Alan Ladd’s son, “junior,” went to Lankershim Elementary school with me in North Hollywood. One day we both were gawking at a beehive in a tree growing beside the bicycle racks. Alan Jr. lucked out, I didn’t. A bee flew into my mouth, and when I blew out it stung my lip. Yeah, it ballooned and I had a liquid diet for days.
Alan Walbridge Ladd (b. September 3, 1913, d. January 29, 1964) acted in 85 films. His last film in 1964, was The Carpetbaggers as Nevada Smith. Although the film is fiction, elements of the setting are derived from Wyoming’s Johnson County War (1892). The physical setting is the high plains near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and many shots feature the Grand Teton massif looming in the near distance. Other filming took place at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, California.
Director George Stevens originally cast Montgomery Clift as Shane, William Holden as Joe Starrett; when they both proved unavailable, the film was nearly abandoned. Stevens asked studio head Y. Frank Freeman for a list of available actors with current contracts. Within three minutes, he chose Alan Ladd, Van Heflin and Jean Arthur, though Arthur was not the first choice to play Marian; Katharine Hepburn was originally considered for the role. Even though she had not made a picture in five years, Arthur accepted the part at the request of George Stevens with whom she had worked in two earlier films, The Talk of the Town (1942) and The More the Merrier (1943) for which she received her only Oscar nomination. Shane marked her last film appearance (when the film was shot she was 50 years old, significantly older than her two male co-stars), although she later appeared in theater and a short-lived television series.
Although the film was made between July and October 1951, it was not released until 1953 due to director Stevens’ extensive editing. The film cost so much to make that at one point, Paramount negotiated its sale to Howard Hughes, who later pulled out of the arrangement. The studio felt the film would never recoup its costs, though it ended up making a significant profit. Another story reported that Paramount was going to release the film as “just another western” until Hughes watched a rough cut of the film and offered to buy it on the spot from Paramount for his RKO Radio Pictures. Hughes’ offer made Paramount reconsider the film for a major release.
Jack Palance had problems with horses and Alan Ladd with guns. The scene where Shane practices shooting in front of Joey required 116 takes. A scene where Jack Palance (credited as Walter Jack Palance) mounts his horse was actually a shot of him dismounting, but played in reverse. As well, the original planned introduction of Wilson galloping into town was replaced with him simply walking in on his horse, which was noted as improving the entrance by making him seem more threatening.