As a precursor to our film project, 12 Western Feature-Length Films in 12 Months, which Running Wild Films and 5J Media will start producing in 2016, director Travis Mills shares his thoughts on films from the genre as he studies Westerns in preparation for our own. Follow the project here on Facebook

This series of short blogs is titled “Western Impressions”.

Shane (1953)


I had seen Shane as a kid and it’s ironic that now the story, which is really a boy’s tale, means much more to me than it did then. Probably because although De Wilde’s performance stunned me more than ever, the character of Shane is now someone I know. He fits into the mold of great western males I like most: hopelessly in love with a woman they can’t be with, resistant to the violence around them and within themselves, determined to sacrifice their lives over others, and unable to finally be anything but themselves (stuck as it seems to carry out their place in life as loners). It’s Ethan Edwards from The Searchers, it’s Tommy Lee Jones from Good Old Boys, Viggo from Appaloosa, etc. Beyond this attachment I feel with Shane, the film itself features some of the best scenes of the genre: the fist fight in the bar between Ladd/Heflin and the bad men, Elisha Cook Jr.’s death (which is as dark as anything in Eastwood’s Unforgiven, about 40 years earlier), the part where Ladd goes to stand out in the rain and Jean Arthur talks with him through the window, and of course the iconic ending.

Lasting impression: George Stevens may not have directed many films like this but he certainly made one of the most memorable westerns with Shane.