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Author Topic: The Searchers (1956)  (Read 31731 times)
Nobody
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« on: April 17, 2005, 12:10:36 PM »

Saw this years ago, and finally decided I had to see it again, so I picked up the dvd. I don't know if Monument Valley has ever looked better on film, but I'm not sure I think this film deserves to be considered one of the all time greats. It might have to do with the fact that I've never been too fond of John Wayne. Apart from him, there was a supporting cast which varied in quality, to say the least. Spielberg once said that this was one of the greatest films ever made due to the depths of the characters. Don't know if I'd agree on that. I'm not saying that the characters are shallow, but I've seen countless of films were the characters have infinetly more depth, including several by good old Sergio.

Don't get me wrong. I don't dislike this film. It is a great piece of work, and I'll certainly see it again. But John Ford and John Wayne made an easily superior film with The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Anything thoughts on this film? Am I the only who doesn't consider one of the all time greats?

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« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2005, 04:10:27 PM »

Saw this years ago, and finally decided I had to see it again, so I picked up the dvd. I don't know if Monument Valley has ever looked better on film, but I'm not sure I think this film deserves to be considered one of the all time greats. It might have to do with the fact that I've never been too fond of John Wayne. Apart from him, there was a supporting cast which varied in quality, to say the least. Spielberg once said that this was one of the greatest films ever made due to the depths of the characters. Don't know if I'd agree on that. I'm not saying that the characters are shallow, but I've seen countless of films were the characters have infinetly more depth, including several by good old Sergio.

Don't get me wrong. I don't dislike this film. It is a great piece of work, and I'll certainly see it again. But John Ford and John Wayne made an easily superior film with The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Anything thoughts on this film? Am I the only who doesn't consider one of the all time greats?


I agree for the most part.  The film had some great moments, but I don't think it's in a league with "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance", "Rio Bravo", or other of Wayne's classic films.  I will say this, though: this was probably Wayne's best performance (with the possible exception of "Red River" and "The Shootist"), and he deserved an Oscar for this, rather than "True Grit".

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« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2005, 05:26:23 PM »

The Searchers is the most over-rated Western of all time. I can think of 50 that are better. Monument Valley looks nice, but the plot is dumb, dumb, dumb (why are the homesteaders living in MV, again? Good grazing land there? Great place to plant crops? Huhhhhhh???)

Groggy, don't sell the Duke short on his True Grit performance. He DID deserve an Oscar for it.

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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2005, 07:51:23 PM »

It's a great looking color film, but not one of my favorites.

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« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2005, 06:00:03 AM »

Nice to see that my fellow Leone fans agree on this.

Congratulations on becoming a Memeber Extraordinaire, Groggy. You're one the old timers now.

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Christopher
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« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2005, 08:23:18 AM »

I haven't seen a lot of John Wayne movies, but I think The Searchers is the best of what I have seen, and I've always felt comfortable saying it's his best performance. I like The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance a lot as well. I wouldn't rank The Searchers as being really high on my list of favorite westerns, but I've always enjoyed it (it might still be on the list, but not really high Wink). What I like most about it is that Wayne's performance is believable. He really is an "anti-hero" in this movie. I've mentioned before on this board that he doesn't always pull those roles off convincingly.

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« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2005, 10:50:23 AM »

i think the searchers is great saw some of it on sunday itv in uk, but i think Liberty Valance is better. theyre both pretty profound tho.

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« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2005, 12:47:50 PM »

I set the video for it yesterday, and I'm probly going to watch it to night. I'm quite looking forward to it - I was interested in getting in to Ford anyway.

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« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2005, 03:15:54 PM »

I fell asleep watching it but only because I was really tired - I was quite enjoying it.  A little old fashioned in places but very brutal in others (eg the vandalising of the Indian grave and mutilation of the body).

Must get  to see the end at some point

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« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2005, 04:06:42 PM »

Nice to see that my fellow Leone fans agree on this.

Congratulations on becoming a Memeber Extraordinaire, Groggy. You're one the old timers now.

I just finished reading Michael Munn's biography of the Duke (great book, BTW, I'd recommend it to anyone who has an interest in him, though for some reason he trashes "Liberty Valance"  Tongue), and apparently Wayne considered this his best role (I believe his son Ethan was named after his character in the movie).  It's up in the air, to be sure.  I know not everyone here agrees, but I think the Duke was a good actor who was typecast very early on, and only rarely got to really show his talent.

I also found interesting how Wayne, during the making of the film, saved a two-year old Apache girl who was dying from pneumonia by flying her in his private plane to a local hospital.  That's something worth admiring about JW.

And thanks for your congratulations, Nobody.  I hadn't noticed it.  Not bad for a sixteen year old.  Grin

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« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2005, 05:24:12 PM »

I don't buy the idea that Wayne's performance in The Searchers somehow stands apart from his other work. I think the Duke was remarkably consistent throughout his career. The character he plays in The Searchers is written differently than the ones he usually played, but Wayne's playing really isn't different. It's kind of a trick (a similar trick was done with Bogart in In a Lonely Place). If The Searchers is in anyway special, then, it's not because of a special performance by Wayne.

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« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2005, 09:08:24 AM »

The character he plays in The Searchers is written differently than the ones he usually played, but Wayne's playing really isn't different. It's kind of a trick (a similar trick was done with Bogart in In a Lonely Place).
I'll buy that. The character is written well, and that's why it's a stand out performance. It's still the best performance I've seen from him. I don't doubt that Wayne could act, he just didn't always get the opportunity to do anything differently. I would still say his performance is what makes the film special (that right along with the writing Wink). Had he not played the role convincingly as a racist, bitter man, the film wouldn't be that great.

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« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2005, 01:09:30 PM »

I'd say Wayne's best performances were Searchers and Red River.  For best film overall I'd include Liberty Valance, but Wayne and Stewart were both too old for their parts.

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« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2005, 02:27:55 PM »

i agree cusser, stewarts is sposed to be early 20s and hes about 50!! but i never really notice it!!

Great early sighting of Lee Van Cleef as Liberty Valances henchman as well !

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« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2005, 04:17:38 PM »

i agree cusser, stewarts is sposed to be early 20s and hes about 50!! but i never really notice it!!

Great early sighting of Lee Van Cleef as Liberty Valances henchman as well !

Lee Van Cleef and Strother Martin.  Now where's L.Q. Jones? Tongue

Again, in the John Wayne bio I read what I thought was an amusing story.  LVC recalled that while working on the film, they were filming the scene where Wayne kicks the crap out of Lee in the bar after Lee Marvin gets shot.  He drew too fast for Wayne to grab his gun, and he said "I'll slow it down for you if, you'd like".  And Wayne said to Lee, "Thanks for helping an old actor out!"  Even back then, Lee was quite the fast draw, apparently . . .  Grin

I like "Liberty Valance" for some of the reasons that many people don't.  I love how all these very talented character actors (Marvin, LVC, Martin, Miles, O'Brien, Devine, and of course John Carradine Wink ) were given a chance to showcase their talents.  I'm going to try to persuade our school to do this movie for the school play next year.  (Only half kidding . . .)

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I don't buy the idea that Wayne's performance in The Searchers somehow stands apart from his other work. I think the Duke was remarkably consistent throughout his career. The character he plays in The Searchers is written differently than the ones he usually played, but Wayne's playing really isn't different. It's kind of a trick (a similar trick was done with Bogart in In a Lonely Place). If The Searchers is in anyway special, then, it's not because of a special performance by Wayne.

Dave, I respectfully disagree.  I think the reason that his role as Rooster Cogburn got him the Oscar is because he played the role in a more hammy, acting-for-the-sake-of-acting way than in most of his performances.  While I enjoyed "True Grit" (though it's certainly not one of Wayne's best films), to say that it was Wayne's best doesn't cut it for me.

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