The Searchers

TheSearchersThe Searchers (1956) is one of many classic pairings between The Duke and director John Ford.

This film is downright gorgeous.

And downright ugly

There’s a hardness in John Wayne’s character, Ethan Edwards, that I haven’t seen in a lot of his other westerns.  It’s a nice change of pace from the silliness of, say, Big Jake or True Grit (yeah, I know I’m gonna hear about this – but I calls ’em as I sees ’em!)

This goes in stark contrast to some of the most breathtaking scenery – filmed in glorious, wide-screen, Technicolor long shots – that’s ever been captured on film, and it makes for a very interesting movie.

This film also removes any doubt about John Wayne’s acting abilities.  (He’s sometimes criticized as “playing himself”.)  There’s a scene in which Ethan breaks from his search party to investigate what lies beyond a certain hill.  When he returns he’s a different man.  Gone is the tough, quiet confidence.  Instead we see a man who’s dazed, afraid, and torn apart inside – and the entire sequence is played to perfection by The Duke.

Also worthy of note is John Ford’s subtlety.  He lets us use our imagination for many of the more intense scenes in this film – which only serves to make those scenes all the more intense.  A very nice touch!

While I’m not a big fan of westerns in general, I’m happy to say this one was well worth seeing.  I recommend you see it as well.

2 thoughts on “The Searchers

  1. Probably the Duke’s finest hour. Watch this, SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON or RED RIVER and if you still say John Wayne can’t act, then nothing would ever convince you. So glad he won for TRUE GRIT, one of his best portryals ever. For those who think Jeff Bridges did a better job, watch again. Bridges is every bit as over the top as Wayne. I happen to think both films are terrific, and both Wayne and Bridges equally great. I give a slight nod to the original becuase it was first. BIG JAKE rules. Always did and always will. Dialogue from the same screen writers as DIRTY HARRY and I can see Inspector Callahan uttering some of the Jacob McCandles does in the movie. Glad you had an open mind on THE SEARCHERS. Well done.

  2. I’ll have to check out the other two you mentioned, if they’re anywhere near as good as this one, they’ll be well worth my time! The Duke’s performance here was what I’d like to call “simmering”. Outwardly fairly calm, yet a lot going on under the surface. I thought his acting in the scene I referenced was downright amazing…

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