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The Searchers

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Littledrummerboy
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The Searchers

Postby Littledrummerboy » September 8th, 2012, 10:40 pm

The Duke, Ken Curtis, and Ward Bond are just a few of the talented actors combined in this movie. My best friend and I had the opportunity to go see this in the theater. It was so much better on the big screen then on my little television. Of course I cant remember any Ford film that I have come across that I haven't liked. In this particular film he framed things very well especially the opening and closing of the film. When I see Ken Curtis I'm reminded of "Festes" in "Gunsmoke". I grew up watching these films as a boy with his father on the sofa. Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Lone Ranger are just a few of the shows I used to watch. Watching old movies today I kind of go back in time where I was a little boy having man time with my father. My wife and younger friends just don't get it. I'm usually forced to watch them on my own. Thats okay I enjoy them anyway. I recently washed "She wore a Yellow Ribbon" again and it still satisfies my thirst for western adventure. My best friend will tell you that my favorite John Wayne movies are "Rio Bravo" and " El Dorado" I don't know why but they have always been my favorite.

The Searchers shows to me a darker side of The Duke; more so then any other film that I can remember him playing in. Ward Bond plays multiple roles in the film preacher,local law man, judge, and Captain. He is another actor that I can recall seeing a great deal of while watching westerns as a kid. Coming home after the war, trying to find peace and serenity just to be thrown into insanity again with the killing of his relatives and the kidnapping of his niece. The countless months that go by trying to keep on the trail with clues and fragments of facts along the way. The despair felt during the movie is very heavy interupted only by a few hilarious scenes with Vera Miles angry with Jeffery Hunter, an indian squall supposedly wed to Jeffery Hunter, and Jeffery Hunter fighting over Vera Miles with Ken Curtis. That was one of my favorite parts in the movie. After fighting a couple of moments he calls a time out pulls out a fiddle and bow from a hay stack he was just punched into and says: "Somebodies fiddle" then the fighting begins again. The anger portrayed by the Duke however is present thru out the film until the last few moments at the end.

A very good Film, A must have in the collection of Ford fans.

Long live the Duke.

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movieman1957
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Re: The Searchers

Postby movieman1957 » September 9th, 2012, 8:21 am

All roads for westerns lead to this one or "Liberty Valance." Be sure to read the "John Ford" thread where you can find more on this and where we currently are having a discussion on "3 Godfathers."
Chris

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MissGoddess
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Re: The Searchers

Postby MissGoddess » September 11th, 2012, 11:30 am

Can't get enough of this movie, just as movieman said. I agree that seeing it on the big screen is just breath-taking. You need that scope, plus the energy of an appreciative audience, to really grasp its grandeur and emotion. I also love the score.
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Rita Hayworth
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Re: The Searchers

Postby Rita Hayworth » September 11th, 2012, 1:12 pm

MissGoddess wrote:Can't get enough of this movie, just as movieman said. I agree that seeing it on the big screen is just breath-taking. You need that scope, plus the energy of an appreciative audience, to really grasp its grandeur and emotion. I also love the score.


About 20-30 John Wayne Films that he ever made aren't fit to be displayed on our standard television set whether its a 36 inch Sony that I have or a 52 inch plasma either ... it has to be on the theater screen to display it ... in all it's majesty!

The Searchers is one of them.

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JackFavell
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Re: The Searchers

Postby JackFavell » September 12th, 2012, 9:01 am

I too am a fan of The Searchers, I only hope I get to see it on a big screen someday. Something just occurred to me reading your post, littledrummerboy. Do you think Ethan was angry and bitter before the war? We have talked about this movie till the cows come home, but I never really wondered about his war experiences before, and how they might have affected him

Anyone?

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movieman1957
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Re: The Searchers

Postby movieman1957 » September 12th, 2012, 9:27 am

Just thinking out loud.... Assuming he had a relationship with Martha before the war I am thinking that if he was at all he certainly wasn't to the degree he is when we meet him.

Knowing Martha's genteel nature to the extent we do Ethan doesn't seem to be very compatible. Then I wonder if she really loved Aaron or did she just settle for him.
Chris

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MissGoddess
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Re: The Searchers

Postby MissGoddess » September 12th, 2012, 9:58 am

Interesting question! without having thought too much about it, I feel like Ethan was not quite the same man after Martha and his brother's death. But the pattern of his character was to take things too personally, like the "surrender" of his Confederate states. "I don't believe in surrenders." That statement alone tells you how stubborn he was and how he could hold a grudge. Though he was rather humorous with the young Yankee cavalry officer (Pat Wayne) and not at all mean to him. He was mercurial and unpredictable, just when you think you have him pegged, he would show a quality that was the exact opposite of what you'd expect. Hey, like the director! :D If all films, as Kazan insisted, are autobiographical, then you can have fun trying to project a lot of Ford himself onto Ethan. If this is true in Ford's case, then he was very aware of his own faults and weaknesses.
"There's only one thing that can kill the movies, and that's education."
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JackFavell
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Re: The Searchers

Postby JackFavell » September 12th, 2012, 10:22 am

If all films, as Kazan insisted, are autobiographical, then you can have fun trying to project a lot of Ford himself onto Ethan. If this is true in Ford's case, then he was very aware of his own faults and weaknesses.


I definitely think that's true, in fact, I was thinking about it in relation to the 3 Godfathers discussion the other day - that there was a lot of Ford in the stubbornness of Robert Hightower. But then there's a lot of me there too. :D

I was just thinking that you COULD put a spin on the film as a post war story, similar to the Vietnam stories that were so prevalent a few years back. Not that I think that is specifically what Ford was doing. I see many of Ford's films as post war, but usually it's the ones like 3 Godfathers or Wagon Master that make me see how folks felt they had a new beginning after a terrible time, a rebirth. I hadn't thought of any of the post war Fords as dealing with post traumatic stress syndrome (as it's termed today).

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CineMaven
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Re: The Searchers

Postby CineMaven » October 19th, 2012, 10:15 am

Help me out Western gals...help a Sistuh out.

When I went to see James Bond yesterday, for the first time it was in playing in a different theatre. Seeing no guard or no barricade, I walked into the theatre before the 4:00pm showtime for "Quantum of Solace" and walked in on "THE SEARCHERS." Oh! The usher was inside, sitting in the back. She let me stay in until the film ended so I stayed. I came in when Ethan and Martin were meeting with Scar and I left just before they brought Debbie home. ( I needed to get a good place in line for the Bond screening. ) On line I was talking to the gentleman in front of me who said:
"They're showing 'The Searchers' right? I was always dissatisfied with the ending. I felt it ended abruptly, like Ford didn't know how to finish."

I waded in slowly. I knew I was in over my head talking about Ford:
"What was abrupt about it?"

So the gentleman said:
"The way Wayne picked up the little girl and then all was forgiven and they took her home."

So I asked him:
"How would you end the movie if you directed it? What ending did you want to see?"

He was quick to answer:
"I'd have him walk to the girl, have her cower in fear, have him look at his gun and look at her and at his gun and then decide to pick her up."

Hmmm. I pulled out everything that I ever thought I read you guys say about Ford.
"Hmmm...I think that would be a typical director's way of ending that scene. But I think Ford used some shorthand there. I don't think he wanted to draw it out. I think Ethan had five years of hate in him. I think that when he confronted Debbie and picked her up and touched her that his hatred evaporated just like that. That his touching her dissipated all the venom from him. That she was his kin, she was his Debbie. And he had to take her home."


He didn't scrunch his face and laugh derisively. Maybe I'm on to something? Well...let me face the acid test. Go on Fordies. Give it to me straight, no chaser. How far off the mark am I with that? Why was it so instantaneous w/Ethan? Debbie looked so little and defenseless balling up her fists, high up in the air, with this Redwood of a man hoisting her up like that. Tell me your thoughts about that last moment with Debbie & Ethan.

The gentleman likened "The Searchers" to "RED RIVER" as well. I knew I was in danger there so I deflected; I picked the lesser of two evil stupid statements I could give. I asked him what he thought of Ethan having the door closed on him at the end of "The Searchers." He said:
"Oh he couldn't go in there. He was damaged goods."


Luckily I was saved by the bell...the MoMA guard opened the door and "The Searchers" crowd filed out. Then my Bond line proceeded to file in. I don't know if I could have spoken any more about "The Searchers" in a real informed way. It's not my wheelhouse. But you guys know more. Did I totally embarrass myself about John Ford and being a member of this Oasis?

My mother always told me and my sister NOT to talk to strangers!!! :shock:
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MissGoddess
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Re: The Searchers

Postby MissGoddess » October 19th, 2012, 10:36 am

lol! you do write terrifically, MAVEN. :D

And I love your responses, they're BRILLIANT! I completely agree with you. That visceral contact with Debbie brought it all home, brought Martha before him too, I expect, and it was enough.

One other criticism I once read about the ending was that Ford had to film Wayne from behind when he picks up Natalie because Wayne wasn't talented enough to convey the complicated emotions on his face that the scene required, if he'd been filmed from the front.

Okaaaaay....how about the at least two earlier scenes where Ford closed in on Wayne's expression and we see conflicting emotions cross his face (when he's realizing what is happening back at his brother's house as he cools down his horse and later, upon seeing the captive women out of their minds)???

I'm so glad you're enjoying all the Bond screenings, by the way. I wish I could see some, but time and energy haven't been on my side for Ford or James.
"There's only one thing that can kill the movies, and that's education."
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movieman1957
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Re: The Searchers

Postby movieman1957 » October 19th, 2012, 11:16 am

Two things.

I think Ethan does change in an instant. He picks up Debbie and in that moment he still sees a little girl. He may even see Martha. And mostly he sees innocence. Whatever she might have done she is still his blood. How do you kill the last part of who you are? "Let's go home." is said with all the tenderness he can bring. All the anger is gone. Whatever he thought about her being "ruined" is changed. I even think Martin helped change that when Debbie comes out to meet them but Ethan can't feel it until he holds her.

About not coming in the home at the end I don't see so much as he won't because he's damaged as much as it is not his world. He has been moving for so long that the thought of settling down would be so unnatural for him. What is he going to do?
Chris

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JackFavell
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Re: The Searchers

Postby JackFavell » October 19th, 2012, 11:25 am

Oh I totally agree with MissG, Maven! You hit it so squarely, I think you completely got it. Good for you!

Isn't there a scene at the beginning where he picks up little Debbie? Swings her up onto the table or over his head? I am thinking this is mimicked in that scene where his sense memory kicks in and he just can't do it. To belabor the point would be wrong, though, because Ethan is still a ghost walking. Can you imagine another director.... Wayne standing there with tears in his eyes, holding on the closeup? Yuck.

I actually like the idea that he is damaged goods, but I'm not sure the guy you spoke to meant it in the way I take it. I agree with Chris, its not his world, and its not like they are keeping him out. I think, like everything else in his life, Ethan spoils the things he loves or at least feels that he does. The one thing he has going for him is his ability to keep going... and so he has to move on. He is shut out more by himself than by them, because HE feels he is damaged goods. He could never forget what happened and it would eat at him, that's why he could keep looking all this time, the bile inside forced him to. But that same thing that kept him going on the search has alienated him forever from his family.

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CineMaven
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Re: The Searchers

Postby CineMaven » October 22nd, 2012, 2:12 pm

Miss G., your latest avatar, of Marilyn Monroe reading in bed, proves beyond all shadow of all doubt, that there is NO ONE ELSE like Marilyn. It says so many things:

Image


( I posted the pix b'cuz when you change avatars...I'll know what shot I was referring to. )
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rohanaka
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Re: The Searchers

Postby rohanaka » October 25th, 2012, 8:20 pm

OH me oh MY, MIss Maven.. ha. Go read the email I sent you a while ago this evening.. about me only WISHING to get to see The Searchers on the big screen someday.. and here I am now just reading that YOU my friend got the chance to do it.. and then only to find out that you what????????????????????????? Walked out in favor of James BOND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :o OH say it isn't SO!! Ha.

Ok.. ok.. I'm just giving you a bit of grief all in fun.. ha. But why do I suddenly feel like I am the poor little street urchin in a silent film right now..with my nose pressed up against a window as I stand (with my stomach growling) and watch some guy drop flakey crumbs from his freshly sliced bread onto his tie.. and then brush them on the floor.. where they are then trampled on by the waiter as he walks over to the table and refill his coffee. Ha!!!

alas.. :lol:

BUT having said all that.. and having given you all that GRIEF.. ha.. I must say I loved your answers to the gentleman you spoke to. I think that Ethan was overcome.. he had HATED the very thought of poor Debbie being at the hands of Scar and raised by Indians for so long.. that he mixed his hatred for THAT with his hatred for Indians.. and he truly DID believe she was better off dead. Until he saw her.. up close, within arms reach. And then, as Jackie has said.. he was reminded of when he used to swing her up in his arms so long ago.. a lifetime ago.. and he was overcome.

And PS: Miss G.. whoever it was that suggested the Duke was not talented enough to register that level of emotion with a single look.. WHOEVER it was that said such a thing.. clearly has never spent any time at all watching any John Wayne films.. ever. The man had a knack for it... and I say that NOT just because he is my favorite.. but because screen shot after screen shot could prove it true, were anyone wanting to follow up on it.. but I digress, ha.

Keep on dipping your toesies in the Fordian pool, Miss Maven.. you are doing a fine job. (all issues of James Bond not withstanding!) Ha. :D

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MissGoddess
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Re: The Searchers

Postby MissGoddess » October 26th, 2012, 10:40 am

Kathy, the person who disparaged Mr. Wayne's acting ability is a rabid Gary Cooper fan and I'm afraid he seemed bothered by anything remotely related to John Wayne. He even disparaged Ford's directing ability in a case of "guilt by association", so I didn't take his criticisms too seriously. :D
"There's only one thing that can kill the movies, and that's education."
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