AFI #12 – The Searchers

The Searchers - Movie PosterThe Searchers


Directed by John Ford

Netflix says… After his entire family is viciously wiped out, hardened war veteran Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) embarks on a long journey to find his only surviving niece, Debbie (Natalie Wood), who has been captured by hostile Comanche Indians. Director John Ford’s richly scenic Western also stars Vera Miles, Hank Worden, Ward Bond and Jeffrey Hunter, as Edwards’s riding companion, Martin Pawley.

Well, right off the bat, this movie sounds like it’s gonna be one bright ray of sunshine. The Searchers is a new one to me. I don’t often go out of my way to watch westerns, even though, more often than not, I like the ones I’ve seen. And I know a lot of people consider John Wayne to be a national treasure. But I’m pretty sure True Grit is the only one of his movies I’ve seen all the way through.

Until this one, that is.

I think I’ve figured out why I’m not the biggest fan of a western. Or, I should say, why westerns aren’t something I actively seek to watch. It’s because I get the feeling that most of them are the same. Now, you’re welcome to argue that point all you want. Though it’s not likely you’ll change my mind on it.

And when I say most of them are the same, I just mean it seems that most of them revolve around some sort of tragedy involving a violent tribe of Native Americans or some wealthy landowners or railroad barons and then some sort of lone survivor spends the rest of the movie looking for vengeance. I’m sure that’s a gross generalization, like saying every country song is about getting drunk because your girl left you alone and took the dog with her.

Look, I’m not saying this is a bad movie. I’m not saying it doesn’t deserve the number 12 spot on the AFI’s top 100. Having watched it, I don’t think it’s a bad movie at all. But it sure didn’t change the stereotype I’ve built up in my mind regarding the genre.

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