Review of ‘The Searchers’

The war is over. The Americans have won. After three years, they have re-established the political machinery and defeated an insurgency. Awakening Councils of Concerned Local Citizens (financed by the Americans) keep the peace. Except for the odd SpecOps raid, the American military is nowhere to be seen.

The insurgent is home from the war. He fought the Americans, fled when the choice was surrender, and after the end of major combat operations took to irregular fighting. What remains of the insurgency, however, has degenerated into banditry and thievery. The insurgent is suspiciously wealthy, but has no use for his ribbons and medals. There is nothing left to fight for. The war is over.

Then intercommunal violence flares up. A cycle of kidnaping, rape, murder, corpse desecration, human trafficking, and honor killings begins.

It’s Texas, 1868.

The Searchers is a family-friendly movie in a sense that has disappeared from cinema. The story is incredibly dark, but most of the action happens off-screen. The attention of children watching the movie would be drawn to the colorful characters, interesting locations, and strange accents, while teenagers would be drawn to a love story involving the heartthrobs of yesteryear and some classic cowboy-and-indian fighting. But adults will see a post-war that’s shockingly nihilistic and lonely.

The Searchers with John Wayne is available from Amazon, Greencine, and Netflix.

6 thoughts on “Review of ‘The Searchers’”

  1. Great review!

    One of my favorite movies. Your analogy of using modern terms to describe our post Civil War West is quite effective.

    About the only thing you missed was ethnic cleansing.

  2. Wonderful review of a truly great movie!

    I have seen it many times…in English, in Spanish and also once in Portuguese. I saw it V.O. on the big screen in Madrid in the 70’s.

    I remember my father telling me he saw THE SEARCHERS when it first came out in 1956 out of town with his business partner –they were in Chicago I think but I am not sure about this- the late HERB KATCHER the brother of LEO KATCHER reporter and screen writer whom we knew though of course I knew Herb Katcher much better. I had dinner at his house –and had lunch with him , saw movies with him and ball games with him dozens of times…sometimes he took me when my father was out of town. He did shock me once by saying he would never let a Christian date his daughter….but one can understand this sentiment. I would not like my daughter to date an infidel either –I would hope that whomever she loved would think enough of her to share our faith….

    While watching the Searchers…Herb whispered to my father –when the it began to snow-THIS IS ONE GREAT MOVIE…THIS IS THE BEST WESTERN I HAVE EVERY SEEN.

    And when I first saw the film in the 1960’s my father told me that story…Herb was a kind man –a Harvard graduate and so was his wife Ina. God bless their memory. Another reason, not to hate all the Jews of course.

    John Wayne considered the SEARCHERS to be his finest film and Ethan Edwards character had a lot to do with Wayne’s characterization of Rooster Cogburn in TRUE GRIT, his Oscar winning performance.

    Leo Katcher by the way

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE5DE1431F931A35750C0A967958260

  3. Best ‘John Wayne’ Movie ever!
    This Movie will never be equaled as the Movie, “How The West Was Won” has been butchered from over 5-hours to less than two.
    …..and there will never be another John Wayne nor will there ever be a Ronald Reagan!!

  4. historyguy99,

    You may enjoy an interview with an insurgent leader I previously featured [1].

    Richard,

    Thank you for the story!

    The Searchers is my favorite John Wayne movie so far.

    As for as Westerns, I think I like ‘Seven Men from Now’ more [2], but it is close.

    Baird & Pampinella,

    Thanks for the notes!

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2006/09/02/chilling-interview-with-iraqi-insurgent-leader.html
    [2] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2007/07/22/the-greencine-five-part-v-seven-men-from-now-story-of-a-prostitute-the-work-of-director-spike-jonze-twin-peaks-wishing-stairs.html

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