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The Searchers


SWEETBABY007
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For the entire movie Ethan (John Wayne ) wants to kill Debbie (Natalie Wood). When he finally gets his chance, he instead rescues her. "Let's go home, Debbie." Ethan, stubborn and unbudging in actions and motive throughout the ENTIRE film, Why the sudden change? Why did he change his mind?

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My opinion: Ethan was conflicted all through the movie between his hatred for the "Indians" and desire to find Debby but his code of manliness would not let him show that. The first time Ethan and Marty tried to rescue her she had gone back with the tribe to save them so perhaps he realized that. When the final moment came family won out and he could not kill her.

 

It was also interesting that the rest of the folks wanted her back even though she had "been with a buck". This was not the way a woman in her shoes was treated in most movies.

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I agree.

 

I think through most of the movie it is about the Indians even though he says it's about Debbie. (Revenge for her kidnapping.) When he gets that out of his system I think it just comes down to she is his niece. She is the last of his real family. The last of Martha. (That is a whole different discussion we have had here.)

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I believe from the writer's standpoint, having Ethan kill Debbie would have killed the movie. Couldn't let that happen - in those times.

 

The way it was, taking us up to the edge of a cliff emotionally (Ethan going to kill Debbie), then yanking us back at the last second (letting her fall into his saving arms) was just what should have happened, IMO. This made for an excellent story from start (tension - the long build-up to the climax) to not killing Debbie (the release from the climax) and a nice, soft landing in The End.

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I have seen this film countless times and I never tire of it. Everything works here, sometimes it makes you uncomfortable watching, but the script, direction, acting and the beautiful scenic shots { they still take my breath away}, if only we could see it once more on the big screen.

 

Has anyone ever read the book by Alan LaMay? If you have not, then may I suggest you find a copy and see the difference between the film and book. LaMay wrote many books and screenplays over his career. Perhaps his other best known work is "The Unforgiven" with Burt Lancaster and Audrey Hepburn directed by John Huston. It is "The Seachers" in reverse, a white family raise an Indian girl as their own and the Indians come looking to take her back. Not in the same league as "The Seachers", but a solid western.Huston reteamed with his star of "The Red Badge of Courage" Audie Murphy and got a great performance . perhaps his best,out of him...

 

Edited by: fredbaetz on Dec 4, 2013 3:45 AM

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I saw this last summer on the big screen as well. The Cinemark theater chain runs a classic film every week and this was digitally restored to perfection. Some of the outdoor scenes were so bright that I almost winced.

It was a fair sized audience and some older fans had apparently brought some youngsters unfamiliar with the film. They sighed and laughed in all the right places and the chatter as they were leaving indicated that they were very impressed. It was great to see this in a communal setting once again.

Check the cinemark web site for their classic series schedule.

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  • 4 weeks later...

My only problem with this movie was Jeffrey Hunter's acting. I tried and tried to be patient with it because of the overall greatness of the movie. But I couldnt adjust. I thought he overacted many times and some of his lines were delivered just too overly done.

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Yeah, I don't either. Hunter's character Marty is supposed to be callow and play counterpoint to Wayne's mature, authoritative Ethan. I do think that Hunter was too old for the role.

The only actor I had problems with here was Ken Curtis. I read that Ford told him to play Charlie McCory with a hillbilly accent that Ken was fooling with, even though some of his character's scenes had already been filmed minus the twang. Of course, Curtis parlayed that accent into a whole late life career as Festus on Gunsmoke.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't think it's Jeffrey Hunter's acting that is a problem ( if one sees it as a problem - I don't) but the script and direction. I think his part is often used as comic relief in an otherwise intensely dramatic story and John Ford had it broadly played.

 

My only complaints about the film: the heavy Hollywood movie star make-up on Natalie Wood and the corny song (Sons of the Pioneers?) sung at the end of the movie.

 

And yes - The Searchers is gorgeous on the big screen. Living in Los Angeles in the pre - VCR days when there were a dozen revival houses in operation ( now there is one) I was fortunate to catch the movie on more than one occasion.

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