John Ford, one of the great directors of the western genre, has crafted one of the greatest westerns ever made.
The story follows Ethan Edwards, a former Cival war officer, as he returns to his brother and his family. The set up is fairly simple, Comanche's in the area attack a local ranch hands cattle and Ethan joins up with a crew of local's to find out the motives behinde the attack. Realising this was just a ploy to lead them away from their respective homes they go back. Ethan returns to find his brothers house burnt down and family killed. The Comanche's have also taken his two nieces captive.
Along with his nephew, who is part native American himself, he sets out to find his nieces and take revenge on the Comanche's who massacred his family.
This film is brilliant for many diffrent reasons, firstly the acting from John Wayne is exellent to watch, a man who has a hatred for the Comanche's and has little intrest in his nephew who has offerd to help him in a journey that spans 5 years of their lives. Wayne is truly a joy to watch, his journey is one of self realisation and how one comes to terms with his own previously unfound humanity.
The scope of the film also holds no boundries, it takes place on an impressively epic scale, with Ethan and nephew Martin traversing some fantastic locales which are so well realised by cinematographer Winton C. Hoch, the photography is outstanding, utilising the back drop of Monument Valley to great effect. Also of note are the scenes set in the snow, beutifully shot.
The direction from John Ford is fantastic, handling Frank S. Nugents script with remarkable ease, he gets the best from his cast and certainly brings the best out of John Wayne, who is working with Ford for the 12th time in his career here. Ford really has an eye for bringing the best out of a locaction with fantastic panaramas for the charaters to play against.
The supporting cast are great here also, Ward Bond is great as Reverand/Captain Samuel Clayton, he has some great dialogue in the film, also of note is Harry Brandon as the Comanche leader Scar. His presence alone is great, a ruthless Leader who collects the scalps of his victims.
There is also a good dose of wry humour throughout the proceedings, with some memorable scenes, particually one where Martin who believes he has brought a rug from a tribe, has unwittingly brought himself a wife. Whilst that is the biggest comedic set piece on offer here the subtler humour comes from the characters in the lesser roles.
The ending to the film is memorable, with Waynes character Ethan realsing his humanity, a man who at the start of his journey had little time for anyone and showed little compasion, only climpses of it toward his search for his nieces, comes full circle. Not only a man on a relentless search, but a man battling against the elements and against himself, finding who he truly is along the way.
The Searchers really is a film to revel in, endlessly watchable, with a fantastic performance from John Wayne with great support from the rest of the cast on offer. With great photography and epic direction, this film stands as one of director John Fords finest moments.