Thursday, December 12, 2013

#tbt The Searchers review

This film stars John Wayne. The movie star, not the notorious and horrifying serial killer. Just wanted to clear that up.
As many of you guys may know, I'm focusing mostly on watching and reviewing westerns this month as part of a project to really understand the genre. I started by watching High Noon (which I thought was very overrated, but not that bad), and then proceeded to watch John Ford's 1956 classic, The Searchers. Let's juts say this movie has earned it's 100% Rotten Tomatoes score. The plot of the film is that a group of Comanche Native Americans murder almost an entire family but kidnap the youngest daughter. Civil war veteran Ethan Edwards (John Wayne), was the brother of the man whose family was killed. So Edwards and his adopted nephew, Martin Pawley (Jeffrey Hunter), go off  in search of the missing girl. I have mentioned, in some of my other reviews, that westerns seem to have fallen out of favor in the past few decades. I can only think of about three great ones that came out in the 2000's, and two of them are remakes. Yes, I think it's fair to say that the western genre is endangered. It truly is a shame though, because the western was a once great genre. The Searchers is proof of that. The whole movie is just fantastic. It's an epic, mixed with a revenge flick, with a little bit of buddy movie thrown in there. And it's incredibly watchable. I never thought of John Wayne as a "good" actor. He always seemed to play the same character, and just never wowed me.Even most of the stuff I saw him in was just alright. I felt that the supposedly great Rio Bravo was a fairly unoriginal movie with a mediocre performance by Wayne. I can't say the same for The Searchers. His performance here is the best I've seen of him yet. Especially one of the last scenes he really displays some acting prowess. I won't ruin it for you though. Just see the movie. There's a common misconception that old films are boring, stuffy, and irrelevant. I won't lie, I once thought the same thing. There are many great oldies out there, The Searchers being one of them. The last 10 minutes are some of the coolest and more exciting sequences in film history. It involves John Wayne's character and a whole bunch of cavalry dudes charging a Comanche camp and it's pure awesome. I'm sure many movies have been inspired by this. It's not just a straight western either, it goes deeper than that. Ethan Edwards is very cautious and prejudice against Comanches, partially stemming from his experiences in the war and partially just from the mindset of the time. His partner and adopted nephew, Martin, is part Comanche. This proves to be a big problem for Ethan  throughout the movie. The fact that his niece has been kidnapped by people of that race doesn't help him at all. At one point he learns that Debbie, his niece, has lived with the Native Americans so long that she has begun to accept them as her people and live like them. This angers him so much to the point where he wants to murder his own niece. The transformation he undergoes is pretty astounding, and Wayne does it terrifically. I have no idea why this film received no accolades at all, especially for John Wayne's performance. My only problem with The Searchers is that it drags occasionally, especially in the middle of the movie. Otherwise it really is a damn good western. If you haven't seen it, even if you don't like westerns in particular, you really should. It's a well done movie that I wouldn't hesitate to watch again. Happy Viewing y'all. Remember you can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at        

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