Image via WikipediaI have read in the past about how great the film "The Searchers" is and in fact, bought the 2 disk DVD when it was first released a couple of years ago. Since that time, it just sat on my shelf collecting dust. This is even though I am a huge John Wayne fan with more than 100 of his films in my collection.
I go in spurts about watching those films, sometimes not watching them for months, and then getting the urge and watching several of his films over a weekend. This is what happened this past week, as I began watching post True Grit films such as Big Jake, Chisum, and Cahill: US Marshall. It was after those films, that I thought maybe it was time to watch an older film, and I found The Searchers, still wrapped in cellophane.
From the very first minute of the film I knew I had been insane to have never watched this movie sooner. It is truly a remarkable piece of art, and now I believe it is the greatest role that John Wayne ever performed.
The cinematography is breathtaking and I'm sure at the time of it's release, when it was filmed in VistaVision, it must have been unbelievable. The intensity of the performance that John Wayne gives as Ethan is so shockingly incredible that at times you forget that it is the Duke on the screen. His character Ethan being so full of hatred and rage that you see it in every crease on his face, in his eyes, and in his voice.
I see no reason to give the plot away other than to say it is a five- year journey of searching for Debbie (Natalie Wood) who was taken by the Commanche in a raid on his brother's ranch that left everyone else tortured, raped, and murdered.
Rooster Cogburn has always been my favorite Wayne role. I have probably seen True Grit between 75-100 times. And for pure entertainment value, that is indeed a great role. The Searchers was completely overlooked by the Academy and that is a shame. Wayne's performance in this film was truly his finest and the collaboration with Director John Ford, their best.
Here is some extremely interesting trivia about The Searchers that appeared at IMDB.Com. And by the way, I just submitted this same article in the comments section at IMDB. So if you see it there, know that it came from here.
- One of the first movies to market itself with a making-of documentary aired on TV. Gig Young hosted the program, with Jeffrey Hunter as the guest.
- In the climactic scene, John Wayne and Natalie Wood run up the side of a hill in Monument Valley, Utah... and come down the other side of the hill in the Bronson Canyon area of Griffith Park, Los Angeles (647 miles away).
- Considering the part of Ethan Edwards to be the best character he ever portrayed on-screen and his favorite film role, John Wayne named a son Ethan in homage.
There is a lot more interesting bits about the film there and you can read them by visiting here.
Here is the trailer for The Searchers.