Zach on Film: The Searchers (1956)


This week, Zach looks at racism, family, and the old west in John Ford’s The Searchers.

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The Searchers is a 1956 American Technicolor VistaVision Western film directed by John Ford, based on the 1954 novel by Alan Le May, and set during the Texas–Indian Wars. The film stars John Wayne as a middle-aged Civil War veteran who spends years looking for his abducted niece (Natalie Wood), accompanied by his adoptive nephew (Jeffrey Hunter). Critic Roger Ebert found Wayne’s character, Ethan Edwards, “one of the most compelling characters Ford and Wayne ever created.”

The film was a commercial success, although it received no major Academy Award nominations. Since its release, it has come to be considered a masterpiece, and one of the greatest and most influential films ever made. 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 100 greatest American movies of all time.[3] Entertainment Weekly named it the best Western of all time.[4] The British Film Institute’s Sight & Sound magazine ranked it as the seventh best movie of all time based on a 2012 international survey of film critics [5][6] and the French magazine Cahiers du cinéma ranked The Searchers in 2008 number 10 in their list of the top 100 best films of all time.

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