Sergio Leone Web Board
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
October 19, 2017, 07:23:22 PM
Home Help Search Calendar Login Register
News:


+  Sergio Leone Web Board
|-+  Films of Sergio Leone
| |-+  Other Films (Moderators: cigar joe, moviesceleton, Dust Devil)
| | |-+  The Searchers (1956)
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
Pages: 1 2 [3] 4 5 ... 9 Go Down Print
Author Topic: The Searchers (1956)  (Read 31671 times)
Tim
Guest
« Reply #30 on: August 20, 2006, 11:24:55 AM »

Quote
I'd love to "Sergeant Rutledge" again, Woody Strode's the man.

  It was included in the John Ford Boxed Set, released in June, if you're dying to see it.  Personally, I'd like to buy the set, but I've only seen SR and heard good things about the others.  Guess I'll wait till that price keeps dropping.

Logged
The Peacemaker
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 5106


OH SH*T!


View Profile
« Reply #31 on: August 20, 2006, 11:44:53 AM »

If you like Strode you should probably catch "Keoma" sometime. That is probably his best performance.

He was cool in Keoma. I think that might be Nero's best performance as well.

Logged

Leone Admirer
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2476


Filmmaker with a fiery passion for films


View Profile
« Reply #32 on: August 20, 2006, 11:53:21 AM »

  It was included in the John Ford Boxed Set, released in June, if you're dying to see it.  Personally, I'd like to buy the set, but I've only seen SR and heard good things about the others.  Guess I'll wait till that price keeps dropping.

Tim Definatly recomend it, The Lost Patrol is a very tense film, The Informer is an incredibly beautiful and haunting film (IMO Ford's best non-Western), Mary Of Scotland is OK, Hepburn gives a good performance, story is kind of interesting but my least fave film in the box, Rutledge is great and Cheyanne Autumn is brillaint  Smiley

Logged

Films: You cant just love them, you've gotta adore them!
Groggy
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 11458


This post gets Agnew's stamp of approval!


View Profile WWW
« Reply #33 on: August 20, 2006, 04:12:28 PM »

Strode was also quite good in "Spartacus", though I was kind of PO'ed that he died, what, forty minutes into the film? 

Logged


Saturday nights with Groggy
The Peacemaker
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 5106


OH SH*T!


View Profile
« Reply #34 on: August 20, 2006, 04:25:24 PM »

I'm getting The Searchers special edition box set DVD for my birthday!

I'm also getting the Sam Peckinpah collection.

Logged

cigar joe
Moderator
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 12605


easy come easy go


View Profile
« Reply #35 on: August 20, 2006, 07:48:43 PM »

Strode is great in The Professionals too.

Logged

"When you feel that rope tighten on your neck you can feel the devil bite your ass"!
Tim
Guest
« Reply #36 on: August 21, 2006, 11:20:40 AM »

Quote
Tim Definatly recomend it,

  Thank ya, Leone Admirer.  As soon as I can round up $50.... Roll Eyes

 
Quote
Strode was also quite good in "Spartacus", though I was kind of PO'ed that he died, what, forty minutes into the film?

  That sounds about right, but Draba HAD to die early.  His death is the one that sets off Spartacus and the other gladiators.  But this role definitely shows off Strode's physical presence.  He's got maybe 5 lines, but everyone always remembers his Draba.

Logged
Groggy
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 11458


This post gets Agnew's stamp of approval!


View Profile WWW
« Reply #37 on: August 21, 2006, 04:40:20 PM »

And what a death scene it is to, I was really hoping what I knew was going to happen to him, wasn't going to happen.

Logged


Saturday nights with Groggy
Tim
Guest
« Reply #38 on: August 22, 2006, 11:36:18 AM »

Quote
And what a death scene it is to, I was really hoping what I knew was going to happen to him, wasn't going to happen.

  Yeah, you knew somehow that Spartacus was gonna live, cause otherwise it's a really short movie!   Grin  I love that moment when Strode has Douglas down with the trident, and you can just see him deciding what to do; kill him or let him live?  Great fight scene overall.

Logged
KevinJCBJK
Guest
« Reply #39 on: July 11, 2007, 11:46:24 PM »

I am hoping to see this film someday.

Logged
Silenzio
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2905



View Profile
« Reply #40 on: July 11, 2007, 11:51:48 PM »

It is a must!  My absolute favorite American Western, though sticklers like Dave Jenkins and Titoli will surely disagree with me.  I had mixed reactions the first time, but with multiple viewings I've appreciated it more and more to the point where I now consider it one of my top 20 films.

Logged
KevinJCBJK
Guest
« Reply #41 on: July 11, 2007, 11:53:24 PM »

I was hoping to watch it before I watch Once Upon a Time in the West. That didn't work out as planned.

If I ever get a chance to see it I will.

Logged
dave jenkins
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 13634

"One banana, two banana, three banana, four...."


View Profile
« Reply #42 on: July 12, 2007, 02:26:07 AM »

My absolute favorite American Western, though sticklers like Dave Jenkins and Titoli will surely disagree with me.
I can't speak for titoli, but I certainly don't like the film. I can't find where I posted this originally, so here it is again. Well, this IS The Searchers thread, so I suppose it should go in here.

The Searchers is a terrible film. Yes, the cinematography is wonderful. Monument Valley and Vistavision were made for each other, and the DP (Hoch) had the experience (he’d already photographed Ford’s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon) to put the two together. And Ford, for his part, stages some very impressive set pieces (the massacre, the run to the river, the reunion scene).

No, the film is not bad for any technical fault. Its badness, rather, is foundational: at the level of plot and character. The screenwriter must bear some of the blame, but the man with the director’s title is most responsible for what is essentially an exercise in bad faith. That bad faith is everywhere in evidence, first frame to last.

The film begins, for example, with a patent fraud: a title announces a Texas setting but we are immediately shown Monument Valley, which looks nothing like Texas. Of course, filmmakers do this sort of thing all the time, substituting location for setting, but here the discrepancy is egregious and calls attention to itself. Even more troubling is what the location does to the logic of the story. The Edwardses and Jorgensens are farmers; why then, are they homesteading a desolate wasteland? There’s a reason Monument Valley was never developed, why it sat pristine until it could be filmed by Ford and others in the mid 20th Century: it is incapable of sustaining life. To suggest that farming families would actually try to settle there shows more than contempt for the audience’s credulity; it shows contempt for the film’s characters themselves. They must either be idiots . . . or puppets.

And so, we are left not with what John Ford may have intended us to view but what we actually see before us: a family that exists only to fulfill its plot function, a family that lives only to be massacred. This being obvious, my sympathies are restrained. I don’t really feel bad when the Edwards family is murdered because that’s what they’re there for. (Shame that the Jorgensens aren’t also massacred, as they are the most annoying family this side of a TV sitcom.)

Regardless, we expect, at the very least, that the characters within the drama respond appropriately. Ford does a very good job of intimating an emotional bond between Ethan and his brother’s wife. After she is killed, Ethan should be in full-on vengeance mode. He shouldn’t exactly be sanguine about the death of the others, either.  Yet the vengeance angle just seems to evaporate in the hunt for Debbie. Okay, finding Debbie may be Martin’s focus, but that shouldn’t be Ethan’s primary concern, especially after he comes to believe she’s irredeemable. Why isn’t he desperate to score some payback? And why isn’t the pursuit given a greater sense of urgency? You’d think in a film called The Searchers, a lot of attention would be devoted to the details of The Search.

As it happens, we get any number of occasions to delay the search. One of the worst excuses comes in the scene where Ethan decides to go home because it's winter, as if that season somehow made searching more difficult. Of course, winter is the easiest time to search, because nomadic peoples stop moving about then. Later we learn that the tribe they're looking for has been wintering up around Ft. Whatever. No surprise, as the plains Indians would move about in the warm weather, then head back to their reservations to sit out the colder months (and maybe score some handouts from the Whites). The point is, winter is probably the easiest time to search for someone among the tribes, but the film falsifies reality for the sake of plot convenience.

Okay, the plot is a bust; what about the characters? Here also the viewer is let down, beginning with the film’s central character. For all the talk by critics of Wayne’s performance in The Searchers (which is indeed good), we don’t really get much from Ethan Edwards. Is there any more to the guy than doggedness and prejudice? We’d like to think so, but we’re shy on data. Not surprising, really, considering that Ford shortchanges just about every character in the piece (the exceptions being the Ward Bond character, Mose Harper, and the Mexican go-between). Martin, as played by Jeffrey Hunter, is less a person than a mass of reactive tissue, and Vera Miles, who is never very good, plays the single-minded Laurie exactly as written. Even Debbie is little more than the film’s MacGuffin. Young Debbie starts the film strong, but thereafter she is more talked about than seen, and when we finally do catch up with her at the end, she is essentially a totem for Ethan to carry away.

Look, Martin’s Indian bride, is an atrocious character. She could have been effective if she were an attractive Indian princess (a la Barbara Carerra in the TV mini-series Centenial). Why not provide a worthy rival for Martin’s affections, someone who could have given Vera Miles a run for her money? But Look was invented only for comedy relief, and what comedy relief. Ford asks us to laugh at an ugly fat woman because she’s ugly and fat. Oh, that witty Mr. Ford. And once her usefulness has ended, she’s killed, off screen. Martin finds her corpse, wonders about her visit to the Indian camp, and then never thinks about her again. She was, after all, only a plot device, one of many in this terrible film, easily forgotten.

Scar certainly gets short shrift. Early on he is established as the nemesis: time and again he is shown to be formidable, ruthless, elusive. There is even a moment, when Ethan meets him in his camp, that a glimmer of humanity shines through via a sarcastic comment (“You speak good Comanche. Someone teach you?”) But there is no follow-up: Scar defaults to plot-device cog. And even here he’s a disappointment. The film is structured to create the expectation of a showdown between Scar and Ethan. But what happens? Scar is dispatched by Martin, almost casually, and the Duke isn’t even around to witness it. So Scar, never a fully imagined character, ends up deflating before our very eyes.

TO BE CONTINUED


Logged


That's what you get, Drink, for getting out of bed this morning.
dave jenkins
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 13634

"One banana, two banana, three banana, four...."


View Profile
« Reply #43 on: July 12, 2007, 02:26:55 AM »

Good scenes, when they occur, rather than redeem the picture, serve to point up, by way of contrast, all that is wrong with the film. An example is the wonderful reunion scene, which begins with an amazing take. After the visit to Scar’s camp, Ethan and Martin are discussing their options, framing a distant sand dune between them. Suddenly a figure crests the dune, begins descending, moving from background to foreground, toward the two men. The men don’t notice this at first, continue talking as the figure—an Indian: an Indian woman: Debbie?—draws closer. The audience wonders, Why is she coming? What will Ethan and Martin do when they see her. Some exquisite suspense is created in this single shot. Then Martin sees Debbie and rushes over. Will she remember him? Can she still speak English? Is she capable of civilized discourse? The answer to all three is yes, but Ford heightens the drama by making us wait for the discovery. Then we get Debbie’s wonderfully economical account of her last ten years: “I remember. From always. At first I prayed to you: Come and get me, take me home. You didn’t come. . . . These are my people. Go.”

This brief speech (Natalie Wood’s only lines in the film) raises an interesting problem: what if Debbie doesn’t want to be rescued? This plot complication is the fulcrum on which Act 3 should turn. Instead, dramatic tension is allowed to dissipate during the long digression about Laurie’s wedding (which includes yet another of Ford’s tiresome donnybrooks). By the time Martin goes to Scar’s camp to rescue Debbie she’s perfectly happy to cooperate. What, then, was all that palaver about her staying with her people? Had to be dropped for time, I guess, the film was running long. We need to hurry to the scene where Ethan guns down Debbie.

This, of course, is the film’s greatest cheat. We know it can never happen—the Duke shooting little Natalie Woodski? In a 1956 film?—so when the film pretends it is a possibility, it is playing us false. And the film is guilty of an even more egregious bait-and-switch tactic concerning the nature of Ethan’s “racism.”

Of course, “racism” is a bad thing, as everyone knows, but in the world of the film this “racism” is something of a moving target. The Comanche are never presented positively, and we see early on that falling into their hands is a bad thing (if one objects to being killed and scalped, that is). This is not the only negative consequence associated with the Indians, however.

The scene with the three rescued captives, artfully constructed and highly dramatic, is a case in point. We see what Ethan sees and what he sees are white girls who have become mentally unhinged as a result of their Indian captivity. Note that at no time does the picture suggest that Comanche culture is equal to that of the white man’s. Rather, Comanche culture has a debilitating effect on its white female captives. This is not a subjective view, not something that Ethan alone or even the white society as a whole believes contrary to fact. The truth of the matter is established objectively in this frightening scene of mental aberration. It is almost as if the Indians were plague carrying vampires, infecting the whites who live among them with a terrible malady (one thinks of Anthony Zerbe and his tribe in The Omega Man). A vexing question then presents itself. If Ethan and Martin find Debbie and she’s damaged goods, should they put her out of her misery or try against the odds to reclaim her soul? Dr. Ethan apparently wants to operate with extreme prejudice, but Doc Martin thinks the patient can be saved. Hey, these opposing approaches could generate some very juicy conflict. Yet when we meet Debbie in the reunion scene she turns out to be perfectly fine. Somehow she failed to contract grinning-idiots disease, so there’s no reason why she can’t be restored to white society. Had the plot not intervened to delay the final resolution, the film could have ended there.

But on we go. Because the threat of Indian-induced mental illness doesn’t pan out, the film later has this speech from Vera Miles: “Fetch what home? The leavings of Comanche bucks, sold to the highest bidder, with savage brats of her own? Do you know what Ethan will do if he has a chance? He’ll put a bullet in her brain. I tell you, Martha would want him to.” Uh, yeah, thanks Laurie, better hurry upstairs now, I think Norman Bates is waiting for his milk and sandwiches.

But notice how the terms of the problem have changed: a health issue no longer, now the specter of miscegenation has been raised. But this turns out to be illusory also. Debbie may be one of Scar’s wives, but she is an amazingly chaste one and apparently child-free. So by the end of the film, Debbie, in her right mind and without any dependants, is guilty only of wearing too much makeup and looking cute in an Indian costume. Hmmm, should Ethan gun a girl down just for a lifestyle choice? John Ford, stalwart of our contemporary mores, answers with a resounding “Hell no!” Ford could have taken a swing at the mental health issue, could have met the challenge posed by a white woman with Indian children in white society, two problems documented in the historical record. Instead he let those pass and waited to connect with the softest pitch the screenwriter could deliver.

Without a satisfying armature to comfort me, hundreds of niggling details rise to annoy me. I’ll just mention a couple. On two separate occasions the “community” sings a hymn, and both times it’s “Shall We Gather at the River?” A little bit of research to find out what 19th century American Protestants actually sang would have helped. It’s conceivable that such a hymn could have been used at a funeral, but at a wedding? I guess these hicks only know one hymn.

Then there’s the matter of anachronistic language. One of the Duke’s most dramatic readings, concerning rape and murder, is marred by the following dialogue:  “What do you want me to do? Draw you a picture? Spell it out?” Contrast these howlers with a line taken from, say, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, made eight years earlier: “Mr. Cohill, it is a bitter thing indeed to learn an officer who’s had nine years’ experience . . . should have so little grasp of leadership as to allow himself to be chivvied into a go at fisticuffs while taps still sounds over a brave man’s grave.” One can argue that this language is also anachronistic. It is, nonetheless, appropriate for its subject. In SWAYR, soldiers talk like soldiers, albeit soldiers from 1948 (She Wore a Yellow Ribbon has more in common with war films than Westerns anyway). This is a far cry from what happens in The Searchers, however: pioneer family members sound like they’ve spent their lives growing up in the ‘burbs. (“Laurie…maybe it’s about time you and me started going steady, huh?”) The problem isn’t lack of fidelity, it is blatant lack of fidelity.

Yes the film has great cinematography, great set-pieces, a riveting performance from the Duke. But craftsmanship is not the issue. Even some black velvet paintings and pink flamingos are executed with great craft; technical excellence, however, does not raise such things to the level of art. Kitsch remains kitsch, no matter how well it’s made, and The Searchers is Western kitsch.

Logged


That's what you get, Drink, for getting out of bed this morning.
Groggy
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 11458


This post gets Agnew's stamp of approval!


View Profile WWW
« Reply #44 on: July 12, 2007, 06:01:38 AM »

Dave's just a hyper-critical grouch, but we already know that. . .  Roll Eyes

My reaction is roughly the same as Silenzio's. I didn't really think much of "The Searchers" upon my first viewing, but I've seen it three times since then and I've enjoyed it more each time.

Logged


Saturday nights with Groggy
Pages: 1 2 [3] 4 5 ... 9 Go Up Print 
« previous next »
Jump to:  



Visit FISTFUL-OF-LEONE.COM

Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
Page created in 0.04 seconds with 19 queries.