Monday, 18 November 2013

THE SEARCHERS (1956) WEB SITE


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  • Production Credits

  • Director - John Ford
  • Screenplay - Frank S. Nugent
  • Source Material (from novel) - Alan LeMay
  • Executive Producer - Merian C. Cooper
  • Associate Producer - Patrick Ford
  • Assistant Director - Wingate Smith
  • Director of Photography - Winton C. Hoch
  • Editor - Jack Murray
  • Music - Max Steiner
  • Song - Stan Jones

 Credits

  • John Wayne - Ethan Edwards
  • Jeffrey Hunter - Martin Pawley
  • Vera Miles - Laurie Jorgensen
  • Ward Bond - Captain Reverend Clayton
  • Natalie Wood - Debbie Edwards
  • John Qualen - Lars Jorgensen
  • Olive Carey - Mrs Jorgensen
  • Henry Brandon - Chief Scar
  • Ken Curtis - Charlie McCorry
  • Harry Carey Jr. - Brad Jorgensen
  • Antonio Moreno - Emilio Figueroa
  • Patrick Wayne - Lieutenant Greenhill
  • Hank Worden - Mose Harper
  • Lana Wood - Debbie Edwards--as a Child
  • Walter Coy - Aaron Edwards
  • Dorothy Jordan - Martha Edwards
  • Pippa Scott - Lucy Edwards
  • Beulah Archuletta - Look
  • Jack Pennick - Private
  • Peter Mamakos - Futterman
  • Bill Steele - Nesby

Awards

Win
  • 100 Greatest American Movies - 1998 American Film Institute
  • U.S. National Film Registry - 1988 Library of Congress
Nomination
  • Best Director - John Ford - 1956 Directors Guild of America
  • -----------------------------------------

If John Wayne was ever cornered about what his favorite movie role was he'd be answering Ethan Edwards in The Searchers. Proof of that is obvious, he named his son by his third marriage John Ethan Wayne. 

Ethan Edwards takes his time in returning home to Texas from the Civil War to the home of his brother and his family. But soon after he does the family is massacred in an Indian raid. The two young daughters are taken prisoner and Wayne with Jeffrey Hunter and Harry Carey, Jr. go off in search of them. Carey is killed early on, but Wayne and Hunter go on for years, both driven men for different reasons.

Ethan Edwards is probably the most racist man Wayne ever portrayed on the screen, yet we feel sympathy for him at the same time. It's been a hard and bitter life on the frontier for him. Just as it's been for the Indians as well. Chief Scar, played by Henry Brandon, is Wayne's opposite number and he makes clear what he thinks of whites. Two of his sons were killed and he's going to take many white scalps in reprisal. 

My guess is that Ethan Edwards war service involved him seeing the war of desolation waged by William T. Sherman in the deep South. Small wonder he goes out and starts killing buffalo with a maniacal intensity that Wayne never showed before or since in film. Not an aspect that is normally brought out by reviewers.

Wayne's relationship with Jeffrey Hunter is a strange one. He found Hunter as a toddler during a raid on a wagon train. Hunter is a distant cousin of the Edwards family and one eighth Cherokee. But to Wayne he's an Indian. He gains a grudging respect for him on the trail though. 

But Hunter's there to stop him. The oldest Edwards daughter is discovered dead early on. That by the way is an intense scene where Wayne's facial expressions register more than pages of dialog. Wayne had one of the great faces for close-ups and John Ford well knew it.

The younger daughter has grown up and is played grown up by Natalie Wood. Wayne feels he has to avenge some family code of honor because Wood's been taken as a bride by Henry Brandon. Hunter just wants his cousin back on any terms. 

John Ford as he always does, gets some good comedy relief of the broad kind in the film. Jeffrey Hunter and Vera Miles who is Harry Carey's sister have a thing going, but when she doesn't hear from him she almost ups and marries Ken Curtis. Hunter and Curtis's confrontation is pretty funny.

Ford also probably made his best use of Monument Valley in this film. Though Stagecoach and Fort Apache are also among his best photographed films, The Searchers being in color is in a class by itself. Proof of that is the scene at the Edwards home at twilight just before the Indian raid. Beautiful and terrifying at the same time.

Ward Bond has a great role as Reverend/Captain Samuel Clayton, parson and Texas Ranger at the same time. A difficult job for some to reconcile, but I'm sure Bond believes that conversion of the Indians is not uppermost on his mind. Bond also has some great blustering comic moments with Patrick Wayne who plays an earnest young army lieutenant.

The Searchers is usually found on just about every top ten list of best westerns ever made and it surely belongs there.



CRITICA EN EN PERIODICO "LA VANGUARDIA" (18-6-1961)
Centauros del desierto, es el relato de una persecución, pero de una persecución que dura cerca de seis años, y que es mantenida por dos rudos téjanos con el tesón , vibración irritada y la ferocidad que caracterizaba a los hombres de aquella tierra, en los años en que la vida en el Oeste era jugárselo todo a cara o cruz. John Ford es el realizador de este "Western" recio, emotivo y patético a través del cual se nos ofrece una elocuente lección de psicología sobre él carácter de los primeros pobladores blancos de Texas. Los téjanos, viene a decir Ford en este film, eran estonces asín de obstinados, de persistentes, e incluso de crueles. En efecto confinados en medio de una naturaleza inhóspita, que ignoraba otro medio de supervivencia que no fuese la lucha contra los indios, contra la aridez, contra las plagas, contra la soledad el tejano se nos aparece casi como un hombre de la mitología. El escenario en la que tuvieron que desenvolverse los primeros téjanos blancos, un desierto trágico, de desoladora grandeza, con rocas y picachos de aspecto fantasmal, de los que el film nos ofrece fotogramas magníficos, tenía también mucho de fabuloso. John Ford ha realizado un "western" que nos recuerda "La Diligencia", aquella magistral creación de sus jóvenes años, pero sin aportar nada nuevo. La película, es grandiosa y fuerte, pero sin esa palpitación inesperada y emocionante de la originalidad. En lo que tiene de trama novelesca, "Centauros del Desierto" nos parece un relato de Jack London. Los personajes principales son, en realidad, dos, lo qué permite concentrar la acción durante la mayor parte del film. El numeroso grupo de personajes secundarios, indispensables siempre al "western", hay algunos tipos realmente pintorescos, y no escasean los rasgos de humor con los que John Ford ha aligerado en, lo posible él soplo trágico que anima la película. La trama se centra en la eterna lucha que desolaba entonces; Texas, entre indios y blancos. Los "comanches", en una de sus "razzias", crueles, destruyen un rancho y asesinan con su frialdad y ferocidad características a sus moradores. Pero se llevan con ellos al único superviviente: una niña de cinco a seis años. Para rescatar a esta criatura y ejercer contra los "comanches" una implacable acción reivindicativa, los dos protagonistas de la historia recorrerán el desierto durante cerca de seis años, John Wayne encarna el personaje principal con su vigor y prestancia habituales. Es un tipo insustituible para el "western". El joven actor Jefrey Hunter realiza una labor excepcionalmente inteligente en la creación de un tipo más complicado y difícil. Las actrices Natalie Wood y Vera Miles desempeñan papeles importantes, pero de poca duración.-A MARTINEZ TOMAS