The Searchers (1956) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
|There's no nudity in this 1956 John Ford Western, but it bears some scrutiny from us, since it has now been mastered to DVD in a widescreen edition, with some special features.|
many people considered John Ford over-the-hill in 1956, and this film was
not taken seriously for Oscar consideration, it is now considered a
work of lasting genius. IMDb members rate it in the top 150 films ever
made, many consider it better than Ford's 1939 "Stagecoach", and no less
an authority than Steven Spielberg claims it is the single best movie
he has ever seen.
(Orson Welles also claimed that Ford was the supreme director.)
|The plot: John Wayne
leads a party of men who try to recapture The Duke's niece from the
Comanches. Jeffrey Hunter plays the girl's stepbrother, and was the
minimal excuse for a romantic heartthrob.
I don't know if the film is as great as so many people have claimed.
So I don't think you'll watch the movie and be totally blown away. But, damn, what visuals! The images will make you forget everything else. If you love cinematography, this is your Western. It is "Lawrence of America". Wayne and Hunter chase those renegade Comanches for five years, through Monument Valley, and through some blizzards in open plains. The shots are spectacular, from the fight scenes, to the buffalo stampede, to the long shots of the valley, to the famous doorway framing shots that begin and end the film.
These pictures (thumbnails leading to somewhat larger captures) demonstrate the beauty of the widescreen version much better than I could.
|I like the movie, but most people seem
to like it more than I do.
I don't think you can rate this movie with Stagecoach or with Clint Eastwood's two great Westerns (The Outlaw Josie Wales and Unforgiven), but it may have the single most spectacular visuals of any Western, and it has a complex morality that is far more sophisticated than the black-and-white simplicity of most 1950's movies.
The IMDB voters rank the Westerns as follows:
My own top 15 personal list would probably include those if I had seen them all (I can't include Red River, because I don't think I've seen it), plus The Outlaw Josey Wales, Destry Rides Again, Lonely are the Brave, and Blazing Saddles. If I did the list, The Outlaw Josie Wales would be very close to the top, if not at the top.
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