Monday, March 11, 2013

The Searchers

For those of you who have stuck around since 2009, the beginning, I am grateful. However I know you probably drop by less, who wouldn't after almost four years. Four in August.

And you probably know that my favorite movie of all time is The Searchers. For those who have never seen or it heard of it, it is arguably one of the best films in American film history. I never really knew this when I watched it in my little town in Canada, population 560.

All I knew is that I liked it and that it had layers (alth0ugh I didn't know what "layers" meant at the age of 12). There was just something about that movie that I could not forget. And it wasn't until VHS came out that I saw it again. And again. Sometimes I caught it on TMC halfway through and watched to the end.

And I found out that other people liked it, people like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, who are far more successful than I, but share that movie, we're all around the same age. 

So what is "The Searchers"?   

First of all, it's a western. But not just a western, it is the best ever made.

I know I'm making it almost impossible for alot of you just from my raves. But it is.

The story is this; A soldier from the Civil War returns home in Texas and shortly afterwards his brother and his wife are brutally killed by Comanches, taking two young daughters with them. For the next seven years the soldier and a half-breed attempt to find the girls but not to save them, rather to kill them after they've been handled by Indians. 

Nice plot, huh.

And it's actually true, based on an real life story in the mid 1800's. It became a mythical story for many years and finally a book in the early 1950's. Then it became a movie directed by a winner of 6 Academy Awards for directing. John Ford. Nobody has every beat him at the Oscars.

Ford wasn't a nice guy, in fact he was an alcoholic and very nasty to everyone. But he made great movies.

And he made several changes in the story, with the main one moving from Texas (even though it was supposed to be Texas) too Monument Valley, which if you've never seen it, is one of the most incredible places in this country.

Ford hired legendary John Wayne to play the lead, a sociopathic cowboy whose racism is pretty clear and dry. This was not the usual movie in 1950's America, racism was not talked about. Ford didn't give a damn, he wanted to show a dark side of America and did it well enough to make the best western ever.

But westerns were considered as not as good as the real movies and The Searchers came and went.  But when it began to play on TV and with the attention from the famous directors above, people began to rediscover it. 

There are several books on John Ford but a new book, just released a week or so ago, covers  both the history of the real story as well as the book and finally, the making of the movie. In fact it's playing tonight at a special screening in Santa Monica.

See it on DVD if you can... you might not like it after all I said, but it is worth the time. And you really need to watch it more than once to catch all the nuances and subtleties

And tell me what you thought.   

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