A favorite film of some of the world's greatest filmmakers, including Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, John Ford's The Searchers has earned its place in the legacy of great American films for a variety of reasons. Perhaps most notably, it's the definitive role for John Wayne as an icon of the classic Western--the hero (or antihero) who must stand alone according to the unwritten code of the West. The story takes place in Texas in 1868; Wayne plays Ethan Edwards, a Confederate veteran who visits his brother and sister-in-law at their ranch and is horrified when they are killed by marauding Comanches. Ethan's search for a surviving niece (played by young Natalie Wood) becomes an all-consuming obsession. With the help of a family friend (Jeffrey Hunter) who is himself part Cherokee, Ethan hits the trail on a five-year quest for revenge. At the peak of his masterful talent, director Ford crafts this classic tale as an embittered examination of racism and blind hatred, provoking Wayne to give one of the best performances of his career. As with many of Ford's classic Westerns, The Searchers must contend with revisionism in its stereotypical treatment of "savage" Native Americans, and the film's visual beauty (the final shot is one of the great images in all of Western culture) is compromised by some uneven performances and stilted dialogue. Still, this is undeniably one of the greatest Westerns ever made. --Jeff Shannon
Working together for the 12th time, John Wayne and director John Ford forged The Searchers into a landmark Western offering an indelible image of the frontier and the men and women who challenged it. Wayne plays an ex-Confederate soldier seeking his niece, captured by Comanches who massacred his family. He won't surrender to hunger, thirst, the elements or loneliness. And in his five-year search, he encounters something unexpected: his own humanity. Beautifully shot by Winton C. Hoch, thrillingly scored by Max Steiner and memorably acted by a wonderful ensemble including Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles, Natalie Wood and Ward Bond, The Searchers endures as "a great film of enormous scope and breathtaking physical beauty" (Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic).
Audio Commentary:Commentary by Peter Bogdanovich
Documentaries:Behind the Cameras (4-parts): Meet Jeffrey Hunter, Monument Valley, Meet Natalie Wood, Setting Up Production
Documentary:The Searchers: An Appreciation
Featurette:A Turning of the Earth: John Ford, John Wayne, and the Searchers
Introduction:Intro by Patrick Wayne
Theatrical Trailer:Theatrical Trailer The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford