The Searchers (1956)
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Directed by: John Ford
Starring: John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Natalie Wood, Ward Bond, Vera Miles
The Searchers ranked # 96 on the American Film Institute's Top 100 American Films list.
The Searchers is a 1956 epic Western film directed by John Ford, which tells the story of Ethan Edwards, a bitter, middle-aged loner played by John Wayne, who spends years looking for his abducted niece. The movie was adapted by Frank S. Nugent from the novel by Alan Le May. It is a very influential film, inspiring other westerns as well as dramas, science fiction, and even Bollywood films.
Much of it was filmed in Monument Valley, Arizona. Additional scenes were filmed in Mexican Hat, Utah, and in Bronson Canyon in Griffith Park, Los Angeles.
The film was shot in the VistaVision widescreen process.
The movie is often said to have been inspired by the kidnapping of nine-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker on May 19, 1836 by a large force of Comanche warriors who raided her family's home at Fort Parker.
She was "rescued" twenty-five years later, also by Texas Rangers. Unlike her brother, who was ransomed, Cynthia Ann lived with and married into the tribe. Unlike the movie, where the girl is glad to be rescued in the end, Cynthia Ann Parker's "rescue" was horrific for her and her family. She had married Peta Nocona, who, like Scar in the movie, was a war chief of the Comanche, and the two eventually had two sons, Quanah Parker and Pecos, and a daughter, Topsannah, who was taken back to white society with her.
The Searchers can be viewed as a simplistic action story about two men's hunt for Debbie and revenge for the death of their family, but this would neglect both its humor and its subtle explorations of masculinity and racism.
The Searchers conforms to the codes and conventions of a Western, with the desert landscape, small close-knit community and also the point that cowboys live in an age that, whether good or bad, one follows a strict code of honor in which one always tells the truth, never cheats an honest fellow, and tip a hat to the ladies. This film deals with themes that include racism, individuality, the American character, and the opposition between civilization and the untamed wilderness.
Top 100 Greatest Films - AFI 100 - DVDs
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