Video Clips Worth Watching: Shane v. Jack Wilson

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.

Shane, 1953

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.

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  1. I’ll have to see this film. I’m sure I saw it as a youngster. Age changes us.
    My favorite western is “The Searchers.” I’m not sure the Ford/Wayne cavalry movies fit this genre, but are also favorites. The main attractions, for me, of these movies include the scenery, horsemanship, subplots, characters.
    Someday, I’m abruptly going to jump in the car (I’m way to old for a motorcycle, younger brother tried it last Summer) and head west to give praise to God at His western USA creations.

  2. T. Shaw.

    Praising God in his western USA creations.
    If you have the time, please travel north to Braniff and Jasper in British Columbia.
    The Artist par excellence did a marvelous job up there as well.

    BTW. 1969 True Grit starring John Wayne is one of my favorite Westerns. The Coen brothers rendition in 2010 wasn’t bad. Mattie had more substance in the later version.

  3. Everybody must still be recovering from the excess of tryptophan. Let’s see if we can’t liven the place up a bit, shall we?

    If the greatest western evah isn’t Johnny Guitar, then it must almost certainly be Hawmps!.

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