4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Existential Cowboy
I saw this with my friends when I was a kid - we went around quoting Old Mose, whom we all loved - "Thank you for those kind words." - it did not matter he was somewhat crazed; that made him all the more sympathetic and loveable. I don't know how much we liked the movie otherwise because it is not totally action-packed. Having seen it now, as an adult, I see that John...
Published on Jan. 10 2010 by Johnny Darkness
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Imitation widescreen presentation! How sad!!
A fantastic movie and a true classic - and certainly one that really shines when presented in its true widescreen aspect ratio. That said, SHAME on Warner Brothers for butchering this issue with a "imitation" widescreen format (hence my 1-star rating). The packaging claims both Standard format and "matted" widescreen are on the dvd - the latter (at least for WB) means...
Published on Jan. 27 2003
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Existential Cowboy,
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This review is from: The Searchers (La Prisonnière du Désert) (Bilingual) (DVD)
I saw this with my friends when I was a kid - we went around quoting Old Mose, whom we all loved - "Thank you for those kind words." - it did not matter he was somewhat crazed; that made him all the more sympathetic and loveable. I don't know how much we liked the movie otherwise because it is not totally action-packed. Having seen it now, as an adult, I see that John Ford (and, perhaps John Wayne) had other concerns: racism, sexism, political intransigence, the concept of family, and the loner. This movie, set in Texas but obviously filmed (beautifully) in Monument Valley, is more about character. And the possibility of change. And, perhaps, the impossibility of change; or, the shattering of growth by an overwhelming sense of loss (Wayne's character: the war, and the woman). Ford is a master director - I recommend watching the Special Feature in which the movie is explained, showing all the incredible framing of shots, the backlighting, the pacing of shots.... Aw, just watch it and forget any prejudices you have against John Wayne. It is a beauty.The Searchers
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Imitation widescreen presentation! How sad!!,
By A Customer
A fantastic movie and a true classic - and certainly one that really shines when presented in its true widescreen aspect ratio. That said, SHAME on Warner Brothers for butchering this issue with a "imitation" widescreen format (hence my 1-star rating). The packaging claims both Standard format and "matted" widescreen are on the dvd - the latter (at least for WB) means that they take the (already width-cropped) standard screen version and simply [take] huge strips off of the top and bottom of the picture to make the shape approximately 1:85:1 (so an HDTV format screen is filled, no doubt). The result is that when watching this "widescreen" version, one is seeing far less picture than even in the Standard format! I have verified this by comparing the two dvd sides (one standard, the other "widescreen") to one another and to a true widescreen tape that I have. Those reviewers that have been raving about this widescreen presentation, have a look at the standard format side of the disk to see more of the movie ;-)
5.0 out of 5 stars Searchers!!,
Ethan Edwards, (John Wayne), finds his way home after the civil war to his brothers homestead. Some cattle are rustled and he and a few men track them only to discover it's a Comanche trick to lure them away while they kill out the folks left behind which is Ethan's brother, wife, and kids. They arrive back too late, all are dead except Ethan's niece who was taken captive. Ethan sets out to find his niece accompanied by Martin Pauley, (Jeffrey Hunter), who Ethan found as a baby years earlier after another Indian raid. Ethan loved his brother's wife which is clear in the book by Lemay but very lightly alluded to in the film. This helps to explain his rage because everything he cared for in the world is gone. He will pursue the Comanche that have his niece until hell freezes over. Along the way he finds that he is still a human being. This film is widely considered the greatest western of all time and a favorite film of Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg if that means anything to you, I thought I would toss it in anyway.
3.0 out of 5 stars STILL SEARCHING FOR AN ADEQUATE TRANSFER,
John Ford was a master craftsman of the American cinema. Though he dabbled in melodrama and action during his directorial career, his everlasting contribution to the movies remains in those galvanic distillations of the old west put forth by an unparalleled series of legendary films. "The Searchers" ranks among his most finely wrought and meticulously hand crafted projects. Indeed it seems to be the film in which the culmination of Ford's own commitment to the power, beauty and frailty of the western frontier tragically come together in a revisionist perspective that exposes both its grandeur and its flaws. The film stars the iconic John Wayne as Ethan Edwards - a strangely majestic antihero who vows bloody revenge after his cousin and family are slaughtered by marauding Comanches. But Ethan's search for his surviving niece (Natalie Wood) becomes a sinister and all-consuming obsession when he learns that she - having been abducted while still a child - has now adopted the ways of her captors and, at least in Ethan's mind, has become one of them. The film tackles racism in the form of Ethan's distrust of one time family friend (Jeffrey Hunter) who is part Cherokee and the sweep and spectacle of Death Valley has never been quite so poignantly captured on film.
THE TRANSFER: While Warner Home Video has made "The Searchers" available in anamorphic widescreen in a print that is light years ahead of anything the film has looked like before for the home film enthusiast, compared to more current DVD releases, the visual splendor of the transfer falls short of expectations. Though colors are rich there's something of a muddiness and lack of balance to them in many of the indoor scenes. Also, several scenes appear to be suffering slightly from color shrinkage, creating a slightly out of focus image quality that is distracting. Age related artifacts are present but do not distract so much as the digital anomalies of pixelization and edge enhancement which greatly plague the background information in most of the long shots. A slight shimmering is inherent in all of the scenes. Black and contrast levels can be solid at times, while sometimes appearing slightly pasty. Ditto for the unnatural flesh tones which are either overly pink or a ruddy orange. The audio has been remastered and delivers a nice expansive presentation which is in keeping with the vintage of the original sound elements.
EXTRAS: Not this time around. Sadly, this film deserves a documentary.
BOTTOM LINE: "The Searchers" is a masterful western, on par with "Stagecoach" and "High Noon". Definitely one to add to your film library.
5.0 out of 5 stars Wayne's Finest Performance, in Ford Masterpiece...,
Even if you've never seen John Ford's THE SEARCHERS, you will have, undoubtedly, seen a film that owes it's 'style' to the film. DANCES WITH WOLVES, THE OUTLAW JOSIE WALES, UNFORGIVEN, JEREMIAH JOHNSON, and OPEN RANGE are just a few westerns that have 'borrowed' from it, but THE SEARCHERS' impact transcends the genre, itself; STAR WARS, THE ENGLISH PATIENT, THE LAST SAMURAI, even THE LORD OF THE RINGS have elements that can be traced back to Ford's 1956 'intimate' epic. When you add the fact that THE SEARCHERS also contains John Wayne's greatest performance to the film's merits, it becomes easy to see why it is on the short list of the greatest motion pictures ever made.
The plot is deceptively simple; after a Comanche raiding party massacres a family, taking the youngest daughter prisoner, her uncle, Ethan Edwards (Wayne), and adopted brother, Martin Pawley (Jeffrey Hunter), begin a long quest to try and rescue her. Over the course of years, a rich tapestry of characters and events unfold, as the nature of the pair's motives are revealed, and bigoted, bitter Edwards emerges as a twisted man bent on killing the 'tainted' white girl. Only Pawley's love of his 'sister' and determination to protect her stands in his way, making the film's climax, and Wayne's portrayal of Edwards, an unforgettable experience.
With all of Ford's unique 'touches' clearly in evidence (the doorways 'framing' the film's opening and conclusion, with a cave opening serving the same function at the film's climax; the extensive use of Monument Valley; and the nearly lurid palette of color highlighting key moments) and his reliance on his 'stock' company of players (Wayne, Ward Bond, John Qualen, Olive Carey, Harry Carey, Jr, Hank Worden, and Ken Curtis), the film marks the emergence of the 'mature' Ford, no longer deifying the innocence of the era, but dealing with it in human terms, where 'white men' were as capable of savagery as Indians, frequently with less justification.
Featuring 18-year old Natalie Wood in one of her first 'adult' roles, the sparkling Vera Miles as Pawley's love interest, Wayne's son Patrick in comic relief, and the harmonies of the Sons of the Pioneers accenting Max Steiner's rich score, THE SEARCHERS is a timeless movie experience that becomes richer with each viewing.
It is truly a masterpiece!
5.0 out of 5 stars The second best western ever made,
Ethan Edwards, an ex confederate is to his own way, an outlaw. But I'd really like to make a crossroad in the analysis. Doesn't Ethan belong to the dinasty of the mytical hero? In the purest sense of the term. His origin is not very clear. And suddenly he appears, so he leaves at the end. In this sense his efforts for searching his kidnapped niece are an epic fight against all the obstacles.
And the turning point that makes that film so extraordinary, is the decission which prevails when he finally finds Debby and almost kills her. In this sense it's a personal choice. Through all his trip he has established his own code. He kills Putterman because it has to be done, and forget all the ethical reasons.
But when he goes to rescue her with the group, and finally saves her, you notice he isn't very satissfied with the result.
At last, all the people experiences a happy ending, but he doesn't seem to be very convinced with himself. And that's why he made a decision politically right.
John Ford was the western's director per excellence. The film has unforgettable moments, the use of the objective, the travellings and the fantastic landscape in Texas support this jewel. If not for The wild bunch this film would be the greatest western movie, but a second place is not a trageddy.
In addition you can find in Ethan a close affinity with the beliefs of Pike in the wild bunch. Doesn't it tell you anything?
You must have this DVD in your collection. It's a must. Believe me.
5.0 out of 5 stars Similarities to Captain Ahab and his pursuit of Moby Dick,
John Wayne plays the anti-hero Ethan Edwards who returns undefeated and unrepentant three years after the defeat of the Confederacy to the family ranch in Texas. Soon after his arrival the ranch is raided by Commanches, the family murdered and Ethans young niece is kidnapped. The rest of the movie portrays Ethans five-year quest for his niece.
In a real sense, Ethans search for his niece is reminisence of Melvilles Moby Dick. The relentless pursuit of the white whale represents not only Ahabs vengeance against the animal for taking his leg, but also an attempt to pursue and defeat the God who allowed this misfortune to happen. Thus, Ahab abandons all reason in his monomaniacal thirst for revenge. The chase becomes more than a whaling story for in killing Moby Dick Ahab is avenging himself against God; but in the end Ahab and his crew perishes before the White God. Compare this to Ethans monomaniacal pursuit to kill Scarface, the chief who lead the raiding party that killed Ethans family and to rescue his niece. Ethan abandons reason and gives into blind hatred- shooting the eyes out of a dead Indian, taking parting shots at retreating Indians when everyone else has stopped firing, killing the buffalo so Indian families will starve and threatening to kill his own niece who has been defiled by the Indians. This is more than a search and rescue mission- it is Ethans attempt to come to grips with the defeat of the Confederacy, to gain victory where he has only known defeat. It is more than a story of vengeance. It is a story of a man facing his prejudice and blind hatred of the Indians. Ethan does not directly battle God, but he battles the inner demons that plague him. In the end, unlike Ahab, he finds redemption. He rescues his niece and as the family enters the home to celebrate the reunion, Ethan turns and leaves. He is alone, but he is at peace with himself.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Western for Everyone,
Let me be the first to say that I am by no means a fan of the western. I find them to be generally cliched and conventional, and rarely original. However, The Searchers is one of the greatest movies of all time and it avoids all the western cliches, telling an emotionally resonant story amid the backdrop of the uncivilized west without a single duel on an abandoned road. As a result, it has been proclaimed the King of the Westerns for years, a judgment with which I must agree.
The plot is legendary. John Wayne gives a great performance as Ethan Edwards, ex-Johnnie Reb and newly returned to live quietly with his brother's family when Commanche warriors kill them all and take off his niece to be raised among them. Edwards then begins his obsessive search along with sidekick Martin (Jeffrey Hunter) to kill his niece, figuring her to be better off. The frank examination of racism in this film was unusual for the genre and time period, and the depth of the characters and their respective arcs make this film one of the greatest ever made.
Unfortunately, the film is flawed. When watching it it is impossible to forget that this is a fifties-era western because of the presence of cowboy music and the cartoon-like introduction. Not that I favor changing it, but it sort of takes one out of the movie. I guess my beef is that it is a film of its times, rather than transcending it completely. Aside from this there is very little wrong with the film and it has aged well.
In short, this is a movie that belongs in the collection of anyone who loves a great film, even if you, like me, don't like the western in general. Its complexity and excitement make it still interesting and exhilarating today.
5.0 out of 5 stars Add this to your COLLECTION!,
This review is from: The Searchers (VHS Tape)
Noticing 106 reviews on this film, it has been well covered-and I agree with the 5 star raves and the eloquent commentaries.
A few additonal comments:Co-star Jeffery Hunter would later go on to star in the original pilot of Star Trek-only to pull out at his wife's advice-and we all know what William Shatner did with the part. Monument Valley is stunning and director John Ford photographs it so nicely that the scenery almost takes over the story! Filmakers would leave those scenics to Ford alone, out of respect as if he made the area HIS private portrait studio.
Martin Scorcesse commented that in the last shot of the last scene -John Wayne is standing on the porch (the same set as the opening shot) but this time he crosses his arm a perculiar way-which was a spontaneous gesture of respect for the Western actor Harry Cary who made that "pose" his trademark. The older woman in the scene that the camera dollys past as Wayne does this; bursts into tears, off camera. (as she saw Wayne do this.) She was Harry Cary's widow. Having heard that from Scorsese-I get chills of emotion every time I see that ending shot and Wayne's gesture of respect to one of his peers. Wayne is a class act-and he delivers his best performance in this incredibly visual film.
5.0 out of 5 stars An Odyssey-like western classic,
I can't agree with calling "The Searchers" an iliadic western. If anything, it is the Odyssey of the West, as it tells the story of Ethan Edwards's five-year search for his kidnapped niece. John Wayne gives a great performance (many people argue its his best) as Ethan Edwards, a tough, proud Civil War veteran who refused to give up and who is forced to spend years of his life searching for his niece, Debbie. The journey, mostly set in the beautiful Monument Valley of Southern Utah, is truly a quest of epic proportions.
The story is intriguing, the plot fast-moving and unpredictable, and the action exciting. Wayne's performance as Edwards shows him in a darker, more unpredictable role than many of his other films, and that sun-baked, battle-hardened face covered with stubble is a visage that, in many ways, epitomizes the rough character of the American West.
The movie contains a number of stereotypes, from European settlers to Comanche Indians, that would not be considered politically correct today. Despite this, however, this is a fine film by director John Ford, one that captivates from beginning to end. Every list of the greatest Westerns of all time should include "The Searchers."
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The Searchers: 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition [Import] by Nick Redman (DVD - 2006)
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