I Hate To Admit It, But I Didn’t Love The Searchers (1956)

For whatever reason, I’ve never gotten into westerns. When I was a kid, I’d instantly turn off Gunsmoke reruns on Nick at Night and never found myself watching a John Wayne or Clint Eastwood cowboy movie on Saturdays with my dad. Maybe it’s because Ohio is so far away from the west or the genre had mostly died out by the 80s when I was starting to watch and understand movies, but I just neither cared for nor was exposed to westerns.

But, between reading Preacher–which features the ghost of John Wayne prominently as well as plenty of references to his movies including The Searchers— and enjoying A Fistful Of Dollars which I should have blogged about and the Rat Pack western Sergeants 3, I thought it was about time to sit down and watch one of the most well-regarded westerns of all time: The Searchers. Not only does this one star The Duke, but it’s directed by John Ford, the king of the 50s western. Oh, it’s also considered one of the best films of all time, ranking pretty high on lots of lists. We’re talking all movies, not just westerns. But, unfortunately, I didn’t fall in love with it.

I dug the story about John Wayne and his young friend tracking down the Indians who killed their family/friends and trying to find any of the womenfolk who were abducted in the raid. It’s a long and tiring story, not just for the viewer, but for the characters as their journey spans many years and includes everything from accidental marriage to throw downs with enemies of all kinds. Don’t get me wrong, I love John Wayne, his character and attitude throughout the movie, but after watching it I didn’t think to myself “Damn, that’s one of the greatest movies of all time.” When I watched Citizen Kane for the first time in my college film class I wasn’t all that thrilled, but then the professor explained that it revolutionized film from both a storytelling and filming standpoint. Am I just not getting Searchers? Please, if you’re a fan of The Searchers, tell me why in the comments section. I usually don’t mind not liking a well-regarded flick, but I always like talking about movies and am curious to see if anyone’s got some information or a take on the movie that I might have missed. It seemed like your basic revenge story (a good one, mind you) but it didn’t feel elevated to that upper echelon of films in my head. So, hit me up and let me know why you dig the movie (or feel free to agree with me, I’m cool with that too).

2 thoughts on “I Hate To Admit It, But I Didn’t Love The Searchers (1956)

  1. I made it a point last year to watch this genre more. The Searchers was on my list and I completely agree with you:

    http://thelowerlife.blogspot.com/2010/04/182-searchers.html

    I think I really dig the later 60s & 70s westerns (especially Leone – Once Upon a Time in the West was so epic and awesome). But this movie was pretty awful. And I watched True Grit too, another John Wayne one (which the Coen brothers are remaking!), where he plays pretty much the same character and that one wasn’t that great either.

    It think part of it has to do with how dated these films feel and look. There’s really no emotional weight to the movies and that hurts their lasting appeal.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.