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The Searchers is a classic Western, which many regard as the best film of John Wayne's career as the lynch pin of American testosterone for much of the middle of the 20th Century. Set in 1868 in Texas, it features Wayne as Ethan Edwards, a Civil War veteran who returns from a 3 year long stint fighting to find a group of Comanche Indians have been ravaging his family's cattle. However, when he and a small group set off to fend off the Comanche, the Indians attack his family's ranch, killing all but his two nieces, who are taken captive. Thus begins a 5 year quest to search for them and bring them home.
Right from the word go, director John Ford states his intentions of giving us a beautiful film, wanting to concentrate on the huge backdrop of the Texan countryside. On the flip side of the coin, Wayne seems to do everything in his power to give us the drawl that we know him before, that ability to deliver every line as if it needs overstating. Ford's patience and Wayne's bullishness are at loggerheads here, but it works brilliantly.
Ethan is accompanied by one other person for the majority of the search, and that's Martin Pawley (Jeffrey Hunter). Hunter does well as the young man brought up as an adoptee by Ethan's family and looking to help save his two 'cousins', and as the film progresses, and as other searchers fall by the wayside, it's these two who remain. Pawley's affection and determination to save the girls is matched only by Ethan's determination that they have degenerated and forgotten who they are: becoming Comanche themselves due to the amount of time they have been with them, and from a young age.
As the film develops, the dogged determination of the characters is what really breaks through and becomes the underlying factor. There are a number of poignant moments in the film, and Ford's use of music throughout matches the mood of the film at the time. The pair would continue to have a working relationship as director and actor for a number of films, but I found this one to be the most memorable. Ethan Edwards is a very convincing character, and despite Wayne's gruffness that he is famed for, there are a number of occasions when a bit of sensitivity comes into the film, from early on right through until the end. This is in complete contrast to the hardnosed Civil War veteran he gives us for the rest of the film.
The Searchers is a classic Western, and I urge you to watch it. The visual scenery is stunning, Ford's direction is inspired, and John Wayne is the big lead actor well suited to the job. The DVD is available now in its remastered version with full colour and extras for only £3.99, which is a great price considering how good this is.
The Searchers starts on a shot of a desert landscape from within a house and we see someone approaching on horseback. This man is Ethan Edwards played by John Wayne. He has returned from the Civil War to his brother's ranch in Texas. We soon realise that he is in love with his brother's wife Martha played by Dorothy Jordan.
The next day he departs with a party of Texan rangers in pursuit of Indians who have stolen some cattle. However, while he is gone, the ranch is attacked and his brother and his wife are murdered and their two daughters captured. The remainder of the film spans he next five years as Ethan and his companion scour the land in search of the girls.
It is a simple enough story but John Ford who directed this has made it into perhaps one of the most famous and best westerns of all time. I felt that the movie was helped enormously by the setting. The red sandstone rocks are an amazing spectacle and the sheer size of the landscapes and backdrops make the characters seem almost vulnerable against it as it's so vast.
At the core of the story is John Wayne's character Ethan Edwards and plays him superbly from start to finish. From the moment we first see him riding up we can tell he is a giant of a man who is overwhelming and strong. Howver, he has one major flaw in his character and that's his hatred of Indians, sometimes irrational and he is taken over by that hatred to the extent of obssession at times.
I found that I was able to warm to Ethan even though he is obviously racist towards the Indian race. I felt sympathy with him despite that which is one of the things the movie does so well.
There is a great soundtrack along the way to add to the film's atomsphere and a certain amount of comedy mixed in as well, despite the story being quite harrowing at times. This is well worth watching if you love your westerns and comparing it to some of the movies of more recent times in this genre. I don't think you will be disappointed.
As you can probably guess from this film that it was hubby's film choice, much to my annoyance!
This film sees John Wayne playing the role of Ethan Edwards. It s set in Texas in 1868. Ethan returns 3 years after the war has ended to his brothers house and the family. He is pleased to be back but soon finds he is being asked to go and help the local men fight off a gang of Comanche Indians who have been threatening the people who live in the area and killing for no reason.
As the men all set off to find the Indians they soon discover than they have been set up and the Indians have gone around them and when Ethan returns home he finds the house and the family have been killed apart from his two nieces Lucy and Debbie who have been taken hostage by the Comanche Indians.
Ethan and his sort of adopted nephew, Pauly, Ethan found him as a baby and sent him to his brothers to be bought up, set off in search of the Indians with the help of some of the local men with the hope of returning with both Lucy and Debbie but the trail is harder than they anticipated. The Local men who are helping Ethan and Pauly soon leave them to return home and the two men are now alone in their search and are more determined to find Debbie and Lucy now as Ethan knows they have been 'contaminated' by the Comanche. They spend years tracking the Indians but unfortunately on their way they find the body of Lucy who Ethan has to bury and tell her lover about her death. Ethan is now determined to find Debbie and kill her as she is now no longer pure.
Will Ethan and Pauly be able to find Debbie and will Ethan actually be able to kill her or will his love for his family take over and see him saving her?
I did go into this film with absolutely no expectations as I am not a fan of John Wayne but I can say that I was surprised by this film and it was in fact quite good and had a good storyline to it. John Wayne did play the main role of Ethan Edwards and I thought that he did do a good job but as we all know he is very good at playing the cowboy. I also thought he worked well with the other actors in the film and they all had a good on screen chemistry.
The actor who played the role of Pauly was also very good and came across very well on screen. All of the supporting actors were also good in their roles and I think that they managed to add a little bit of depth to the story, for instance there was a storyline which involved one of the girls being in love with Pauly and having to wait around for him for years. Also the characters of Old Moe's was extremely good and he did bring an element of humour to the film and I thought he was by far the best in the film.
The film was set in Texas in 1886 and I thought that this was put across extremely well on film and all of the scenery and sets were well done and a lot of attention to detail was done with the costumes. I did however notice a few badly added back drops but as this film was made in 1956 then this can be forgiven. The music in the film was actually very good and I did find myself enjoying it. The music director deserves a lot of credit for what he produced for this film. The music which was played was able to add emotions to the film and also help to explain what was going on with the fighting and emotional side of the story.
The DVD which we have does have some bonus material which includes:-
Featurettes:- Jeffrey hunter interview, Setting up production, Natalie Wood Interview, Monument Valley.
As I am not a fan of DVD extras I have not watched these so cannot make comment on them.
The running time of this film is 114 minutes which I did find to be quite long enough. I did in fact say to hubby after the first 40 minutes that I cannot believe we now have 1 hour and 10 minutes of watching them chasing the Indians but I will admit that the film did pick up then and I found I lost track of the time and started to get into the film. The certificate on this film is a U which means that this film is suitable for all and I will agree with this.
The DVD is widely available and does not cost much, it is well under £5 if you shop around. I am going to recommend this film as it did surprise me but this is definitely not the best I have see John Wayne in.
The Searchers is a classic western starring John Wayne and directed by John Ford. It is regarded very highly both as an example of the Western genre and as a film in general attaining classic status in more recent times despite a less enthusiastic reception upon its initial release in1956.
This is very much a rescue and revenge tale. We follow the unconventional hero Ethan Edwards and his eventual companion Martin Pawley in a long and weary quest, played by John Wayne and Jeffrey Hunter respectively. They set out with bold intentions in a group but they alone go the distance and are willing to see it through to the end, however long that takes. Martin Pawley leaves the woman he loves behind and their to-in and fro-ing though occaissionally irritating provides the emotional base of the film.
Not being a massive John Wayne film myself I am always somewhat perturbed by his presence in a film for it immediately becomes a John Wayne film almost, a seperate genre in itself. The trouble is John Wayne tends to play John Wayne. He's like a product with all his catchphrases and such. But as he often did the films he starred in; John Wayne is beginning to dominate my review.
So lets draw a line under the matter by saying that John Wayne is good in this film. He has presence on the screen and I think its this that holds the film together.
The Searchers does not get off to the best of starts. Indeed throughout the whole first hour very little occurs. Instead we get rather cloying Little House on the Prarie style family banter. Things get more interesting when John Wayne's character turns up, a mysterious war veteran with a deep loathing of the Indians. The Cherokee especially.
Things get a lot more interesting, of course, when everything goes wrong and The Cherokees break the idyllic family scene by attacking the house prompting our two main protaganists to set off on their long journey towards redemption.
Though it trundles along to begin with. Its picked up a good head of steam by the middle; with Indian encounters, and some good repartee between the two main characters. Come the end: its roaring along towards a bullet-ridden climax with a full cavalry charge bugles n' all.
This films faults mostly derive from its datedness. This is often the cause of some spell-breaking, unintentional humour.
Mostly though its a good example of the genre though I, myself wouldn't class it as one of the best as many do.
Though I certainly enjoyed this film in the end the depth of appreciation for this film seems to be incredible. I don't seem to have seen nearly as much profundity in it as some people have. What I see as a straight-forward decent western others seem to see as one of the best films of all time.
Once this film gets going you'll follow it to the end though your attention may waver at the start.
A central theme is that of racism. Somewhat controversiallly the hero of this film despises the Cherokee and would gladly see them wiped from the Earth, at one point shooting wildly into a herd of Buffalos just so there'll be less for the Indians. Theres clearly a wider theme of genocide being alluded to here and its handled very well.
The hard-bitten pride and dignity behind their unremitting 5-year quest is certainly a stressed theme which you will appreciate. There is something singularly Western about this.
There is a suprising vein of humour running through this film which perhaps saves it from becoming too self-improtant. Its mostly basic stuff: slapstick, amusing idiots and how many times Wayne says, "That'll be the day" (a lot). But its all good natured and well,...nice. Despite my hesitation at the use of an empty adjective this word best sums up what The Searchers is.
A general air of mustiness pervades throughout on account of its age. Many little quirks pop up which can date films. Such as a long drawn out close-up of a women screaming. We've moved on from that. Such archaisms don't ruin the film, just hamper your immersion slightly.
I would say its slightly overlong. Their quest lasts five years but thats no reason why the film should.
Racism isn't nice. The whole 'Indians are savages' thing is rather unpleasent but I suppose necessary to the plot.
4:3 Full Frame
1.85 Wide Screen
Mono English French Italian
Setting Up Production
Monument Valley Featurette
Essentially despite its apparant complexities and depths this is just a pleasant heart warming tale from the Old West.
In each movie genre there are always films that stand head and shoulders above the rest. When it comes to Western's this is one of those films. In fact I'd go so far as to say that "The Searchers" may well be the greatest Western ever.
It tells of Ethan Edwards who returns to his brothers farm after the American Civil War. Ethan joins a party of Rangers tracking a group of Commanche who have been raiding homesteads. Whilst doing this the Commanche raid Ethans brothers farm murder the family burn the homestead and take his 9 year old niece Debbie with them.
Thus begins an epic 5 year search undertaken by Ethan and his nephew (Jeffrey Hunter) to track the Commanche and find Debbie.
As the years pass we see the grief and hatred fester inside Ethan, finally culminating in an outburst stating that Debbie would be more Commanche indian than his neice.
Finally Ethan and a group of Cavalry find the renegades and attack. They find Debbie and in fear and panic she flees, Jeffrey Hunter tries to protect her fearful that Ethan will kill her.
His fears are unfounded as Ethan sweeps her up in his arms and takes her home.
The final scene as Debbie is taken into a farmhouse and we see Ethan stood outside framed by the door just before it shuts is one of the most poignant images in film history for me and always brings a lump to my throat.
This is a simple tale of a mans need for revenge that is overtaken by something more and then his eventual redemption in bringing his neice back to "civilization".
Ethan Edwards returns to his brothers farm three years after the end of the civil war.
While Ethan and his adoptive nephew Martin Pawley join a company of Texas Rangers to track a Commanche raiding party, the renegades double back to attack and burn the Edwards homestead, kidnapping nine year old Debbie.
Then begins a five year odyssesy. Ethan(John Wayne) and Martin(Jeffrey Hunter)journey from South to North from season to season hunting the band that abducted the young girl. And all the long while Ethans obsessive hatred and lust for revenge grows ever more intense.
John Ford's film journeys deep into the heart of Ethan Edwards darkness. He emerges from a personally unconceeeded war and a couple of years of highly questionable wanderings into a settled family home and a community thats moved on.
Throughout the film there are reasonances from a shared and sometimes secret past. Most poignantly the hopeless, impossible love between Ethan and his sister-in-law expressed in looks and longings;in how he passes her a lamp from the firplace, in how she carresses his Johnny Reb greatcoat when alone in a room. And woven into Max Steiner's musical score is the song"Lorena"the most popular tune amongst the troops of the Civil War.
Th interior cabin scenes are lit in tender shades that give a feeling of hearth and home to John Fords painterly composition, and in one crowded sequence when the rangers arrive at breakfast time the dialogue is seemingly random and overlapping with several conversations going off in different directions, but is so well orchestrated all ends up at the right point so naturally that its quite astonishing and makes you wonder how such a scene was rehearsed to such perfection.
Rich in its characters-Ward Bond as the Reverend Clayton fruity voiced preacher, ex-confederate soldier now a serving texas Ranger. Hank Warden-is Mose the half crazed frontier scout who(its never noted)does as much as any to find Debbie and is certainly one of "the Searchers".
The Jorgensons-Olive Carey, John Qualen, Harry Carey jnr, Vera Miles.
Most members of John Fords repertory company.
There are no bones to be made about it, this is a great film. Bracketed by an opening door at the beginning and by one closing at the end, filled with unforgettable images and dialogue-Like Ethan in stormy outline unleashing his rifle, casting aside its buckskin scabbard with his arm outstretched when he sees his brothers burning farmhouse. Cavalry troopers in formation moving through winter snow. John Wayne so intense in his "Turnin'o the Earth"speech. Lucy's scream of terror before the Commanche attack. And so many more visions and sounds that will linger in the memory.
The centre of the film is John Wayne's performance
Ethan is disruption
Ethan is turbulence.
But he is the bad man needed in a difficult time. Without him Debbie would remain the wife of Scar her abductor ready to bare him her own "savage brats" in Lori Jorgensons shocking outburst. But then is a feeling he's fighting against finer feelings-tenderness and concern. Wayne has never been better.
If you are going to buy"The Searchers" on DVD(and you should make an effort to)make sure you find the version restored from the original Vista Vision Prints. In an extas interview Martin Scorsese says its the best ever format for film, and if possible see it on a wide screen television.
I've seen this film many times over the years but I've never seen it look like this, its a revelation, never has Monument Valley looked more...., well...., Monumental.
The extra's are excellent especially an appreciation by Martin Scorsese, Curtis Hansen and John Milius who give intelligent studied opinions and clearly loved the film. As do many. As do I.
Thanks for reading may also be posted on other review sites.
Does The Searchers stand the test of time? After all it was made in 1956 (45 years ago) and for those of you who might think “What would I be doing watching a movie made 45 years ago and starring that big lumbering Ox, John Wayne.” Well, think again. John Wayne starring in a Western is of no great surprise; he is synonymous with this genre. Many of the Westerns he starred in were average and were typically Wayne vehicles. Wayne came first, the movie second and in fairness a lot of them were crap. Mind you it was entertaining crap. For many he was a one-dimensional actor, unable to display any real emotion and even if he wasn’t in a western, you still expected to see a horse and a gun belt somewhere. However from time to time he did manage to deliver some exceptional performances. One, which stands out, is his characterization of Ethan Edwards in The Searchers. For me it is his greatest ever role. Ethan returns home to his brother’s (Aaron) homestead three years after the Civil War has ended. He fought for the Confederates and didn’t recognise the surrender. Martha (his brothers wife) welcomes him into the family home. They have three children Lucy, Debbie and Ben. He gives gifts to Ben (a Sabre) and Debbie (a locket) and gives Yankee Dollars to Aaron “to pay his way.” During their evening meal Martin Pawley played by Jeffrey Hunter calls. He is clearly part of the family as he addresses Martha and Aaron as Aunt and Uncle. Ethan can’t take his eyes off him and says, “I could mistake you for a half breed.” to which Martin replies “I’m eight Cherokee and the rest Welsh and English.” This sets the tone for the rest of the movie, as clearly Ethan has a hatred for Indians and doesn’t hide it. The next morning Ward Bond (a great performance) who plays Captain Reverend Clayton arrives at the ranch with assorted members in tow. He wants to take Aaron as pa
rt of a Posse to hunt rustlers who stole cattle. Ethan tells Aaron to “Stay close” as the rustlers might be Comanche and that he’ll go instead. Ethan and the Posse find the Cattle (slain) and immediately know it was a ruse to draw them away from the homesteads. Ethan and Martin return home to find the family have been slaughtered and the raiding Comanche party have taken Lucy and Debbie (played by Natalie Wood) The rest of the movie concerns the search for the two girls. Others help but eventually it’s down to two men, Ethan and Martin. It takes place over a number of years. Ethan’s mood becomes darker and darker and revenge is clearly on his mind. Martin is clearly worried about the eventual outcome. I won’t spoil the rest of the movie by giving away anymore of the story. There are lighter moments and some of them work and some don’t. I feel myself they just didn’t belong but having said that, they don’t take away from Wayne’s performance. There is a fine supporting cast which includes Vera miles, Harry Carey Jr and Dorothy Jordan who plays Martha. John Ford directed it and the master craftsman simply pulled out all the stops with this one. The movie takes you on a roller coaster of emotions. It’s simply a tour de force and I would challenge anyone to watch it and not be affected in some way.
The Searchers is the dark side of the Western and deals with themes of redemption and loss. John Wayne has never been more moody and the voyage underyaken has never been so murky. It almost feels like a fifties western version of Taxi Driver, as Wayne attempts to recover his neice from the indians who kidnapped her eight years before, whilst at the same time undertake a quest which will bring him closer to understanding different races and elimiating racism. Excellent film, and the cinematography of Utah scenary is truly stunning. The DVD comes in widescreen and fullscreen and has some nice authentic interviews. A classic.
A favourite 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, Amazon.com