AFI 100 Progress: The Searchers

“That’ll be the day.”

The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)

With John Wayne and Natalie Wood.

This movie is often regarded as the greatest western of all time and while the always keen eye of John Ford gives us some beautiful pictures to look at, I didn’t see the film I expected to given its high regard.  John Wayne presents a fascinating case to me.  He’s not so much an actor as he is just a character.  I always find his delivery to be so corny, but they ate that shit up back in the day and it was enough to turn him into an American icon of sorts.  The story in this one seems fairly stock, even with the underlying theme of racism and bigotry.  I was often bored, but just as I got amped up enough for the big conclusion they found a need to throw in all this awkward comic relief involving a character played by Wayne’s son.  It felt completely out of place, especially given the film’s generally dark tone and subject matter.  Perhaps my biggest question is how did Wayne get so fat if he was doing nothing but desperately searching for this girl throughout the American west for the better part of a decade?

Rating: 7/10

RIYL: John Wayne, Westerns (duh)


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