MovieChat Forums > Shane (1953) Discussion > Under Appreciated Ben Johnson

Under Appreciated Ben Johnson


He's the cowpoke who nicknames Shane as 'sodypop' to his regret. His slow, drawling goading is classic:
"Why don't you go back with the women and children where it's safe?"
"Did you think you was gonna come in here and drink with the men?"
Ben Johnson was a real life rodeo champion who played small parts in many westerns. He brought authenticity with him. I like how in this movie he chooses not to participate in the mass beat down of Shane after Shane has beaten him in a fair fight. Johnson has few lines, but you can see how his character (Chris) slowly realizes he doesn't want to be on the side of Ryker. It all in his eyes, until he finally goes to Shane to warn him that Starretts going into an ambush.
It's a small part, not unlike the soft spoken cavalrymen he played in John Ford westerns.

Soy 'un hijo de la playa'

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Just saw most of the film on TV yesterday. It finally dawned on me that the Johnson character might have been the only one of Ryker's crew who had had some religious or moral training. During Torrey's funeral, while the other mutants are grinning and chuckling, his expression is somewhere between disgust and despair. Which moves him to leave Ryker and warn Shane.
"May I bone your kipper, Mademoiselle?"

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Agreed Ben Johnson has been underrated
I look for his films
Thank goodness he was part of john Wayne's circle

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The first sign that he has character is when he fights Shane. After he loses, he refuses to rejoin Ryker's men when they gang up on Shane. He takes his loss in stride and walks out rather than turn it into a victory by accepting an unfair advantage.

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Goes to show you that not every antagonist is a purely evil S.O.B. As "Chris," Johnson was one of the best parts about this movie.

Loved him in THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, too. I don't know when it became fashionable to regard actors who "play themselves" as bad actors, but Ben Johnson was no "bad actor." Like James Cagney, Gary Cooper and Edward G. Robinson, there was never a false note in his acting.

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Ben is one of my favourite Western actors. He was such a natural. It was John Ford who got him in to acting as before that he was just riding and looking after horses in films. Thanks Mr Ford. For further great performances check out One Eyed Jacks and Dillinger amongst many others.

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I deadset am sure that John Ford, John Wayne and Sam Peckinpah didn't underappreciate the talents and character of Ben Johnson.🐭

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Just watched him in The Sugarland Express where he plays an understanding cop. Another great performance. Hawn and Atherton are good but it's Ben's show.

:THIS COULDN'T HAVE GONE TO A NICER FELLER:

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I wouldn't describe Ben Johnson as under-appreciated or underrated at all. He's been highly thought-of in everything he's been in, by fans and movie-makers alike.

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No one mentioned it, but Ben was the co-star of one of my favorite movies as a kid, Mighty Joe Young (49).

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I hear you. But I like to think that Ben Johnson was very much appreciated by film buffs as well as film directors and other actors, even if the general public didn't recognize him. Take a look at Bogdanovich's "The Last Picture Show" ......Ben was heart-breakingly good. I swear he invented the word "authentic" ....because he certainly was. Never a big star (perhaps this is what you are referring to), but a great character actor....he always improved every film he was in. Just my 2 cents!

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I think you're quite right. I've read that whenever a western was being cast, Johnson was one of the first actors considered . . . . because he was "authentic". Brando insisted on him for One Eyed Jacks.

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james stewart was the first choice to play sam the lion. however; he was committed to a tv show.

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the first sign that tim calloway was different than the rest was when the young girl smiles at him in the general store; and he respectfully returns the smile.

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That's a good observation- and I'm so glad that Ben Johnson got the part over Stewart- nothing against Jimmy but come on he had enough limelight. Perfect casting in one of the great movies.

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