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The Searchers [Blu-ray]
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Product Description

Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 10/31/2006 Run time: 86 minutes Rating: Pg

A favorite film of some of the world's greatest filmmakers, including Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, John Ford's The Searchers has earned its place in the legacy of great American films for a variety of reasons. Perhaps most notably, it's the definitive role for John Wayne as an icon of the classic Western--the hero (or antihero) who must stand alone according to the unwritten code of the West. The story takes place in Texas in 1868; Wayne plays Ethan Edwards, a Confederate veteran who visits his brother and sister-in-law at their ranch and is horrified when they are killed by marauding Comanches. Ethan's search for a surviving niece (played by young Natalie Wood) becomes an all-consuming obsession. With the help of a family friend (Jeffrey Hunter) who is himself part Cherokee, Ethan hits the trail on a five-year quest for revenge. At the peak of his masterful talent, director Ford crafts this classic tale as an embittered examination of racism and blind hatred, provoking Wayne to give one of the best performances of his career. As with many of Ford's classic Westerns, The Searchers must contend with revisionism in its stereotypical treatment of "savage" Native Americans, and the film's visual beauty (the final shot is one of the great images in all of Western culture) is compromised by some uneven performances and stilted dialogue. Still, this is undeniably one of the greatest Westerns ever made. --Jeff Shannon

A favorite film of some of the world's greatest filmmakers, including Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, John Ford's The Searchers has earned its place in the legacy of great American films for a variety of reasons. Perhaps most notably, it's the definitive role for John Wayne as an icon of the classic Western--the hero (or antihero) who must stand alone according to the unwritten code of the West. The story takes place in Texas in 1868; Wayne plays Ethan Edwards, a Confederate veteran who visits his brother and sister-in-law at their ranch and is horrified when they are killed by marauding Comanches. Ethan's search for a surviving niece (played by young Natalie Wood) becomes an all-consuming obsession. With the help of a family friend (Jeffrey Hunter) who is himself part Cherokee, Ethan hits the trail on a five-year quest for revenge. At the peak of his masterful talent, director Ford crafts this classic tale as an embittered examination of racism and blind hatred, provoking Wayne to give one of the best performances of his career. As with many of Ford's classic Westerns, The Searchers must contend with revisionism in its stereotypical treatment of "savage" Native Americans, and the film's visual beauty (the final shot is one of the great images in all of Western culture) is compromised by some uneven performances and stilted dialogue. Still, this is undeniably one of the greatest Westerns ever made. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews:

  • The Searchers DVD version
    An excellent transfer. I purchased a copy of the film on Laser Disc in the 1990s'. The DVD version is superior....more info
  • Wayne and Ford
    Probably the Duke's greatest film. A large scale epic of a quest by Ford with Wayne tracking his lost niece -- after Indians raid her home and kill her family. Aided by Jeffrey Hunter, this a truly monumental motion picture and not simply one of the greatest westerns ever made. Wayne's character is a man who truly loses everything -- best exemplified by the final scene....more info
  • Great Wayne
    Wayne at his greatest in this Ford directed epic. Get goosebumps every time I watch it. A must for western fans....more info
  • Can I comment on the Amazon review?
    Mr. Shannon: You are the one engaging in revisionism history! Farmers were burned out by Indians, young girls were taken captive, and the Noble Indian was not always so noble in his deeds. Study a little more deeply and you'll see that Western Civilization and war-like Indian tribes were never going to live side-by-side. Heck, the more war-like tribes didn't even live in peace between themselves. Mr. Ford's movie stands as a beautifully-filmed tribute to the courage of the American Western pioneers. 'Nuff said....more info
  • Fast shipping
    Received my product fast, just in time for Valentine's day. One of the greatest John Wayne movies of all time!...more info
  • A high quality release of this incredible film
    The Searchers tells the story of Ethan Edwards's five-year search for his kidnapped niece. John Wayne gives a great performance (many people argue its his best) as Ethan Edwards, a tough, proud Civil War veteran who refused to give up and who is forced to spend years of his life searching for his niece, Debbie. The journey, mostly set in the beautiful Monument Valley of Southern Utah, is truly a quest of epic proportions.

    The story is intriguing, the plot fast-moving and unpredictable, and the action exciting. Wayne's performance as Edwards shows him in a darker, more unpredictable role than many of his other films, and that sun-baked, battle-hardened face covered with stubble is a visage that, in many ways, epitomizes the rough character of the American West.

    The movie contains a number of stereotypes, from European settlers to Comanche Indians, that would not be considered politically correct today. Despite this, however, this is a fine film by director John Ford, one that captivates from beginning to end. Every list of the greatest Westerns of all time should include "The Searchers."

    It's great to see a classic film like this one get an excellent re-release.
    ...more info
  • Wow
    What a beautiful restoration of a classic American film. What the Blu-Ray format is doing for classic films like this is not just visually jaw-dropping but important preservationist work! The price for this Blu-Ray is a steal. Those, including me, who have disparged John Wayne's acting will eat their words after viewing "The Searchers." No wonder this film is mandatory viewing in many film study classes....more info
  • Ride away
    He stands in the doorway because he is the typical Ford hero. He is a wanderer and outsider who serves a society he cannot himself live in. He respects the values of that society, the domestic virtues of home and community, but he is driven by a higher call to duty. He is independent, self-reliant, more physical than intellectual, expresses himself more through gestures than words, and is not afraid to use violence when it is required. He drinks hard, fights hard, lives hard, and remains always alone. Living outside the law of society, he embodies the spirit of that law by adhering to a strict personal code of moral behavior and an almost religious respect for ritual and honor. He is an ordinary human being raised to the stature of hero through his courageous acceptance of a situation that he cannot, as a self-respecting man, avoid. He usually dies. He is almost always defeated. But the proof of his heroism is his private victory in the face of defeat....more info
  • Pure greatness with a gorgeous picture
    I just got my 1080p HDTV and Blu-ray player, and one of my first Blu-ray disc purchases was "The Searchers." All I can say is WOW! The picture looks stunning, especially all the shots in Monument Valley, with crystal clear detail.

    I had seen "The Searchers" many years ago, but it's a film you really have to see more than once to really appreciate. It's definitely not your typical 1950s western. What's striking about it is the level of implied violence that you don't seen in films even today. Perhaps the violence is so shocking just because the viewer doesn't see it on the screen. We do see the characters' reactions to it though. My thought was that if The Duke can't handle seeing it, then I don't want to either.

    There's a lot of different layers to "The Searchers," a lot of things going on in the subtext. There's the unspoken yearning between Ethan and Martha, questions about where Ethan went after the war, Ethan's racism and views on religion, etc. And for someone who supposedly wasn't a good actor, John Wayne gives a superb performance (he was always underrated as an actor). The look on his face when he saw his brother's farm burning was just heartbreaking. I wound up watching the movie three times, partly to marvel at the stunning 1080p picture, but also to catch little things that I missed on earlier viewings. ...more info
  • Scar Face
    The Searchers in a great balance of entertainment, humour, and drama. The Comanche indian is protrayed as the villians, raiding white villiages, and killing all the inhabitants brutally. The cowboys are the heros and the indians the enemy. The movie has action: escape from the Comanche trap at the river, fist fights, knife fights, and a calvery rescue....more info
  • the silhouette of a woman
    The first image in The Searches is the silhouette of a woman who is standing in the cool, dark doorway of a frontier cabin and looking out into the searing heat and sun of the desert. As she stoically waits, a man rides up, wearily dismounts, and walks slowly toward her. We are in John Ford country, and all the elements are there. Pictorially, it is a scene of stark contrasts, light in conflict with dark, interior pitted against exterior, the figures sharply etched in their solitude, the implacable outlines of a harsh environment looming behind them. The people are dramatic, larger than life, and what happens to them has the force and fatality of history recorded on the screen...more info
  • The Searchers
    Monument Valley never looked as breathtakingly beautiful as it does in this exquisite, richly faceted Western, perhaps the most accomplished film in John Ford's oeuvre. Wayne gives the performance of a lifetime as the obsessed, enigmatic Ethan, while young Natalie Wood is indelible in a brief role as Debbie, the kidnapped girl caught between worlds. Ford described his ambitious masterwork as a "psychological epic," and this gut-twisting, high-lonesome tale certainly grows more nuanced with each viewing....more info
  • Masterpiece?
    Masterpiece? This appellation should be reserved for truly supreme artistic achievements.

    Psychologically complex? Compared to what?

    There is a whole corral of "Classic Westerns" that, if released today, would be branded as downers and butchered. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Fort Apache, The Alamo, Duel in the Sun, How the West was Won, Red River, Stagecoach, etc.
    The Searchers would be in this group. I know...most are given four stars.

    There have been few truly great westerns, which distresses me, as this is my favorite genre. The 3;10 to Yuma and The Appaloosa, the contemporaneous ungulates, are poor representatives of their heritage.


    ...more info
  • Wayne's acting is so wooden......
    I have never been a John Wayne fan and I am surprised that this movie has gotten so many high praise reviews. I think it runs too long and the actors in it led by Wayne are all pretty much wooden. There is no humanity here at all....more info
  • A Blu-ray demo disk you /have/ to own.
    The image quality of "The Searchers" is nothing short of startling. We'll get to that after I've lit into the film. Yes, I'm going to tear to pieces what is generaly considered one of /the/ great American films, and (by many people) the best Western ever made.

    John Ford was a great director, but I've never cared much for his Westerns. Maybe I'm tired of seeing Ward Bond play the same role again and again. Or perhaps it's just that I don't care for John Wayne, who is hardly my model of ideal manliness. (Jimmy Stewart was ten times the man John Wayne was.)

    "The Searchers" has two major problems, neither of which -- as far as I know -- has ever been pointed out. (After writing this, I browsed the Amazon reviews and found that other people have almost-identical reservations.) They render it a far poorer film than it could or should have been.

    The first is that it tries to tell two stories that have little to do with each other, and fail to mesh in any meaningful way. The primary story is Ethan and Martin's five-year search for Ethan's kidnapped niece. This is intercut with the broadly comic narrative of Laurie's frustration at trying to get Martin to come back and marry her. (Note Ken Curtis, later Festus on "Gunsmoke", as her dorky, guitar-strumming suitor.)

    It doesn't work. The search is morbidly dark, while Laurie's plight is silly beyond belief. Any possibility of dramatic unity -- this is, after all, a serious film about a serious subject -- is destroyed. (Aristotle would have heartily agreed.)

    Which brings us to the other problem. John Wayne was no actor. He was more than a decade from reaching the point where he could turn in a credible/creditable performance (Rooster Cogburn in "True Grit", for which he won an undeserved Oscar). In "The Searchers" he is still John Wayne, with a limited performance range that doesn't extend beyond what John Wayne, the man, is capable of.

    True, Wayne had a difficult job for any actor -- he had convey his hatred of Indians and desire to kill Debbie for 99% of the film -- then abruptly change his mind. The problem is that we see no motivation for the change. He picks her up, she looks frightened (she knows what he intends), and then, out of nowhere, "Let's go home, Debbie." *

    It just isn't believable. Ford should have shown us John Wayne's face, so that we could have gotten /some/ idea of what was going through his mind. Why he doesn't is anyone's guess. Did he think Wayne was incapable of believably revealing his change of heart? Or did it never cross Ford's mind? Regardless, the film lands with a dramatic "thud" -- Something Important happens, but we don't have the least idea /why/. The moment the story is building up to /never occurs/.

    "The Searchers" would have worked far better if it had stuck with the search, and ignored just about everything else. Yes, it would have been an even darker film, but it would have packed a far stronger punch.

    So why do people hold "The Searchers" in such high esteem? The reason appears to be that it was one of the first "deconstuctionist" Westerns. ** Ethan Edwards is bluntly racist, and is determined to find his niece so he can kill her. She's been polluted by her five-year contact with the "Comanch", and his no longer a "white" woman. *** She'd be better off dead, and Ethan is the man to do it. But however awful the Indians' behavior is, we are not on Ethan's side. Our broad sympathies lie with the Indians, not the Americans. ****

    Unfortunately, "The Searchers" doesn't achieve what it sets out to do. It's all hat and no cattle. You don't get points for trying to be profound -- you actually have to achieve it. In this, "The Searchers" fails quite badly. It's easy to imagine a remake that's far superior to the original.

    As for the transfer... Oh... my... God... I couldn't believe it. It appears to have been derived from the VistaVision camera negatives. I have never seen a more exquisitely sharp and detailed video image (and with zero apparent edge enhancement). Ford's use of multiple image planes, some in-focus, the others out -- is clearly displayed. *****

    Please note that in the supplemental material, someone describes "The Searchers" as having been filmed in three-strip Technicolor, which it almost certainly wasn't. And Martin Scorsese avers that VistaVision has greater depth of field than conventional 35mm movies. Wrong -- it has less. (It's hard to understand how someone who's been making films for four decades doesn't understand Photography 101.)

    If you're a fan of "The Searchers", do yourself a favor and get the Blu-ray. Even if you don't care for the film, buy it anyhow. It's a great demo disk. This was a film /made/ for VistaVision ("Motion Picture High Fidelity") -- the scenery alone is worth the price of admission.

    * One critic suggested that it's touching Debbie that causes his transformation. He can't bring himself to kill the flesh-and-blood being he knew as a child.

    ** It also appears to be one of the first to make a stab at proper cowboy attire. Note the dusters on several characters.

    *** Another minor problem... Kidnapped whites almost always preferred living with the Indians. Debbie's willingness to return is not implausible, but it is unlikely.

    **** According to the supplemental material, "The Searchers" was the first Western to show a lot of dead Indians lying around after having been massacred by whites.

    ***** This is common in Ford's films. Did it have anything to his being blind in one eye?...more info
  • Warrior Ethic
    I have viewed this movie many times and each time I come away from it a little richer. I recently watched an 'American Masters' biography of John Ford and the narrator gave the most exact description of the Ethan Edwards character that I think can be given: 'he was the kind of man that civilization must have but also the kind that can never live in civilization'.

    Society has always been faced with the need to decide whether or not it will acknowledge the honor that men like Ethan Edwards have earned. Sadly, for the past 40 years, we have been drifting away from them, preferring to think that our own politically correct 'moral rectitude' contains a self-defending mechanism. People who support this view are frequently heard warning us 'not to become like our enemies'. First and foremost, this is shameful because it necessarily devalues the sacrifice of the warrior. But it is also foolish. At some point our decadent society will need an Ethan Edwards for its very survival. The question remains as to whether we will then find him from within our midst....more info
  • The Searchers
    A classic film about human emotions regardless of genre and on the same footing as Casablanca....more info