The Searchers (1956)

As a Civil War veteran spends years searching for a young niece captured by Indians, his motivation becomes increasingly questionable.


Dated and silly. John Wayne's character is very unlikable. He is not a flawed character a la Travis Bickle, he is just a douche. And why did Debbie suddenly changed her mind and wanted to go back with Ethan and Martin?

Great cinematoraphy and composition. Poor acting, plot, and dialogue.. Did not really like this one

4 years ago


Watched this got a second time after ten year gap, still didn't find it to be brilliant, too tongue in cheek.

8 years ago


This is one of the only "great" movies whose place in various Top 250 lists I question. There are many well-regarded movies which I don't personally care for while still acknowledging the greatness of the films themselves: their story, acting, production, direction, cinematography, etc.

But The Searchers?

The overall story is indeed pretty epic, and it has that going for it, but the details of the story just didn't work. The movie does little to convince me why John Wayne and his sidekick would spend so many . . . not months . . . but YEARS searching for the lost girl. After each "two years later" kind of jump in the story, I kept asking "why?!?"

Also, the rampant sexism and racism may have been acceptable in 1953, and I can almost always forgive it in other classic movies because those aspects reflected the values at the time the films were made, but I feel like The Searchers takes it one step too far by twisting a lot of the sexist and racist comments and actions into slapstick humour attempts. Okay, so in 1953 many Americans felt that a Comanche woman is a lower life form than a white man – I get that – and so the characters are going to treat her in a condescending way. But depicting white men kicking a Comanche woman down a hill while laughing at the situation (and judging by the sound effects and music at that time, expecting me to laugh at it as well) was just shameful, by any standards. It would be as if a sad trombone sound played every time a slave was whipped in a pre-civil war movie. Sure, show it like it is, but don't make a joke out of it. I just can't forgive it. Other attempts at humour in the movie were less offensive, but still tacky, in my opinion.

And lastly, Monument Valley, Utah, is far too iconic to pass as Texas; it would be like shooting a "New York" movie right next to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It may look nice, but it just doesn't fit.

By all accounts, this isn't a "bad" movie, but I wonder how much of its Top 250 status is due to nostalgia (it's John Wayne's biggest movie!!!) as opposed to true critical opinion.

8 years ago

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