The 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.