Most of you have probably seen the 1953 movie, Shane. I recently read a review that declared that the movie was a ''psychological Western''. The review contained a great deal of psychological jargon to illustrate the reviewer's point. As for me, I simply thought the movie was a beautifully-made Western, and, like most good classic Westerns, is simply another tale from our chivalric heritage; Shane was the knight-errant.
The following line, in which Shane responds to a rather hysterical Marian Starrett, played by Jean Arthur, is his answer to her statement that she wishes all the guns would go away.
''A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel, or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it."
A simple and true statement, but one the anti-gun zealots will not accept.
The other movie I saw which I found very touching was a rather unpretentious little comedy from 1959, called It Happened to Jane.
Among the comments at IMDB were the following ones, which also reflect my own reactions to the movie:
Viewing this as a baby boomer today and remembering watching as a near teenager in 1960 or there about; I found this to be refreshingly warm, funny, and filled with some very beautiful scenery of America the beautiful. When I originally viewed this movie it was more of a good guy or girl versus a bad guy. Today on a cable movie network I watched it and was in awe of the beauty I missed as a young lad. Watch the movie for content, for Jack Lemon, Ernie Kovacks, or just because of Doris; but take a moment to observe the buildings, the towns, the scenery featured during the train ride, or just to see the townspeople in the parade at the end and maybe you will find yourself asking these same questions.
Where did the filming of this movie actually take place? Was the parade the actual city's population and band? Why did the movie industry abandon a wholesome Americana for such violent and explicit movies? It Happened to Jane; is a wonderful movie that should be a real life experience that happens to all of us. This today was more like a journey back to my childhood than just watching a movie. Perhaps if we as movie goers supported this venue of entertainment, then we might get back to being America the Beautiful as beautiful as she once was. Yes, she is still the best place in the world, but wouldn't it be grand to return to those happy glorious Doris Day(s) of yesteryear. R. John a fan of America the Beautiful.''
And another commenter:
This is a fun period movie. It's a great snap shot of rural New England in the late 1950's. I remember watching this movie when I was a young boy growing up in the Hartford area of Connecticut. Thought the story is about the fictitious town, Cape Anne, Maine, the story was actually filmed in Connecticut. I remember everyone being excited about the movie because they had filmed scenes at the Hartford Railroad Station, one being where George kisses Jane. Back then we all had traveled someplace from the Hartford Station. The movie's vivid color gives us great views of the landscape, the old New England houses, stores, churches, and court house. The "Town Meeting" as it was, and still is, in some ways still in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The various types of cars of the time, and of course the different trains. It's a great story of the little guy (gal in this case) against the big corporation. Doris Day and Jack Lemmmon are at their best as well as the supporting cast. This is a movie the whole family can sit down to and have a great time, especially if you are from New England.''
I had to check IMDB to see where it was filmed, and it was in fact filmed in Connecticut and Maine. And though I am not familiar with those areas despite my New England roots on my mother's side, I recognized the look and feel of late-1950s American small town life. I suppose only those who lived during those days can have a perception of what it was like, but if you weren't around then, or were too young to remember it, I recommend this movie as giving a feel for the white-picket-fence America of those days. I particularly liked the scenes of the town hall meetings. The old New England town hall meetings were a quintessential example of direct democracy in action. As much as I am critical of 'democracy', these old-fashioned town meetings worked on that kind of small, local scale; they do not work outside that setting. For 'democracy' to work properly, you need a small, cohesive community with a homogeneity and familiarity that cannot be found in a larger community. As a community grows larger, anonymity begins to reign, and where people come and go like nomads, they lack roots in, and commitment to, the communities they inhabit.
The movie does have a rather cartoonish villain who is very much in the 'evil capitalist' mold. I have no problem with this; capitalism per se is not evil, but like guns, it is a tool, as good or as bad as the man using it. Lately we are certainly seeing that capitalism without scruples or principles can be very bad indeed. But the populism of the movie is of a more benign kind.
In the movie, the central character, Jane Osgood, is said to be the fourth-generation descendant of one of the town's founders. That deep-rootedness in the community is what promotes a concern for the general well-being of the community. Probably most of the other townspeople are kin to the Osgoods in some degree, and they certainly all know each other. Communities like this are probably much rarer in the 21st century but they are by no means extinct.
Maybe the fact that I am in real life an Osgood descendant, of the actual New England Osgoods, (though obviously the movie's Osgoods are fictional) gave me a sort of amused feeling of connection to the characters.
I don't ask much from a movie; I don't look for slam-bang action or dazzling special effects or hip actors in the lead roles or 'edginess' or glamor, and I can do without the sex and violence that seem obligatory in all movies today. I don't even ask for movies with ideological axes to grind or heavy-handed political points; I do like a movie that can evoke a time and a place and a feeling, especially when the associations therewith are nostalgic and full of personal meaning for me. And if a movie can serve to illustrate certain things for people who were not around when the old America was still with us, then it is an educational tool and I hope a way of introducing the younger people to the America that has been all but destroyed.