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CLASSIC WESTERN ABOUT A MAN ON THE TRAIL OF THE INDIANS WHO SLAUGHTERED HIS FAMILY.
A favorite film of some of the world's greatest filmmakers, including Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, John Ford's The Searchers has earned its place in the legacy of great American films for a variety of reasons. Perhaps most notably, it's the definitive role for John Wayne as an icon of the classic Western--the hero (or antihero) who must stand alone according to the unwritten code of the West. The story takes place in Texas in 1868; Wayne plays Ethan Edwards, a Confederate veteran who visits his brother and sister-in-law at their ranch and is horrified when they are killed by marauding Comanches. Ethan's search for a surviving niece (played by young Natalie Wood) becomes an all-consuming obsession. With the help of a family friend (Jeffrey Hunter) who is himself part Cherokee, Ethan hits the trail on a five-year quest for revenge. At the peak of his masterful talent, director Ford crafts this classic tale as an embittered examination of racism and blind hatred, provoking Wayne to give one of the best performances of his career. As with many of Ford's classic Westerns, The Searchers must contend with revisionism in its stereotypical treatment of "savage" Native Americans, and the film's visual beauty (the final shot is one of the great images in all of Western culture) is compromised by some uneven performances and stilted dialogue. Still, this is undeniably one of the greatest Westerns ever made. --Jeff Shannon
- Warner Bros. Presents: 4 Documentary Shorts
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John Wayne's performance in this movie is outstanding! Shows he has acting range.
That'll be the day!
The plot is very simple; after a Comanche raiding party massacres a family, taking the youngest daughter prisoner, her uncle, Ethan Edwards (Wayne), and adopted brother, Martin Pawley (Jeffrey Hunter), begin a long quest to try and rescue her. Over the course of years, a rich tapestry of characters and events unfold, as the nature of the pair's motives are revealed, and bigoted, bitter Edwards emerges as a twisted man bent on killing the 'tainted' white girl. Only Pawley's love of his 'sister' and determination to protect her stands in his way, making the film's climax, and Wayne's portrayal of Edwards, an unforgettable experience.
The film features 18-year old Natalie Wood in one of her first 'adult' roles, Vera Miles as Pawley's love interest, Wayne's son Patrick in comic relief, and the harmonies of the Sons of the Pioneers accenting Max Steiner's score. Timeless movie.
While the story is set in Texas, most of the outdoor shots are obviously done in Monument Valley which is in southern Utah just across the border from Arizona. This sort of incongruity would probably not go over well today but back then it made little difference, probably because most people had no idea where Monument Valley is, and the views of the scenery are striking anyway.
The plot is classic Wayne with him playing a tough character who knows everything about surviving in the Wild West including the customs of Indians and Mexicans. The story involves Comanche Indians who burn down a white settlement, kill the adults, and kidnap two young girls to bring them up as Indians. Wayne leads a party to find the girls, thus the title The Searchers.