The Searchers (1956, John Ford)

So I’ve finally watched The Searchers. For a couple years I’d heard that it was one of The Greatest Films so wanted to see it badly, but then I changed my mind and decided I probably wouldn’t like it because of John Wayne, then I stewed on that for a few years until finally it sat as maybe the movie I’d been meaning to see longer than any other.

All those expectations, and I end up liking it. Worst of all, I thought John Wayne was good, damn it all.

IMDB plot summary: “Ethan Edwards, returned from the Civil War to the Texas ranch of his brother, hopes to find a home with his family and to be near the woman he obviously but secretly loves. But a Comanche raid destroys these plans, and Ethan sets out, along with his 1/8 Indian nephew Martin, on a years-long journey to find the niece kidnapped by the Indians under Chief Scar. But as the quest goes on, Martin begins to realize that his uncle’s hatred for the Indians is beginning to spill over onto his now-assimilated niece. Martin becomes uncertain whether Ethan plans to rescue Debbie…or kill her.”

Jeffrey Hunter (Jesus in King of Kings) is Wayne’s sidekick nephew and Vera Miles (psycho, the wrong man) is the nephew’s love interest. Natalie Wood and her young sister Lana play the kidnapped Debbie. John Wayne’s iconic performance in The Searchers came the same year as one of his most hated roles ever, as Genghis Khan in The Conqueror.

Very meaningful opening shot:

Horses are neat:

Hunter tries to temper Wayne’s anti-Indian rage:

Indians are neat:

Very meaningful closing shot:

So what’s the new “movie I’ve been planning to see longer than any other”?
Sunset Blvd? Weekend? Nashville? Something I started and never finished like Crumb or Night On Earth? DVDs I bought ages ago like Benjamin Smoke and Henry V? I’m gonna go with Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes.