Kelly and I were in Jackson Hole a couple of weeks ago. We had gone down to photograph the old homesteads, some of which were used as filming locations for the western movie “Shane”. I lived in Jackson during the 80’s, so I had spent many hours at the old buildings, photographing them throughout the seasons. But now it had been fifteen to twenty years since my last visit. I was amazed at how good the Moulton barns looked, as they are a hundred years old. I had the good fortune of meeting some of the Moulton family in the early 90’s. A grandson relayed a story of how, in 1951, he and a friend were playing in the haymow of the John Moulton barn during the filming. One of the crew yelled for them to be quiet. “We’re trying to make a film here!” He was also present when the 'Shane standing in the rain' scene was shot. “It was done during the middle of the day using hoses for rain and filters to make it appear nighttime”, he told me. The Moulton clan is a close-knit family, even today fiercely proud of their ancestors. One couple even purchased a photo Cindy had taken of one of the barns. They continued to buy one each Christmas, until every member of their family had one. The Miller Cabin, or Shane Cabin as it is now called, is not in as good of shape. The cabin roof is long gone, and the barn caved in a few years ago. This is the one location one can easily recognize in the film. Edgar Buchanan and his family are filmed at this cabin more than once.
Looking out the window at the Tetons, I wonder if the settlers had time to fully appreciate the view, or were they too busy just trying to survive. Some interesting notes about “Shane”: Montgomery Clift was the first choice for Shane, played by Alan Ladd. William Holden was the choice for Van Heflin’s homesteader part. Katharine Hepburn was busy, so Jean Arthur played the wife. The filming was done in 1951, but the movie was not released until 1953. “Shane" cost three million dollars to produce, and it was the first movie filmed in wide screen. The movie is ranked the third best western of all time. And it is ranked 47th best of all movies.