The Searchers

D: John Ford
Warner Bros. (Merian C. Cooper & C.V. Whitney)
US 1956
119 mins


W: Frank S. Nugent [based on the novel by Alan LeMay]
DP: Winton C. Hoch
Ed: Jack Murray
Mus: Max Steiner

John Wayne (Ethan Edwards), Jeffrey Hunter (Martin Pawley), Vera Miles (Laurie Jorgensen), Ward Bond (Rev. Samuel Clayton), Natalie Wood (Debbie Edwards), John Qualen (Lars Jorgensen), Olive Carey (Mrs. Jorgensen)

Though this 1956 John Wayne classic has proved to be a highly influential film and amongst the favourite movies of several filmmakers (Steven Spielberg included), it isn't necessarily a classic of the western genre and isn't a particularly enjoyable film to watch.
John Ford's film is more a character study against a western setting, with the Duke performing his most multi-layered role as a civil war soldier, returning home to his brother carrying a huge prejudice against the Cherokee tribes. When his brother's family is murdered and niece captured by one of these tribes, he swears revenge and goes in search for those responsible for the abduction.
On the face of it, it's a rather basic Cowboys and Indians revenge tale, but it's only when you scratch beneath the surface that you truly appreciate it for what it truly is. Even the reasons behind John Wayne's characters hatred is explained in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it piece of mis-en-scene. 
It's a film you certainly need to be in the mood for, but has to be categorised as one of the best films of the 1950's, if not all time.

The Searchers
The Searchers