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The Searchers is one of those films that folks are not in in universal agreement on. While many people love it and consider it a classic (and it did inspire many of the filmmakers who began working in the 1970s), there are just as many people who consider it a racist film and don't consider it a classic because of the sterotypes and feel that Ford overemphasises and glorifies Ethan's attitudes.

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Hello Ralph,

 

I had lunch with my mother today and told her about that rumour about Dolores Gray being the mother of Jack Wrangler. To my amazement, she knew who Jack Wrangler was and told me that it was common knowledge among some of her friends in the 70's that he possessed such a spectacular 'item' that it was called "a rib tickler"........ Ha, ha, ha -- don't you love it!!!!!!

 

She didn't think Dolores would have liked the rumour though. DG was like Jack Benny and was always 39, maybe even 29.......

 

Larry

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Larry -

 

So we're never to old to learn from our parents, are we? They can still amaze us! I know about Mr. Wrangler's spectacular endowment (don't ask!), and now I remember the talk around town as to why Margaret Whiting stuck with him.

 

Ralph

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Do people think because Wayne's character is a racist that is reason to discount the quality of the film? Ethan Edwards hates the Indian for what his experience has been with them. I think the film draws its power from his hatred. That doesn't mean we like him but I think it is a reason to understand him. I'm not sure Hunter's character would fall into that category. I think he's more like the audiences outlook. Ethan's attitudes are important because he is the center of the movie. (I'm not saying you are saying these things. I know your'e sharing opinions out there)

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Do people think because Wayne's character is a racist that is reason to discount the quality of the film? Ethan Edwards hates the Indian for what his experience has been with them. I think the film draws its power from his hatred.

 

Sorry, but this is just plain wrong. Ethan doesn't hate Indians. In fact, he respects and even admires them (there's a reason why he knows what the Comanches will do and why they do it at every turn). He's more Indian than any other White Man in the story, and one begins to wonder whether Ethan even is 100% white.

 

What Ethan loathes is the mixing of the races. He believes that Indians and Whites must remain in their own respective worlds, and that any interaction, especially sexual, is an abomination. It's at the heart of the whole story, and is the motivation for his and Marty's search for the kidnapped Lucy and Debbie.

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Is "The Searchers" an original screenplay or is it based on a book or short story (as "Brokeback Mountain" is)? Even though "The Searchers" is my second favorite movie of all time, I don't know the answer to this. Pkease don't tell me it's based on a Louis Lamour novel!

 

CineSage, I agree with your first paragraph (although I have never wondered if Ethan was pure white - whatever that is). But not with your second paragraph; what is that based on? Unless I have forgotten something, Ethan's motivation (the heart of the story) is simply to find the girls. It is when he discovers what has happened to Debbie that he wants her dead. If she had simply been living with the indians and had not been despoiled (is that a word?) by an indian buck, he would have taken her back home with him. Right?

 

If the girls had been kidnapped by whites, he would still have gone looking for them, wouldn't he?

 

Am I wrong?

 

Ralph

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?Unless I have forgotten something, Ethan's motivation (the heart of the story) is simply to find the girls. It is when he discovers what has happened to Debbie that he wants her dead. If she had simply been living with the indians and had not been despoiled (is that a word?) by an indian buck, he would have taken her back home with him. Right??

 

No.

 

This was a well-known problem in the old West. This is what some indians were notorious for. This is specifically why women were kidnapped by them. This is why some of the villages of some of the wild tribes in the West were wiped out by the US Army. This is one reason why they were called ?savages.? This is why the girls Ethan found being guarded at the military fort had gone crazy. This is why Shelly Winters knew to save the last bullet for herself in ?Winchester 73?.

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Mixing of the races would go hand in hand with his hatred. (He couldn't stand to be with Jeffrey Hunter most of the movie.) He shoots the eyes out of the buried Indian so that by their way they won't enter the spirit world. His continual shooting at the river is stopped by Ward Bond because he thinks it's gone too far. I think part of the motivation is revenge.

 

After all isn't the best way to deal with your "enemies" is to learn as much as you can about them. You learn how to anticipate their moves, their thinking, the way they react to things.

 

The points are well taken.

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Is "The Searchers" an original screenplay or is it based on a book or short story (as "Brokeback Mountain" is)? Even though "The Searchers" is my second favorite movie of all time, I don't know the answer to this. Pkease don't tell me it's based on a Louis Lamour novel!>>

 

Ralph,

 

It was adapted by Frank Nugent (frequent writer of John Ford screenplays) from a book by Alan LeMay.

 

My favorite scene: when Martha is taking care of Ethan's Confederate coat. Without a single word in just the way she handles the coat you know that she and Ethan were once involved and that she still loves him. And Ethan, he's still in love with her. She's the reason he visits the homestead.

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Sorry, but this is just plain wrong. Ethan doesn't hate Indians. In fact, he respects and even admires them (there's a reason why he knows what the Comanches will do and why they do it at every turn). He's more Indian than any other White Man in the story, and one begins to wonder whether Ethan even is 100% white.>>

 

Ethan has the same blue eyes as Marty and Scar. I always took that to mean that Ethan was Scar's half brother and Marty possibly Scar's son.

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I didn?t notice the thing about the blue eyes. I wonder if that information is in the book? It could be a hint that they are all related.

 

The thing about Ethan is this: When the wilder Indian men kidnapped white women or girls, they would usually rape them, and sometimes it would be a gang rape, and the age of the girl didn?t matter. She could be a child. Later, one of the stronger men in the tribe would take the girl for one of his wives. This is why the young women who are being held at the fort (in the movie) after being recaptured from the Indians were all crazy. This is why the older sister who was kidnapped began to scream in her house when she realized why her mother didn?t want any lights on and why her father went outside with the gun. She knew about this custom of the Indian raiders and she was terrified of being captured. The younger girl didn?t scream because she was too young to know about this wild-Indian custom. This is why there was the old story in movies about how women should ?save the last bullet for yourself? during a shoot-out with Indians, and this is meaning of the old phrase, ?a fate worse than death.? This kind of capture and abuse was ?a fate worse than death? for the women and girls.

 

Ethan hated the wild Indians because of this habit of theirs.

 

He got along ok with the non-wild ones, such as the ones he traded blankets with. Out in the West there were peaceful Indians and wild Indians. Quite a lot of white men in the 19th Century married Indian girls from the non-wild tribes. Some of those tribes were parts of the Navajos and most of the Pueblos. The Pueblos were mostly in New Mexico, around Santa Fe and Albuquerque, and over toward Grants and Gallup, and as far West as the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Mesas of the Hopis in Arizona, which are West of Window Rock and East of Tuba City.

 

The Pueblo tribes were the most settled and civilized. Generally speaking, they were never driven off their land by whites. They were granted ?reservations?, where they already lived, specifically to keep whites from stealing any of their land or settling on it. In the late 19th Century the Hopis petitioned the US government for definite reservation boundaries to keep the Navajos from encroaching on their land. The Hopis and Navajos are still arguing in federal courts today about their land boundaries.

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This is why the older sister who was kidnapped began to scream in her house when she realized why her mother didn?t want any lights on and why her father went outside with the gun. She knew about this custom of the Indian raiders and she was terrified of being captured.

 

Nope. She was just as terrified of being killed along with her family.

 

Ethan hated the wild Indians because of this habit of theirs.

 

And nope. As I explained below, he doesn't care whether the sex between Whites and Indians is forced or consensual. He hates the very idea of mixed-breed offspring, no matter how they come about.

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No, the film was based on true facts of the old West. You might not realize why she had such a terrified expression on her face if you are not familiar with this area of the West in the 1860s and ?70s. The older girl, having lived out in the West for a while, would have known what would happened to her if she was captured, and girls of her age were often captured and abused by the Indian raiders. She knew she would be kidnapped and passed around among the Indian men, and that is why she screamed in such a terrified way. It was more than just a matter of a fear of death. Again, the big clue is the girls being held at the fort who had gone crazy under such treatment by the Indian men who had captured them. This is a topic that modern Indian movies don?t discuss.

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