John Wayne and John Ford made eight westerns together. This one, though it has cowboys and Indians, and Monument Valley vistas shot in gorgeous color, is at heart the grimmest film noir—the story of a man’s obsession for the ravages done to his niece (Natalie Wood) by a Comanche chief. Conflicting impulses of race, sex and violence smolder throughout the Frank Nugent script, and on Wayne’s implacable face, in an epic that spans five years of brutal winters and scalding summers. The Searchers rides toward vengeance, opens and closes doors that lead to the darkest possibilities, deals with spat-out hatreds and unspoken love. Jeffrey Hunter, noble and hunky, heads the fine supporting cast of this immensely influential film, whose distinguished spawn includes Once Upon a Time in the West and Star Wars.
Next Sherlock, Jr.