Wagons West Chronicles October Issue 2016 October Issue - Page 11

Wagons West Chronicles October 2016 11 : Remembering Shane’s Ultimate Badman By Michael F. Blake Editor’s Note: Michael Blake is the author of “Code of Honor” about the making of three great American westerns, High Noon, Shane and The Searchers. The villain is probably the most important role in a motion picture. Casting a good actor in the role of the lead villain is equally important. A good actor can create a memorable performance that will live on for many generations after the film was originally released. One such villain was the character of Jack Wilson in Shane (1953), played with great menace by Jack Palance. In the original script of Shane, he’s called “Slick Wilson,” and described as “a thin man, dressed in striped trousers and other garb that appears too elegant for cowboy work. His face has the sharp alertness of a fox. Beneath his pushedback hat we see that he has lost half his right ear. The butt of a revolver projects prominently from a holster at the right side.” When the script first introduces Wilson he is not riding into town, but merely sitting at a table in the saloon watching a conversation between Grafton and Ryker. As written, the scene lacks the dramatic impact of the hired gun arriving in town. In the film, Ryker sends one of his men into Cheyenne to hire the gunman. The scene dissolves to a wide shot of a lone rider in black hat and boots, slowly riding up to Grafton’s. Upon entering, Wilson leans against the bar and asks for Ryker. Director George Stevens shoots his entry from a medium low- angle, suggesting the character’s dominance, and uses this theme again (Wilson being the dominant figure) in the confrontation between the gunslinger and Torrey. The dog, who is ever-present in the saloon, gets up and walks out of the saloon, implying the animal even senses the danger associated with Wilson. (Stevens will use the same action with the dog again in the climax.) This sequence gives a heightened impact to Wilson’s character, rather than his simply sitting at a table. Interestingly, Stevens originally had planned to have Palance gallop up to the saloon, but the actor “bounced like a bag of potatoes in the saddle.” Stevens then suggested he just trot in on the horse, but the visual wasn’t much better. Finally, he settled on Palance slowly walking his horse to the bar. In choosing to let the actor walk his horse in, Stevens has created a greater sense of fear and menace with the Wilson character. One of the most memorable scenes in the film happens when Wilson goads Torrey into a fight. Arriving at the harness makers, Torrey and Shipstead dismount. Wilson has come out of the saloon and walks to the corner of the boardwalk, calling Torrey over. Shipstead tells Torrey to ignore him, but the Southerner cannot *Chronicle of the Old West will be at these events. Stop by and say hi! resist the challenge, even though he knows he should ignore the taunt. Wilson remains on the plank walk while Torrey stands in the muddy street. This allows Wilson to play a mental game with the homesteader by appearing as the dominant force. He slowly goads Torrey by forcing him to walk in the mud, hindering his ability to gain access to the plank walk. Wilson asks if Torrey was named after Stonewall Jackson, calling both Torrey and ѡ Ʌєɼ+qMѡɸɅ͠t́́ѡ̰)ѡݼɔ݅ɅѼ)ѡȰQɕ䁥ѡՐ)]ͽѡ݅]ͽ)ͱݱͱ́ٔ́ɥ)쁄ɔѡЁݔѼͽєݥѠ]ͽݡ́)ѕȁѡѡɔ)ɕ́ѡՑѡЁ]ͽ)ѥɕѼɅ܁́չ̸Q)ՅɔɽЁѡ)ͅQɕ䰁Ѽѡ)ɕа́]ͽqݑݸeȻt]ͽٕ́ݡȰɕ́ѡѼ)ɽٔиQݼɅܸQɕ)ݥѠ́ոѕх́ѡ)ɕЁȁݡЁ͕́ѥ)]ͽ́ոQ)͍́ͽѕͥЁչѥݔ)ȁѡɽȁ]ͽe)ѽݡ͕́QɕɅݱ)݅ɐѼѡՐ)]ЁѼѡ)Qɕ䰁ɝMѕٕ()݅ѕѡɕЁѼՑ)!ݕٕȰݡѡ)ɥٕMɑѼѡ)͍ѡɕЁ݅́ЁՑ)՝ѼեЁѡɕѽȸ) ͕Օѱ䰁ѡɕȁѡ)݅́Ё݅ѕɥݸѡ)ɕЁѡ͕Օ݅́)չѥѡݥ丁 )Mչѡ݅́ɕѕ)ݥѠɬՑ쁉͔ѡݕɔ)ͥQȁݡٕЁɔ)́Ѽɕѕȁɽɱ䰁ѡݥ͑͡ѥѡ)Ёє)ɑѼͽєɽՍ)%م5аMѕٕ́Ѽ)ݥѠѡՑ̰ѡЁѡɭ́ݽձqͥ锁ѡ́ѡ͍t)́Qɕ䁥́͡а́䁥)ɍѡЁѡձиQٔѡ́аݥɔ݅)ѡ͡ ))Ȼḛٕаݼɥ́兹)݅ɐݡɔ)ѡЁٕ݅́ɕݥѠՐQ)ѡ́́ݸ́qɅЁt)չЁٕɉչѵȁ)ѡ͔́ѡѽȰ́ɝɹ́ݥѠхѡ)Q́хݡ)ѡɽ՝ѡ)݅ɑɽ́хѼѡȁ)ѡЁ͕́ɕѼݥɔQݥɔ)ոѡɽ՝ȁݼձ́ѡ)ɔ͕ɕѼѡȁѡȁȁ) ѥՕ((