HIDDEN GEMS: 14. THE SEARCHERS
Hidden Gems brings to light little known film gems which have somehow slipped through the collective cinematic consciousness. This week, The Searchers. You’re welcome.
If you think about cowboys the chances are you think about Clint Eastwood, or Kevin Costner, or maybe even Clint Eastwood. But before Eastwood donned a poncho there was another cowboy called John Wayne!
Never heard of him? I’m not surprised all his films but one were destroyed in a fire but fortunately the surviving film The Searchers is one of his best. Directed by little known Irish American car maker John Ford, The Searchers is an intense revenge drama which accurately portrays the Old West when the evil dark skinned savages all but exterminated the poor white settlers…. wait, but… never mind.
Ethan Edwards (Wayne) comes home from the wars to his brother’s homestead in Monument Valley, but a party of Indians destroys the house, murders his brother and his wife and kidnap the children with them. With a posse of locals, Ethan goes after the war party, but the search proves long and he is left with Marty (Jeffrey Hunter – the first Captain of the Enterprise), an eighth part Cherokee and the vague hope of racial inclusive to set against Ethan’s seething hatred.
The magnificent scenery is set against the equally beautiful studio shots. The relentless mission of revenge and the way it consumes if not completely destroys lives is set against an almost Shakespearean world, a rich texture of domestic life going on, struggling but just about making it. A life from which Ethan will always be shut out.
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