June 19, 2007
Warner Home Video
One of the most brilliant, physically beautiful and thematically complex of all classical Hollywood Westerns.
An embittered frontiersman engages in an extensive and obsessive search for his niece, abducted years ago by Indians who killed her family in retaliation for a massacre in their village. The pioneer's anger toward the kidnappers is so deep that he plans to kill his niece if he finds her, as he believes he will, "corrupted" and "turned savage" by her captors.
But his partner on this perilous journey is determined to save the girl if he can.
After marauding Comanches kill his brotherÆs family and kidnap their youngest daughter, bitter, morally ambiguous Civil War veteran Ethan Edwards sets forth on a desperate quest to find his niece, Debbie, and save her from the "savages." In tow, however, he has young Martin Pawley, the adoptive son of the dead family. Their quest leads them hundreds of miles over several agonizing years of dead ends and double-crosses. As it becomes clearer that Debbie is living among the Comanches peacefully and has little memory of white society, Ethan resolves not to rescue her, it seems, but to save her from the disgrace of miscegenation by killing her. An epic story and dense, richly layered characterization combine with Winton C. HochÆs lush Death Valley cinematography to create a vivid tapestry of post-Civil War America. EthanÆs tight-lipped racism and willingness to shoot a man in the back dramatically upends WayneÆs heroic archetype; it is rumored that after shooting the film, John Ford, who had directed Wayne times before, exclaimed, "I didnÆt know he could act!" Based on the novel by Alan LeMay.
Color by Technicolor; filmed in VistaVision.
The song "The Searchers" composed by Stan Jones.
Lana Wood, who plays Debbie Edwards as a little girl, is the younger sister of actress Natalie Wood.