Shane: Yeah, you’ve lived too long. Your kind of days are over.
Ryker: My days! What about yours, gunfighter?
Shane: The difference is I know it.
Ryker: All right. So we’ll all turn in our six-guns to the bartender. We’ll all start hoeing spuds. Is that it?
Shane: Not quite yet. [to Wilson] We haven’t heard from your friend here.
Wilson: I wouldn’t push too far if I were you. Our fight ain’t with you.
Shane: It ain’t with me, Wilson?
Wilson: No it ain’t, Shane.
Ryker: I wouldn’t pull on Wilson, Shane. [to Will Atkey} Will, you’re a witness to this.
Shane: So you’re Jack Wilson.
Wilson: What’s that mean to you, Shane?
Shane: I’ve heard about you.
Wilson: And what’ve you heard, Shane?
Shane: I’ve heard that you’re a low-down Yankee liar.
Perhaps the greatest Western ever made, Shane is a snapshot of the West as the old West of cattle barons and gunfighters is coming to an end. Alan Ladd as the gunfighter Shane realizes his day is done, even as he comes to understand that his attempt to change his life is futile, just as his adversary, cattle baron Rufus Ryker, does not:
Right? You in the right! Look, Starrett. When I come to this country, you weren’t much older than your boy there. We had rough times, me and other men that are mostly dead now. I got a bad shoulder yet from a Cheyenne arrowhead. We made this country. Found it and we made it. We worked with blood and empty bellies. The cattle we brought in were hazed off by Indians and rustlers. They don’t bother you much anymore because we handled ’em. We made a safe range out of this. Some of us died doin’ it but we made it. And then people move in who’ve never had to rawhide it through the old days. They fence off my range, and fence me off from water. Some of ’em like you plow ditches, take out irrigation water. And so the creek runs dry sometimes and I’ve got to move my stock because of it. And you say we have no right to the range. The men that did the work and ran the risks have no rights? I take you for a fair man, Starrett.
Clashes of right and wrong are morally simple, while clashes of competing rights are more morally complex and Shane does a good job showing this, just as it illustrates that we can do a lot with time in this Vale of Tears, but we can’t freeze it.
Jack Palance as hired killer Jack Wilson had his breakthrough role in this film which was populated with flawless performances, many of the actors and actresses involved giving the best work of their careers to this masterpiece. If you haven’t seen this film, please remedy this omission as soon as possible.