More About The Searchers
A classic Western regarded by many as the best of the genre, John Ford's THE SEARCHERS has been acknowledged by several directors who came into their own in the 1970s, including Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Paul Schrader, and George Lucas, as a powerful influence on their work. The film stars John Wayne as Ethan Edwards, a case-hardened Civil War veteran returning to his brother Aaron's (Walter Coy) Texas home in 1868. When Rev. Samuel Johnson Clayton (Ward Bond) arrives to raise a posse to run down the Comanche who have stolen the cattle of neighbor Lars Jorgenson (John Qualen), Ethan is among those who join him. They return to find the Edwards family slaughtered and the two girls, Lucy (Pippa Scott) and Debbie (Natalie Wood), missing. The posse continues to search for the girls but turns back as winter settles in. However, Ethan and his reluctantly accepted companion, Martin Pawley (Jeffrey Hunter), the girls' part-Cherokee stepbrother, press on for another seven years, with the Indian-hating veteran becoming ever more fanatical as the hard seasons pass. In his epic meditation on racism, obsession, paranoia, and the myth of the West, Ford explores the ugly underside of a genre that he had imbued with optimism in his early career. Wayne gives perhaps his most powerful performance as the embittered Edwards, but it's the visual poetry of what are possibly Ford's most carefully framed, lit, and composed images that shape this masterwork from beginning to end. As Wayne walks through the doorway at the film's end, he grabs his elbow in a tribute to his and Ford's close friend Harry Carey Sr., a Western film icon who had passed away a few years before.
Main Cast & Crew
John Ford - Director
Harry Carey Jr.
An embittered frontiersman engages in an extensive and obsessive search for his niece, abducted years ago by Indians who killed her family in retaliation for a massacre in their village.
THE SEARCHERS was an original selection to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1989. Color by Technicolor; filmed in VistaVision. The song "The Searchers" composed by Stan Jones. Lana Wood, who plays Debbie Edwards as a little girl, is the younger sister of actress Natalie Wood.
"...Heads many a list of all-time cinematic favorites....Stunning..." - 05/14/1993 New York Times, p.C28
"...An audience favorite from the beginning -- and a creative influence on a generation of filmmakers..." - 09/25/1998 USA Today, p.7E
"...THE SEARCHERS contains scenes of magnificence, and one of John Wayne's best performances. There are shots that are astonishingly beautiful..." - 11/25/2001 Chicago Sun-Times, p.4
"...A masterpiece..." - 11/01/2000 Total Film, p.106
"...The Western that bowled over a generation of film schoolers, from Lucas to Scorsese to Spielberg..." - 01/11/2002 Entertainment Weekly, p.30
4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]ender and insightful. It will cut you up." - 07/01/2006 Total Film, p.121
5 stars out of 5 -- "Ford's picture is relentlessly unpretentious; tackling Big Themes without neon-slicking them or telling us what to think." - 07/01/2006 Total Film, p.122
5 stars out of 5 -- "It's a thoughtful, and rather dark piece....Ford used Monument Valley as a canvas for the breathtaking photography." - 07/01/2006 Ultimate DVD, p.117