Starrett in “Shane”

November 27, 2009

Check this, my friends.  The character played by Van Heflin in “Shane” is named Joe Starrett.

A couple of interesting facts:  Jack Schaefer wrote the highly successful novel “Shane” in 1949.  There has been some speculation among film historians that Schaefer, Ohio-born and East Coast-educated, borrowed the name from one of the top-10 B-western stars of the day, Charles Starrett.

George Stevens directed the film adaptation in 1953, one year after Charlie retired.  The name of the character remained unchanged.

There are many things one can take away from this.  I ask these questions: would the character have been as effective if named “Joe Maynard”?  How about “Joey Mack Brown”?

Conversely: would Schaefer have dared name his character “Joe Autry”?  Would Stevens have not insisted on a name change had the character been named “Joe Wayne”?