Thursday, March 15, 2012
The Searchers [Blu-ray]
Number 95 on the AFI List of the 100 Best American Films in 1998, number 12 (!) when they redid the list in 2007!
The Searchers is a 1956 American Western film directed by John Ford, based on the 1954 novel by Alan Le May, and set during the Texas–Indian Wars. The picture stars John Wayne as a middle-aged Civil War veteran who spends years looking for his abducted niece (Natalie Wood), along with Jeffrey Hunter as his adoptive nephew, who accompanies him.
The film was a commercial success, although it received no Academy Award nominations. It was named the Greatest American Western of all time by the American Film Institute in 2008, and it placed 12th on the American Film Institute's 2007 list of the Top 100 greatest movies of all time.
* John Wayne as Ethan Edwards
* Jeffrey Hunter as Martin Pawley
* Vera Miles as Laurie Jorgensen
* Ward Bond as Rev. Capt. Samuel Johnson Clayton
* Natalie Wood as Debbie Edwards (older)
* John Qualen as Lars Jorgensen
* Olive Carey as Mrs. Jorgensen
* Henry Brandon as Chief Cicatriz (Scar)
* Ken Curtis as Charlie McCorry
* Harry Carey, Jr. as Brad Jorgensen
* Antonio Moreno as Emilio Figueroa
* Hank Worden as Mose Harper
* Beulah Archuletta as Wild Goose Flying in the Night Sky (Look)
* Walter Coy as Aaron Edwards
* Dorothy Jordan as Martha Edwards
* Pippa Scott as Lucy Edwards
* Patrick Wayne as Lt. Greenhill
* Lana Wood as Debbie Edwards (young)
The Searchers was the first production from "distinguished turfman" C.V. Whitney; it was directed by John Ford, and distributed by Warner Brothers. While the film was primarily set in the staked plains (Llano Estacado) of Northwest Texas, it was actually filmed in Monument Valley, Arizona/Utah. Additional scenes were filmed in Mexican Hat, Utah, in Bronson Canyon in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, and in Alberta, Canada. The film was shot in the VistaVision widescreen process. Ford originally wanted to cast Fess Parker, whose performance as Davy Crockett on television had helped spark a national craze, in the Jeffrey Hunter role, but Walt Disney, to whom Parker was under contract, refused to allow it, according to Parker's videotaped interview for the Archive of American Television. Parker notes that this was by far his single worst career reversal.
The Searchers is the first of only three films produced by Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney's C. V. Whitney Pictures; the second being The Missouri Traveler in 1958 with Brandon De Wilde and Lee Marvin, the last being The Young Land in 1959 with Patrick Wayne and Dennis Hopper.
In 1989, The Searchers was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress, and selected for preservation in its National Film Registry. The Searchers has been cited as one of the greatest films of all time, such as in a Sight and Sound poll of the greatest films ever made. In 1972, The Searchers was ranked 18th; in 1992, fifth; in 2002, 11th. The 2007 American Film Institute 100 Greatest American Films list ranked The Searchers in 12th place. In 2008, the American Film Institute named The Searchers as the greatest Western of all time. In 2010, Richard Corliss noted the film was "now widely regarded as the greatest western of the 1950s, the genre's greatest decade" and characterized it as a "darkly profound study of obsession, racism and heroic solitude."