The Searchers is perhaps John Ford's greatest film. The character studies are rich and complex and never too revealing, adding mystery and depth. The location in Utah's Monument Valley is magnificent. The Technicolor is simply stunning. And of course, the story set a standard for all action movies to come. The plot is simple and engaging and the subplot allows us to take a break from the relentless search. John Wayne's portrayal of Ethan Edwards is memorable. The dark, anti-hero persona gives the movie an edge not seen in those days. Jeffrey Hunter Martin Pauly and the rest of <more>
the cast give solid performances that are very natural and spirited. All of this is credited to the brilliant directing of John Ford. It is a great movie to watch. It is a great outdoor movie that should be seen on a big screen.People say that this movie is very racist and stereotype Indians. I disagree. I think this movie is about racism, period. Both races are ruthless and barbaric in this movie. Let's take a look:1. The calvary massacres an Indian village. 2. Ethan's hatred of Indians consumes him. But his hatred has a reason. And he is not naturally racist.3. Ethan is a loner, hated and feared by his own people. 4. When Ethan and Marty are hiding out in the canyons, they shoot the Indians in the back as they retreat. Not very noble, is it? 5. Ethan shoots three white men in the back during a shootout. I guess Ethan can do it to his own people as well! 6. When Ethan sees a group of tortured white women who were rescued from the hands of "savage" Indians, he fears for the worst. But when Lucy is found, she looks well and cared for. Ethan, upset with this unexpected result, decides to kill Lucy because she has turned 'injun.' 7. Marty accidentally marries an Indian woman. Although ridiculed by Ethan, the Indian woman is portrayed favorably throughout the film.8. Marty and a friend fight for Laurie's love Marty's fiancée . It is a civilized fight among gentlemen. Ethan and Marty meet with Scar, the Indian chief who abducted Lucy. Scar realizes who they are but does not kill them on the spot. Why? It is a Commanche code of honor not to kill someone when he is at a disadvantage.9. Both races are good and evil in this movie. Ethan and Scar are both driven by revenge. One dies in the end, the other continues to live a life of a loner, dead in the eye of society. There are many reasons why I love The Searchers. It is a very simple story, yet says a lot. It is very entertaining and never boring. Unless you are a meat-head who cannot handle anything except mindless action sequences, this is the movie that stands the test of time, up there with Citizen Kane, Vertigo and The Godfather. Enjoy! Watch it on the big screen if possible. The special edition 2-Disc DVD set from Warner Brothers is an absolute must. If you are a fan, you will not believe your eyes when you see the new transfer. The film has been restored to its original VistaVision widescreen, color by Technicolor! On a final note, the last scene is pure poetry. Truly one of the greatest moment in film's history. John Ford really struck gold with this one.
Possibly the greatest movie ever made ala Spielberg (by sngjudge)
OK. First of all, I have seen quite a few movies in my time, and the complexity of this film makes this one of the top 5 movies of all time. Steven Spielberg said in an early 90's interview that this movie was possibly the greatest of all times, due to the depth of the character studies. The interplay between Ethan & Martha his brother's wife is subtle, yet screams of an undying, yet unfulfilled love that has endured for several years. You have to see the scene where Ward Bond is left in the house eating doughnuts, and witnesses the final, tender goodbye, while looking straight <more>
ahead, coming to the realization of what it all means, and how hard it is for the two of them to keep it from everyone else.It is true that the film was filmed in Utah with the story taking place in Texas, but that quickly becomes a moot point. There is not space to extol all the virtues of this movie The relationship of Ethan & Martin, Martin & Lori, and the raw emotion experienced by all members of the cast are worth the rental price. No cast member came back from making this movie the same way they were when they left. Watch the film, it gets inside you. Watch it again, and you'll find things you never saw before, no matter how many times you see it.Until next time!
Whenever I read critic's reviews of "The Searchers," I'm continually astounded by how they beat into the ground the racial aspect of the movie. Yes, it is undeniably an important theme in the plot, but no one ever touches on its more simple and beautiful qualities: the harshness of life in the Old West; the pioneer spirit so eloquently described by Ma Jorgensen. And most importantly, the fierce dedication to family shown by Ethan and even more so by the true hero of the film, Martin Pawley. As for the allegedly racist views of Ethan Edwards, go read the book, as Amos the <more>
Ethan character in the book had very real reasons to despise the Indians. People do ugly things to each other. Life is complex and viewpoints are often the results of one man's experience.
John Ford shows us how to make a Western (by dover)
John Ford is a classic Western filmmaker though certainly not the only genre in which he excelled , employing the classic Western film star, John Wayne, in perhaps one of the most underappreciated films of our time. Ford builds a thoroughly entertaining movie which explores classic Western themes without necessarily relying on these themes to drive the plot.Like any good Western, we are inorexably drawn to a kind of Cowboys vs. Indians saga, but Ford manages to draw us into the conflict in such a way that the mere "Cowboys good, Indians bad" aesthetic isn't really applicable <more>
here. While relying on the archetypical roles of the two groups to set up a conflict, Ford is ahead of his time in managing to characterize the Indians as more than "noble savages". Wayne's character's Ethan Edwards hatred of "the Commanch" is called into question a number of times, especially in his stormy relationship with adopted nephew and fellow searcher Martin Pawley Jeffrey Hunter , who we are told is a quarter-Indian himself, and cannot bring himself to find the same sort of hatred for the Indians that Ethan holds.Ethan was a Confederate soldier in the Civil War, returning to his brother's Texas homestead after the war. A group of Commanches, led by the ominous Chief Scar, route and kill his brother's family while Ethan and Martin are investigating a cattle rustling, the Commaches' diversionary tactic. The Indians took the family's youngest daughter, and the majority of the film has us following Ethan and Martin in their attempts to track down Scar and take back the girl, Debbie played by Lorna and Natalie Wood, at different times .Such a situation sets up one of the many moral ambiguities that make this more than an ordinary Western: the Commanches slaughtered Ethan's brother and his family - he seemingly has reason to hate them with the almost crazy passion that he does. Yet the more naive Martin cannot bring himself to hate them in such a way, and the split between them becomes a major point of contention when it becomes clear that Debbie has more or less been adopted as a Commanche the two "Searchers" chase after her for about five years in film time . Furthermore, when the two "Searchers" actually meet Scar, who they've been chasing for years, he is presented as a rather intelligent character, although certainly one filled with vengance - he, too, has his reasons for waging war with the likes of Ethan and Martin, and cannot merely be written off a the type of bloodthirsty savage that is typical of the portrayal of most Indians within the genre.The film relies on enough classic Western material to imbue with the feel with the sense of such pictures. Aside from the question of Ethan's morality, Wayne plays him with classic John Wayne freewheeling confidence and swagger that made the actor such an icon, and it comes off quite well. We are also given a side story involving Martin's romance with the hard-as-nails Laurie Jurgensen played by Vera Miles, best known for playing Janet Leigh's sister in "Psycho" . The relationship is from a classic, archetypical Western mold - the two have been in love since they were kids, but Martin has responsibilites to his family that stop him from making the proper time for his beau, and his rough frontier-uprbringing leave him seemingly lacking the proper sensitivity for dealing with Laura though he does, of course, have a heart of gold .As a side note, this film should prove immensely interesting to any serious fan of the "Star Wars" trilogy the original one . While those films undoubtably draw a great deal of inspiration from Kurosawa's samurai films, there is most certainly a great deal especially in the film subtitled "A New Hope" drawn from here. One scene in particular when Luke returns to his farm after stormtroopers have blasted in pieces is virtually ripped straight from "The Searchers". Ford's film is also full of the sort of gallows humor present throughout the trilogy, and even incorporates some rather goofy characters, the half-cracked Mose Harper Hank Warden and the incredibly over-the-top rival for Laura's hand Charlie McCorry Ken Curtis , without ruining the overall serious feel of the film, but managing to squeeze laughs out of absurd situations such as a fight between Martin and Charlie without compromising the ability to quickly return to a solemn tone. Such deft touch, as well as the addition of wise-cracking dialogue provided largely by Wayne and Ward Bond here are a large part of what made the original trilogy so successful, and it's strikingly similar to the type of paradigm on display between various characters here.Regardless of ranting and raving about Star Wars, however, this is an excellent film on it's own merit.
The best western ever made is how many regard this 1956 John Ford classic. Its star John Wayne gave his most winning performance and it is reputed to have been his favourite movie even to the extent of his naming his last born son Ethan after the character he played. Ford's beloved Monument Valley in Arizona never looked more spectacular in Vista Vision and colour and over the years the picture has gained cult status. An integral part of the combined elements that makes THE SEARCHERS great is Max Steiner's outstanding score. It is the picture's driving force - its backbone. <more>
Steiner's music propels the film forward, unifies the narrative and gives greater density to its key scenes. In fact without his music much of the picture's impact would be considerably diminished. Yet I am consistently amazed and at a total loss to see here on these pages - where the best part of 400 reviews appear - that Steiner's music is hardly referred to at all by any of the writers. Not only that but even on the extras of the last DVD release three well established film directors, Martin Scorsese, John Milius and Peter Bogdanovitch each speak glowingly of Ford's masterpiece but fail to mention Steiner's exceptional contribution. Bogdanovitch, at one stage, briefly mentions the music and how good it is but never puts a name on its composer. I find this not only doctrinaire but quite bizarre that these three men, who you would imagine should know better, would have such a detached attitude concerning one of the most perfectly conceived scores for a motion picture. Therefore I will attempt here to amend this anomaly and the afore mentioned omissions and give some deserving credence to Max Steiner's exceptional music for THE SEARCHERS which has well earned its place in the history of cinema.A veritable orchestral explosion opens the picture in the form of a fanfare over the Warner Bros. logo. As the credits roll we hear the haunting Stan Jones ballad "Song Of The Searchers" wonderfully rendered by Ford favourites The Sons Of the Pioneers. The composer later interpolates this song into his score as the theme for the racist protagonist Ethan Edwards Wayne . Then a lovely version - scored for guitar, solo trumpet and strings - of the traditional ballad "Lorena" plays under Ford's evocative 'frame within a frame' opening scene as the door of a remote homestead opens to reveal an approaching rider. It then skillfully segues into "Bonnie Blue Flag" to point up the rider's confederate allegiance. The "Lorena" ballad later becomes the family theme and is especially effective on solo violin for the scene where Ethan gives the young Debbie his wartime medal as her "gold locket" "Oh, let her have it - it doesn't amount to much" declares Ethan somberly . And later it is arrestingly heard on spinet as Ethan bids farewell to the family and rides out with the posse to begin what effectively will be his great search. But where the score really shines is in the powerful music for the Indian sequences. Here there is a palpable authenticity in the scoring. Aided by the clever orchestrations of Murrey Cutter and some virtuoso playing by the Warner Bros. orchestra particularly in the percussion section Steiner fires on all cylinders adding realism, pathos and a sense of foreboding. There are echoes of the composer's "King Kong" 1933 in the cue for the scene where the Indians surround the posse and the music becomes rhythmically savage for the charge at the river and for the attack on the Indian camp near the finale. The composer's celebrated "Indian Idyll" which he originally wrote five years earlier for the Burt Lancaster picture "Jim Thorpe-All American" comes into play and can be heard to splendid effect in the Indian camp sequences and as the motif for Look, Martin's Jeffrey Hunter new Indian "wife". Hearing these cues one can't help but wonder how remarkable it is that this most romantic of film composers - steeped in the musical tradition of late 19th century Vienna - his birthplace - should be so ethnically proficient at musically depicting the native American. More akin to what we have come to expect from this composer are lovely cues such as the sprightly theme for Martin and the lush and sweeping music for Martin and Laurie Vere Miles . The score - and the movie - ends just like it began with "The Song Of The Searchers" playing as Ethan and Martin finally bring Debbie home and conclusively the door of a homestead closes on Ethan where a brief fortissimo quotation from that explosive fanfare closes the picture.Alongside the great film music works of Miklos Rozsa, Alfred Newman, Dimitri Tiomkin and others Max Steiner's music for THE SEARCHERS stands head high as one the finest scores ever written for one the finest films ever made and as such should, and must, be alluded to in any dissertation or essay on the film.
John Ford's classic Western, has inspired many quest movies and tv series since its release. The film is a series of episodes linked by the 10 year quest for a niece stolen by Indians as a child. Wayne's Ethan Edwards, an embittered Confederate veteran shows only hatred for all redskins and is uncomprimising in his intended treatment of his niece when he finds her. Modern cinema audiences may find this uncomfortable, especially since western folklore has been reassessed over the last 20 years. But don't let this put you off. Ford's treatment is a modern allegory and Ethan can <more>
be forgiven his sins when, at the final denoument, one act of kindness gives us hope, and we feel Ethan has learned an important lesson. Tolerance. Everything about this film makes it a classic and perhaps the best in its genre. Ford's direction is as impeccable as ever, Frank Nugent's script and Winton Hoch's cinematography give us some of the classic images of the cinema. John Wayne, as ever, doesn't even need to act. He just sits tall in the saddle and perpetuates the myth.
Positives: 1. Spectacular cinematography, both indoors and outdoors.2. Great framing and compositions. 3. A huge influence on emerging film-makers during the early 60s.4. A number of tense set pieces.5. Pretty dark racial and psycho-sexual stuff going on beneath the film's picture-book surface.6. Some neat doubling: white woman Debbie is adopted and raised by red society and marries a red man, whilst a part red man Martin is adopted and raised by white society and marries a white woman. IE- the film treats its mixed race brother and sister as a kind of hokey symbol for future <more>
red/white racial harmony.7. Famous final scene: Ethan rescues Debbie and instead of killing her takes her home. He has managed to overcome his racism and accept her again. He can never fully accept her, though, and that is why he can never enter the door at the end of the film and join the rest of the family. Our last image is of him turning away and walking off. A relic of a dying age.8. Think about the character of "Look", how she is treated, and the symbolism of her name.Negatives: 1. "The Searchers" is a misnomer. John Wayne isn't really searching, he's just going in circles around Monument Valley. He's basically a rotating cowboy.2. Martin Pawley is hammy and negates all tension. Some of the other actors are also rather cornball.3. Tale of obsession and revenge at times feels bland and uninteresting.4. Commanche Chief is noticeably a white man in make-up. In a film filled with real Indians in incidental roles, why does the only "lead Indian" become a white man who embodies the typical "stoic, stone-faced, bloodthirsty redskin" cliché?5. Simplistic portrayal of Indians. That's to be expected, though, as Ford has always been stupid and Wayne a closet racist. In one early interview Ford justifies his treatment of Indians by saying natives were "undiplomatic" and "should have welcomed the white-man".6. Lack of grit. Post Peckinpah, Siegel, Altman and Leone, this "wild west" at times feels false and fabricated.7. Poor sense of time and distance. To compensate, Ford has people say stuff like "it's been a year since..." or "We've travelled ten miles..."8. Unfunny comedic scenes.9. Swedes.10. The land looked barren not able to support farming or ranching . What were people doing settling there all on their lonesome? 11. Great percussion score sometimes gives way to dated incidental music.12. Though Ford begins to attribute violence to whites and begins to suggest reasons for Indian rage against whites, he still serves up clichéd "evil" or "savage Indians" in contrast, every dead white person is mourned and ceremonialized in this film .13. It's disturbing how many films about "repairing race relations" resort to literal sexual relations between races as a form of bridge building. See, most recently, "Monster's Ball", "Dances With Wolves" and "Avatar".14. No sense of place. Ford doesn't flesh out the "wild west". There's no reality. Mounment Valley is just a big, pretty canvas for his talking heads to stand before.15. Some defend the film, saying that it is only Ethan who is "racist", but his views are reflected by many in the film. Brad, for example, seems far more disturbed by the fact that Lucy may have been raped by an Indian than the fact she was killed by one. And Laurie, seemingly one of the most sympathetic characters in the film, argues that it's better to put a bullet in Lucy's brain than have her "turn Indian". Everyone in the film embodies the socially accepted racism of the white community.7.9/10 - Despite his considerable compositional talents, Ford is one of cinema's most damaging directors, and his westerns only got great when he starting subverting his own false, post card images of the west. This film is at times ambiguous, and unlike Ford's early westerns tries to confront the racism underlying the Western paradigm, but it is also a film that cannot completely resolve the issues it raises.
Classic stuff, a gritty Wayne, a few little quirks... (by secondtake)
The Searchers 1956 A reliable classic that is basically a hunt for some Indians who have kidnapped a white pioneer girl after killing her family . Of course, that doesn't tell you about John Wayne's impeccable performance as the tough and angry ex-con out to settle the score. Or the stunning landscape of Monument Valley John Ford's favorite, and practically his own, cinematically . Or the interwoven love stories leaving the loner Wayne out completely . Or the sharp script, filled with witty and profound at times comebacks, but also with a believability. As extreme as some of <more>
the plot events are, this is all made plausible.In John Ford movies the protagonists are always good people. They might have flaws, or a past to consider, but they are deeply good to each other and to society as a whole. This is where John Wayne always fits in, because he's a tough moral voice. Here he is respected by everyone even as he suggests unconventional approaches to the problem. He also is relentless--one memorable line reveals this. He says that Indians chase or get chased for along time but they always reach a point where they believe it's enough and they stop. They don't he says have the concept of someone who never stops.Whether there's any truth to that doesn't matter. What Ford and Wayne establish is that this is a case of never giving up. And so the searching of the title goes on for many years, and Wayne will not stop. He seems to have acquired some money before arriving on the scene, so he can afford to just be on the chase all that time. It's kind of remarkable.It's also weirdly corny every now and then, on purpose. One of the younger characters might have a silly line, or the music once or twice even does a comic series of notes, almost as if from a bad television comedy. It's slightly disconcerting, but maybe Ford, like his opposite Alfred Hitchcock, wants everyone to know it's a constructed entertainment. It reminds you to not get too fully absorbed. I'm not sure this is the best thing in this case, but it's a small point overall.Is this the towering classic people say or people who are inclined toward Westerns say ? In ways it is. I found the plot interesting and warm and impressive, but also a little the same from start to finish. After all, the whole movie is this ongoing search, with back and forth to the family left behind and the unrequited love. Still, it's well acted and you don't mind watching it all just happen. Wayne in particular is downright furious at times, and you wonder if he had some anger in life that was channeling.The big themes here for our times revolve around loyalty and racism. Much has been made of this, and Ford has been given more credit here than I might go along with--it's the original novel, based on true-life facts from before the Civil War--but it is the crux of this. That is, there is a point when Wayne's character turns against the white woman he's been trying to rescue because he feels she's gone commanche. There are some holes even in this simplest approach--for example, why does he not realize until he sees her that she's been raised in a Native American culture for four years? Did it never occur to him otherwise? And then there is the sudden and completely unexplained final turn, again, the other way. It's dramatic stuff, for sure, but as the basis of a serious movie about a social theme it's unsupported.No, it's better to see this movie as a bit of masterful shooting and editing, of storytelling with a camera, of acting for a 1950s widescreen style that's becoming something even removed, because of higher polish, from classic Hollywood. Wayne is in a role similar to what made him famous in the 1939 John Ford uber-Western, "Stagecoach," where he is likewise a minor fugitive with a good heart that the local sheriff likes personally and has to depend on for the safety of ordinary folk. This isn't time-worn stuff if you can look for differences and subtlety, but I'm sure some people see this Western--or others like it--and think they's seen it before. For really broader ideas of the genre you have to go to "High Noon" and "Johnny Guitar" and "Destry Rides Again," keeping in a roughly 17 year period. This is at its core a John Wayne/John Ford Western with some gritty stuff going on, and as such it doesn't let you down.
JEFFREY HUNTER IS WONDERFUL AND PERFECT (by tyronesuperpower)
JEFFREY HUNTER IS WONDERFUL. The Searchers is not an excellent movie and John Wayne is boring, this is not a John Wayne's movie, this is a Jeffrey Hunter's movie. Jeffrey is the salvation from this movie. The best John Ford's movie is THE LONG GRAY LINE, and after that only the movies that Ford's made with Jeffrey is excellent, all the rest is not very good. John Wayne do not exist close from Jeffrey Hunter, Jeffrey is many more beautiful, sexy, handsome, perfect, talented, etc. John Wayne never change, and here is all the same boring, ugly and awful man, and the silly open <more>
the door from Jeffery stolen the movie. Wayne is not talented, is a bad actor, and here Wayne give one of your worst performances. Here Wayne have a same kind of character, this made Wayne became an awful actor. Natalie Wood, God Lord she's is the end of Hollywood.But Jeffrey is so wonderful, talented, brilliant, 100% actor, 100% excellent, good, everything. Jeffrey made one of your brilliant performances, Jeffrey is a brilliant actor, he stolen the movie and made all of the actors disappear. All the Jeffrey's scenes is excellent, he's so beautiful, and so fanny, so talented, your scene is wonderful, Jeffrey is the Tyrone Power from the 50´s, talented, beautiful and very very loved. When Jeffrey talk all the people surrender, he's so charismatic, so everything, Ford's made a wonderful job when he put Jeffrey in this movie. Because if this movie do not have Jeffrey, this movie became one more silly movie in John Wayne's carrier. All Jeffrey carrier is perfect, he made very excellent jobs in the cinema, and in The Searchers he's the soul in this movie. Without Jeffrey The Searchers do not exist. His eyes, his smile, his face, his voice, his talent, his beauty, his body, his color, his chest, his interpretation, his looks, his noise, Jeffrey Hunter is perfect. When Jeffrey appear you forget the history, because he's so everything, and he freezing all the people in the chair, and made you forget the history.The only performance good beyond the Jeffrey is Vera Miles, she's wonderful and gives a good performance.SO JEFFREY IS THE MOVIE, JEFFREY IS THE SEARCHERS, JEFFREY IS EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING IN THIS MOVIE, YOU MUST SEE JEFFREY IN THIS MOVIE, AND TELL ME, WHO IS JOHN WAYNE? JEFF IS EVERYTHING. JEFFREY IS THE KING, THE KING OF THE SEARCHERS. JEFFREY HUNTER YOU ARE THE BEST, THE BEST FROM THE BEST. THE SEARCHERS IS JEFFREY'S MOVIE, ONLY JEFFREY HUNTER'S MOVIE, AND END OF DISCUSSION.