit romance/cuckolding, but they could've really tied the emotions up better to it give it more feeling (like maybe they kiss once or had a past or something). Instead it's just... bland. 

It's interesting -- I never mention or really think about the technical side of these films, but I HAD to mention it here in my Letterboxd review. So I was amused when Paul & Amy made that hard pivot to break it down too. Some of it is glaringly amateur. And for me, that itself keeps it off this "top 100 movies ever" list. I mean, it's silly, but look again at that guy's hat flying off in the video I posted above. Why? Why be so silly? Why do it that way? 

I guess, I really WANT this to be the film Paul & Amy discussed, but I'm not sure it is. 

 

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Taxi Driver is much more of a riff on The Searchers than Shane. The Searchers paired the hateful racist Ethan (who claims he will kill Debbie when he finds her) with the more sympathetic good guy Martin. Star Wars lightens it by making Han Solo/Ethan merely a smuggler with mercenary motivations (though he still has a change of heart at the end) and putting more emphasis on Luke/Martin (who turns out to be kin to the girl they're rescuing in a later movie). Both Shane and The Searchers end with the man of violence leaving because he doesn't belong in the more peaceful world the homesteaders are building. The difference is that Shane actually did try to live a peaceful life for a while, whereas that was never really in the cards for Ethan (who went from fighting for the Confederacy to the similarly failed Emperor Maximilian). Travis Bickle isn't thrust into violence by an attack from bad men, instead he thrusts himself into it due to dissatisfaction with his own life. At the end he isn't haunted by the "brand" of what he's done (he's on good terms with his mistakenly heroic reputation, if modest about it). His lingering problem is the flaw in his character which means he could still explode at any time.

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I have always heard Shane analyzed as the quintessential example of American ethos, and of American masculinity in particular. I don't think it deconstructs or analyzes the genre to the extent that Paul and Amy talk about, but it was a really good discussion and helped me think of the movie differently than I had before. 

This rewatch was a struggle. I couldn't do it in one sitting, which I usually force myself to do. It's more of a feature of the editing style and aesthetic of the time, as the shots felt longer or unneeded.

Also, my criticism from the first time I watched it-- the CONSTANT repetition of his name, "Shane." Sometimes literally every sentence in a row. LIke, "Hi, Shane?" "What do you want for breakfast, Shane?" "Shane, sure is fine weather, eh Shane?"

That being said, after a deep dive into Queer Theory a while back, any time I see a film that features outsiders and "found families," I think of this lens. I'm not saying that Shane (nor any other character) is queer, it's just that this lens gives a framework to see what resonates. Here is a man struggling with what he feels is his nature, trying to distance himself from others while also trying to fit into a traditional family unit, and the tragedy but also redemptive realization that he cannot deny it, that "a man has to be what he is." In fact, all the homesteaders are meant to be "outsiders" in some way-- which is how I think Terry the Confederate was supposed to also exemplfiy. The other homesteaders are immigrants, women, etc. Shane is the Ultimate Outsider and has to sacrifice his found family in order to let the family survive overall. 

"Isn't that right, Shane? Your name is Shane, isn't it? Shane?"     

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I should be getting a chance to watch Shane this weekend, so I can't weigh-in too much on it specifically, but I guess I'll continue to beat the drum that Altman's McCabe & Mrs Miller is the movie I consider to be the best anti-western I've seen.

On the topic of how anti-western Shane is and how much of it is based on how tried and true the formula was, IDK. Maybe. But The Oxbow Incident came out a decade before (though I don't know how well known that one is).  On the other hand, I'm sure there are morally complex superhero movies that have been made, people did seem to lose it for Logan and (having not seen it), the director did say he was basically trying to remake Shane as a superhero movie. That might be our best reference point for evaluating how Shane was perceived. 

There's also the other possibility is there's anti-westerns for people who aren't particularly big on the genre and then there's anti-westerns for those who like the general formula of westerns - in the sense the latter is still mostly an entry in the formulaic genre, but introduces some type of complexity (e.g. questioning the impact or basic premises of the genre at points) elevating it (having not seen Logan or Black Panther, it is the thing I wonder about them and their reception). Just a thought that crossed my mind during this discussion. I think I brought up similar points when they did The Searchers as well.

I did finally catch up with A Place in the Sun a few months ago though, and it is indeed great.

 

 

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