Shane, Blu-ray (1953/2013)Cast: Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin, Brandon De Wilde, Jack Palance, Ben Johnson Director: George Stevens Studio: Warners/Paramount [8/13/13] Video: 1:37 for 4:3 1080p HD color Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio; DD in English, French and Spanish. English, French and Spanish subtitles Length: 118 minutes Rating: ****
The classic western Shane has had a rough life on home video. Almost all the tape and DVD releases were not released in the proper aspect ratio. The film was shot at 1.37:1, pretty close to the aspect ratio of standard NTSC TV. At the time of its 1953 release, Cinemascope was getting very popular, and over the objections of Director George Stevens the film was cropped to appear to be wider. It pretty much destroyed the carefully planned compositions, cutting off mountain tops and heads.
Finally, Shane has arrived on Blu-ray, with the original aspect ratio restored. The film stars Alan Ladd, Jack Palance and Brandon De Wilde (“Come back Shane”) in a classic tale of farmers versus ranchers. Although styles (hair and acting) are a bit dated, the film still resonates today.
The film looks great, and it has had an extensive restoration. The Grand Teton backdrops are sharp, faces are detailed, and the costumes, carefully designed to be accurate to the time frame of the movie, show every thread.
The main soundtrack is lossless DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono, but it packs a punch, especially with the sound of gunshots. Director Stevens had been a combat photographer, and hated violence. He had hoped the presentation of realistic violence would be off-putting, but most audiences loved the action and the violence. Stevens paid special attention to the sounds of the gunshots, using a small cannon to fire into a garbage can with a microphone inside. Warren Beatty was so impressed he used the same technique to record the gunshots in Bonnie and Clyde.
This edition contains commentary ported over from the DVD release with George Stevens Jr. and associate producer Ivan Moffat. It adds a lot of detail to the genesis of the film, and the difficulties of producing so much of Shane on location.
Shane has been rightly called one of the greatest westerns of all times, and it finally gets the respect it deserves in this Blu-ray release. [It is No. 3 on the AFI’s list of the top westerns ever…Ed.]