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The Searchers (Two-Disc 50th Anniversary Edition)
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Working together for the 12th time, John Wayne and director John Ford forged The Searchers into a landmark Western offering an indelible image of the frontier and the men and women who challenged it. Wayne plays an ex-Confederate soldier seeking his niece, captured by Comanches who massacred his family. He won't surrender to hunger, thirst, the elements or loneliness. And in his five-year search, he encounters something unexpected: his own humanity. Beautifully shot by Winton C. Hoch, thrillingly scored by Max Steiner and memorably acted by a wonderful ensemble including Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles, Natalie Wood and Ward Bond, The Searchers endures as "a great film of enormous scope and breathtaking physical beauty" (Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic).]]>
Top Customer Reviews
The plot is deceptively 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.
With all of Ford's unique 'touches' clearly in evidence (the doorways 'framing' the film's opening and conclusion, with a cave opening serving the same function at the film's climax; the extensive use of Monument Valley; and the nearly lurid palette of color highlighting key moments) and his reliance on his 'stock' company of players (Wayne, Ward Bond, John Qualen, Olive Carey, Harry Carey, Jr, Hank Worden, and Ken Curtis), the film marks the emergence of the 'mature' Ford, no longer deifying the innocence of the era, but dealing with it in human terms, where 'white men' were as capable of savagery as Indians, frequently with less justification.
Featuring 18-year old Natalie Wood in one of her first 'adult' roles, the sparkling 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 rich score, THE SEARCHERS is a timeless movie experience that becomes richer with each viewing.
It is truly a masterpiece!
Now considered possibly the greatest weatern movie of all-time, "The Searchers" was panned by the critics of its day for being just another "ho-hum" John Wayne western. It took years, but modern critics and viewers now recognize it as an epic of western filmmaking that perhaps will never be topped. If I had to choose one movie that represented the best of the west, it is undoubtedly "The Searchers".
John Wayne gives his most intense acting performance as the dark and vengeful Ethan Edwards, who vows to kill the Commanche raiders that murdered his beloved sister-in-law, brother, and took captive two of their daughters. Wayne easily carries the film on his broad brooding shoulders, pursuing the Indians for over 5 years through summer and winter, ever relentless to see their chief, "Scar", dead, and his captive nieces rescued.
Director John Ford is at the height of his creative powers in directing this western masterpiece. He weaves so many different themes and levels of interpretation into the film, that one discovers something new with each viewing. It would take a small treatise to bring out all the subtle details.
Succinctly and to the point, "The Searchers" is a film that you will watch again and again, and love it each time a bit more. It is that absolute best in western filmmaking!
Jim Konedog Koenig
In short, it's not. And let me be absolutely clear about one thing: I have known and loved this film for years. A few sequences look properly spectacular, but after watching this DVD on two separate (and high-quality) televisions, I'm amazed that all of the low-light scenes have been rendered almost completely dark. Like, too dark to tell what's even *happening*. For instance, the scene where Brad (Harry Carey, Jr.) runs off to his death, the scene where Marty's (Jeffrey Hunter's) "bride" is serving coffee along the river, and even the pre-dawn scenes leading up to the final storming of the Comanche camp, are utterly lost in the dark. By contrast, the bare-bones 1997 DVD release features noticeably richer colors in the daytime scenes and total clarity in the low-light scenes I've just mentioned. Don't waste your money on this special edition; you'll be much happier if you just shell out the $10.99 for the 1997 release.
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