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- John Wayne Little Celebrated, but Wonderful Film!!
I Love this Movie. It's my favorite John Wayne ovie. My Dad loves John Wayne and I watched this with him this year. I had to buy it immediately. Great story line, not all guns blazing. Fully developed characters and some humor as well. Can't miss with this one. ...more info
- Wayne and Ford
Probably the Duke's greatest film. A large scale epic of a quest by Ford with Wayne tracking his lost niece -- after Indians raid her home and kill her family. Aided by Jeffrey Hunter, this a truly monumental motion picture and not simply one of the greatest westerns ever made. Wayne's character is a man who truly loses everything -- best exemplified by the final scene....more info
- Perfect retouching for a classic!
This classic came up alive and flawless after Blu-Ray technology. A must buy for the fans!...more info
What a beautiful restoration of a classic American film. What the Blu-Ray format is doing for classic films like this is not just visually jaw-dropping but important preservationist work! The price for this Blu-Ray is a steal. Those, including me, who have disparged John Wayne's acting will eat their words after viewing "The Searchers." No wonder this film is mandatory viewing in many film study classes....more info
- Pleasantly Surprised
I've avoided this movie for years, but I was plasantly surprised when I finally viewed it. Most people talk about the complexity of John Wayne's character, but I disagree. I feel he wasn't complex at all.... just a cut and dried racist. Near the end of the movie he did become a little complex, but I think it was just a matter of conscience. What I really liked about the movie was the storyline and the scenery. ONe of my favorite movies is The Color Purple and there were scenes in The Searchers that I'm almost certain Speilberg had to have copied for the Color Purple. Especially the shot of the family on the porch at the beginning of the movie. It was so reminiscent of one of the final scenes in the Color Purple. ...more info
- Warrior Ethic
I have viewed this movie many times and each time I come away from it a little richer. I recently watched an 'American Masters' biography of John Ford and the narrator gave the most exact description of the Ethan Edwards character that I think can be given: 'he was the kind of man that civilization must have but also the kind that can never live in civilization'.
Society has always been faced with the need to decide whether or not it will acknowledge the honor that men like Ethan Edwards have earned. Sadly, for the past 40 years, we have been drifting away from them, preferring to think that our own politically correct 'moral rectitude' contains a self-defending mechanism. People who support this view are frequently heard warning us 'not to become like our enemies'. First and foremost, this is shameful because it necessarily devalues the sacrifice of the warrior. But it is also foolish. At some point our decadent society will need an Ethan Edwards for its very survival. The question remains as to whether we will then find him from within our midst....more info
- Old time favorite
Glad that I was able to purchase this movie, adding it to my cowboy collection....more info
- Great Wayne
Wayne at his greatest in this Ford directed epic. Get goosebumps every time I watch it. A must for western fans....more info
- Not Perfect But Still A Classic
A sure sign of "The Searchers'" greatness is the array of thoughtful comments here. It is complex, and enigmatic, enough to inspire widely differing views, and the substantive reviews add welcome insights. It is among the greatest Westerns, and the primal AntiWestern; Ford and Wayne's supreme collaboration; and the first half, through the winter homecoming scene, is simply as good as filmmaking gets. (Monument Valley deserves a special Supporting Oscar; such astonishing vistas transcend mere backdrop.) John Wayne is at his peak, though "True Grit," "Shootist" and "Stagecoach" rival this among his best. It is not uniformly brilliant; as many note, the second half drags with a romantic subplot and is no longer very funny. But these scenes reflect Ford's conception of community; its very mundaneness highlights outcast Ethan's problematic character. As a product of its time we may deplore its racial and gender stereotyping; these aspects do not date well and keep it from being in the same class as, say "Seven Samurai" which eternally satisfies on all levels. It's still a remarkable realization of a filmmaker's vision. John Ford's best works often have a core scene which, sans dialogue and solely through visual/musical imagery, sums up the whole film while saying something profound about the human condition. In both "Grapes of Wrath" and "Searchers" these miniatures come near the start and are absolute gems. With so much to absorb, repeat viewings help to grasp its depth; critics in the 1950s clearly missed a lot. But enough profundity! An entertaining film and a great way to spend an evening....more info
- Moving listings - general
As a HOH (Hard of Hearing) Individual, I need to know if this
movie is captioned (marked "CC" or "Q."...more info
- The Searchers
I LOVE John Wayne! This wasn't my favorite movie of his, but was good none the less. I enjoy the action and some comedy of his....more info
- Essential Cinema
Monument Valley rarely looked better in this VistaVision restoration of John Ford's disturbing Western epic. Though not without its minor flaws, "The Searchers" (1956) is propelled by John Wayne's ambiguous, complex performance as the embittered Ethan Edwards - his best work for the legendary director. The Ford stock company acquits itself admirably. Winton C. Hoch's cinematography deserved an Oscar for this powerful and remarkably influential film....more info
- A Blu-ray demo disk you /have/ to own.
The image quality of "The Searchers" is nothing short of startling. We'll get to that after I've lit into the film. Yes, I'm going to tear to pieces what is generaly considered one of /the/ great American films, and (by many people) the best Western ever made.
John Ford was a great director, but I've never cared much for his Westerns. Maybe I'm tired of seeing Ward Bond play the same role again and again. Or perhaps it's just that I don't care for John Wayne, who is hardly my model of ideal manliness. (Jimmy Stewart was ten times the man John Wayne was.)
"The Searchers" has two major problems, neither of which -- as far as I know -- has ever been pointed out. (After writing this, I browsed the Amazon reviews and found that other people have almost-identical reservations.) They render it a far poorer film than it could or should have been.
The first is that it tries to tell two stories that have little to do with each other, and fail to mesh in any meaningful way. The primary story is Ethan and Martin's five-year search for Ethan's kidnapped niece. This is intercut with the broadly comic narrative of Laurie's frustration at trying to get Martin to come back and marry her. (Note Ken Curtis, later Festus on "Gunsmoke", as her dorky, guitar-strumming suitor.)
It doesn't work. The search is morbidly dark, while Laurie's plight is silly beyond belief. Any possibility of dramatic unity -- this is, after all, a serious film about a serious subject -- is destroyed. (Aristotle would have heartily agreed.)
Which brings us to the other problem. John Wayne was no actor. He was more than a decade from reaching the point where he could turn in a credible/creditable performance (Rooster Cogburn in "True Grit", for which he won an undeserved Oscar). In "The Searchers" he is still John Wayne, with a limited performance range that doesn't extend beyond what John Wayne, the man, is capable of.
True, Wayne had a difficult job for any actor -- he had convey his hatred of Indians and desire to kill Debbie for 99% of the film -- then abruptly change his mind. The problem is that we see no motivation for the change. He picks her up, she looks frightened (she knows what he intends), and then, out of nowhere, "Let's go home, Debbie." *
It just isn't believable. Ford should have shown us John Wayne's face, so that we could have gotten /some/ idea of what was going through his mind. Why he doesn't is anyone's guess. Did he think Wayne was incapable of believably revealing his change of heart? Or did it never cross Ford's mind? Regardless, the film lands with a dramatic "thud" -- Something Important happens, but we don't have the least idea /why/. The moment the story is building up to /never occurs/.
"The Searchers" would have worked far better if it had stuck with the search, and ignored just about everything else. Yes, it would have been an even darker film, but it would have packed a far stronger punch.
So why do people hold "The Searchers" in such high esteem? The reason appears to be that it was one of the first "deconstuctionist" Westerns. ** Ethan Edwards is bluntly racist, and is determined to find his niece so he can kill her. She's been polluted by her five-year contact with the "Comanch", and his no longer a "white" woman. *** She'd be better off dead, and Ethan is the man to do it. But however awful the Indians' behavior is, we are not on Ethan's side. Our broad sympathies lie with the Indians, not the Americans. ****
Unfortunately, "The Searchers" doesn't achieve what it sets out to do. It's all hat and no cattle. You don't get points for trying to be profound -- you actually have to achieve it. In this, "The Searchers" fails quite badly. It's easy to imagine a remake that's far superior to the original.
As for the transfer... Oh... my... God... I couldn't believe it. It appears to have been derived from the VistaVision camera negatives. I have never seen a more exquisitely sharp and detailed video image (and with zero apparent edge enhancement). Ford's use of multiple image planes, some in-focus, the others out -- is clearly displayed. *****
Please note that in the supplemental material, someone describes "The Searchers" as having been filmed in three-strip Technicolor, which it almost certainly wasn't. And Martin Scorsese avers that VistaVision has greater depth of field than conventional 35mm movies. Wrong -- it has less. (It's hard to understand how someone who's been making films for four decades doesn't understand Photography 101.)
If you're a fan of "The Searchers", do yourself a favor and get the Blu-ray. Even if you don't care for the film, buy it anyhow. It's a great demo disk. This was a film /made/ for VistaVision ("Motion Picture High Fidelity") -- the scenery alone is worth the price of admission.
* One critic suggested that it's touching Debbie that causes his transformation. He can't bring himself to kill the flesh-and-blood being he knew as a child.
** It also appears to be one of the first to make a stab at proper cowboy attire. Note the dusters on several characters.
*** Another minor problem... Kidnapped whites almost always preferred living with the Indians. Debbie's willingness to return is not implausible, but it is unlikely.
**** According to the supplemental material, "The Searchers" was the first Western to show a lot of dead Indians lying around after having been massacred by whites.
***** This is common in Ford's films. Did it have anything to his being blind in one eye?...more info
- The Taj Mahal of Westerns
Sheer genius. One of the greatest American movies of all time. Ford was never better, Wayne was never better. Brilliantly book-ended w/ stunning shots of Monument Valley through the front door. An absolute must-see for any serious movie watcher. This is one of the half dozen or so greatest movies I've ever seen and I've seen alot. It's certainly not PC, but it rings true. Check out this masterpiece. It gets better w/ repeated viewings.........more info
- the silhouette of a woman
The first image in The Searches is the silhouette of a woman who is standing in the cool, dark doorway of a frontier cabin and looking out into the searing heat and sun of the desert. As she stoically waits, a man rides up, wearily dismounts, and walks slowly toward her. We are in John Ford country, and all the elements are there. Pictorially, it is a scene of stark contrasts, light in conflict with dark, interior pitted against exterior, the figures sharply etched in their solitude, the implacable outlines of a harsh environment looming behind them. The people are dramatic, larger than life, and what happens to them has the force and fatality of history recorded on the screen...more info
- Ride away
He stands in the doorway because he is the typical Ford hero. He is a wanderer and outsider who serves a society he cannot himself live in. He respects the values of that society, the domestic virtues of home and community, but he is driven by a higher call to duty. He is independent, self-reliant, more physical than intellectual, expresses himself more through gestures than words, and is not afraid to use violence when it is required. He drinks hard, fights hard, lives hard, and remains always alone. Living outside the law of society, he embodies the spirit of that law by adhering to a strict personal code of moral behavior and an almost religious respect for ritual and honor. He is an ordinary human being raised to the stature of hero through his courageous acceptance of a situation that he cannot, as a self-respecting man, avoid. He usually dies. He is almost always defeated. But the proof of his heroism is his private victory in the face of defeat....more info
- Enjoyable Western! Great Background Scenery! Bad DVD Version!
This is a very enjoyable Western because it has the essential elements of great leading man, John Wayne, and great genre director, John Ford. Jeffery Hunter was also very good here although my all-time favourite role of his comes much later and just before his untimely death as Capt. Christopher Pike of the Starship Enterprise. I have always thought that of all the captains of the Enterprise, although his tenure was the briefest, he was the best actor of the lot.
This film though has one of the most breathtaking scenery ever and makes full use of the colour medium to produce optimal results. Monument Valley was an inspired locale to shoot this film and although the screenplay isn't the best with some awkward moments especially in the clumsy attempts at interjecting humour at various points that just didn't quite take, this is more than made up for with great camera work and great acting. John Wayne is very convincing as a bigoted and racist bitter Confederate soldier who takes surrender and losing very hard who over the course of the film learns from Jeffery Hunter and his own observations to change his world view and becomes compassionate and less bigoted in the end.
Overall, this is still although not a perfect picture a very, very good representative of the Western genre and like a true classic bears up well to repeated viewing.
The only problem is with this version of the DVD which is very shabbily put together and is very poor. The picture quality is terrible having not been restored and white spots and other imperfections abound on both sides i.e. Standard and pseudo-Widescreen versions although the few short documentaries on the bonus features were okay. The only redeeming factor which warrants 2 stars is the excellent sound quality that comes in Dolby Digital and is clear and at a nice consistent volume level throughout. Certainly one of the best dvds of an older film sound quality wise that I've seen.
I notice that a Blu-ray version of this film has been released and as I haven't seen it, I hope that that version would have addressed the issues I brought up above. My recommendation is to give this version a miss and check out the hopefully vastly improved picture quality of the Blu-ray version or wait for a much better improved standard version with a properly done widescreen format to become available. Just give this dvd version a very, very wide berth....more info
- The Searchers DVD version
An excellent transfer. I purchased a copy of the film on Laser Disc in the 1990s'. The DVD version is superior....more info
- Excellent quality for film of it's age
Of course the movie, The Searchers, that is one of the best of all time is a 5-star rating. While the history of this John Wayne and John Ford movie is well documented, it cannot be understated how powerful of a performance John Wayne leaves in this movie. With the well documented history of this great movie, I shall turn to this Blu-Ray edition.
I am impressed with the quality of the picture for a movie of this age. The colors are radiant and vibrant. I find the image to be sharp, and I am impressed with picture quality. Let me be clear though, this is not a perfect reproduction. For a film of it's age, should perfection of picture be expected? Upon close examination, some of the grainy/fuzziness can be discerned. It does not take away from this edition.
The audio is just ok. Not bad, not good. As noted, it is 1.0. While the audio does not stand out, I did not find the audio to detract from the movie either.
Overall, I find this Blu-Ray to be an excellent edition. I am glad that it is a part of my movie collection. ...more info
Masterpiece? This appellation should be reserved for truly supreme artistic achievements.
Psychologically complex? Compared to what?
There is a whole corral of "Classic Westerns" that, if released today, would be branded as downers and butchered. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Fort Apache, The Alamo, Duel in the Sun, How the West was Won, Red River, Stagecoach, etc.
The Searchers would be in this group. I know...most are given four stars.
There have been few truly great westerns, which distresses me, as this is my favorite genre. The 3;10 to Yuma and The Appaloosa, the contemporaneous ungulates, are poor representatives of their heritage.