10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
John Fords Greatest Film,
This review is from: The Searchers [DVD]  (DVD)
The Searchers is one of the greatest films ever made.
However, you will only find this out by watching it a few times.
I bought the DVD on the strength of Scorcese rating as one of his top five films. On first viewing I thought it was OK, but subsequent viewings have confirmed Scorcese's view.
You have to view the film in context. This was made in 1956, by a director who had been working in films from the 1930's. Unlike modern films the pace is leisurely and the character development is measured. Even compared with say the first Clint Eastwood dollars movie (8 or 9 years later) this is filmmaking from a different era.
The story is simple Ethan's niece (a young Natalie Wood) is kidnapped by Indians. Ethan (John Wayne) vows to find her and then (after time has gone by) to kill her (as she has presumably been abused by the Indians). There is no question this is John Waynes best acting performance.
A previous reviewer has critised the portrayal of Indians as savages, and some of the interior (exterior) sets - but like I said above this is a film that has to viewed in context. The special effects options when shooting in the studio in 1956 were very limited.
The use of Monument Valley is marvellous, and many scenes benefit from this natural wonder, however the greatest scene is reserved for the climax to the film which I'm not going to tell you about!
John Fords direction is mostly straightforward, but occasionally a classic shot will happen (like the framed doorway) and you realise what an influence this film has had.