"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on February 22, 1954 with Alan Ladd and Van Heflin reprising their film roles.
Jean Arthur was over 50 years old when she played Marian Starrett - she was, in fact, ten years older than Emile Meyer, who plays grizzled old cattle baron Rufus Ryker.
Jean Arthur, a committed animal lover, took it upon herself to personally inspect the conditions that the film's roster of livestock were being kept in. If they wasn't up to her satisfaction, she would ensure that the matter was rectified.
Jean Arthur, then over 50, came out of semi-retirement to play Marian Starrett, largely as a favor to her friend, director George Stevens. She would retire completely from the film business after this picture.
Katharine Hepburn was originally suggested for the role of Marian.
George Stevens originally cast Montgomery Clift as Shane, and William Holden as Joe Starrett. When both decided to do other films instead, "Shane" was nearly abandoned before Stevens asked studio head Y. Frank Freeman who was available. Upon seeing a list of actors with current contracts, Stevens cast Alan Ladd, Van Heflin and Jean Arthur within three minutes.
Alan Ladd was only 5'6", and this had to be compensated for. When he is in scenes with Van Heflin the two are about the same height, although Heflin was far taller. When Ladd is shown with Jean Arthur he is perhaps a bit taller than she. When Heflin is shown with her, Heflin is far taller than she.
According to the commentary on the DVD, during the scene where Shane and Joe are fighting in the corral, the tied horses were supposed to panic. To instill hysteria in the horses, the director had two men dressed in a bear costumes to scare them.
Although the movie is generally remembered for its blue sky vistas, the weather was actually cloudy or rainy for a great deal of the shoot. However, if you look beyond the mud in the town, you can see that the ground is dry. Obviously, part of the town had been watered down.
At the time of filming, Jack Palance was not comfortable with horses. The one good mount he achieved during the numerous takes was used in the film.
During the bar fight between Shane and Calloway, the off-screen voice that says "knock him back the pig-pen" is that of George Stevens.
During the filming Jack Palance had problems with his horse. In the scene at the Starrett ranch where Alan Ladd (Shane) and Palance (Jack Wilson) first look each other over. Palance was to dismount for a minute then remount his horse. He could not remount, so the director had Jack dismount his horse slowly, then ran the film in reverse for the remount.
Filmed between late July and mid-October 1951, the film was held back until its Manhattan premiere at Radio City Music Hall on August 21, 1953, due to director George Stevens's extensive editing.
In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #45 Greatest Movie of All Time.
In the face-off between Wilson (Jack Palance) and Elisha Cook Jr. (Torrey), Torrey tells Wilson that he is "a low-down, lyin' Yankee". Although director George Stevens kept directing Palance at this point to smile - an expression of amused contempt at Cook - Palance continued take after take to show too much menace and not enough of a smile mixed in. Finally, Stevens took Cook aside and whispered something to him. During the next take, Cook read his line, and added "and a son of a bitch, too!" This time, Stevens got his take. When Shane faces Wilson, Shane says "You're a low-down Yankee liar".
In the funeral scene, the dog consistently refused to look into the grave. Finally, director George Stevens had the dog's trainer lie down in the bottom of the grave, and the dog played his part ably. The coffin (loaded with rocks for appropriate effect) was then lowered into the grave, but when the harmonica player began to play "Taps" spontaneously, the crew was so moved by the scene that they began shoveling dirt into the grave before remembering the dog's trainer was still there.
Meticulous care was taken at all levels of production. All the physical props were true to the period, the buildings were built to the specifications of the time and the clothing was completely authentic. Director George Stevenseven had somewhat scrawny-looking cattle imported from other areas, as the local herds looked too well-fed and healthy.
Ranked #3 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Western" in June 2008.
Shane's fancy gun twirling in the climactic showdown was actually performed by Rodd Redwing. Earlier, when Shane demonstrates his prowess for Joey, and it is clearly Alan Ladd himself on camera, the actor had been given a different, easier-to-use revolver for the scene.
The film cost so much to make that at one point, Paramount considered selling it to another distributor. The studio felt the film would never earn back what it cost to make. It ended up making a significant profit.