With John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles, Natalie Wood, Ward Bond
Directed by John Ford
Reviewed by JL

The Searchers     No mere great Western, THE SEARCHERS ranks among the greatest motion pictures ever made.  With the depth, theme, and structure of a major novel, it is also John Ford's most incisive commentary on the dark underbelly of American mythos.  John Wayne delivers his greatest performance in his greatest role, that of Ethan Edwards, a man whose heroism is tainted by a bigotry that borders on the maniacal.  We are provided with a few hints as to the reasons for Ethan's hatred of Indians, especially the Comanche tribe, but ultimately he remains an intensely private and enigmatic figure, a loner out of place even with his own family.  During his five-year search for his kidnapped niece (played during her teenage years by the lovely 18-year-old Natalie Wood), Ethan's hatred of the Comanches becomes so intense, we are unsure if he will rescue the girl or kill her for having been "corrupted" by her abductors.  In many ways, Ford uses the character of Ethan to represent the duality of the American character: he's the necessary evil that was needed to build the nation, yet one who is destined to remain a loner, shunned within the very society he helped to create.   - JL

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