Alan Ladd’s reluctant gunslinger hero is a man of few words, but then, so much of Shane is about things that must go unsaid. After all, the title character’s arrival at the Starrett farm threatens to displace paterfamilias Joe (Van Heflin), both as the father figure most admired by little Joey Starrett (Brandon de Wilde) and in the affections of Joe’s wife, Marian (Jean Arthur).
Shane and Marian are both too decent to act on their mutual attraction or even acknowledge it in words, but Joe seems to recognize that something is up when, with Shane as their dinner guest, Marian serves up the most delectable-looking apple pie in movie history, on the good china, with extra dessert forks. Soon, the pie-fueled Shane and Joe are trying to out-macho each other by chopping away at an old tree stump Joe has been unable to uproot by himself. The two men dig into it the way they dug into the pie, politely but ravenously, while a flushed Marian looks on.
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