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The Searchers (1956)

Approved | | Adventure, Drama, Western | 13 March 1956 (USA)
2:52 | Trailer

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A Civil War veteran embarks on a journey to rescue his niece from an Indian tribe.



(screenplay), (from the novel by) (as Alan LeMay)
3,176 ( 78)
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lars Jorgensen
Olive Carey ...
Mrs. Jorgensen
Brad Jorgensen
Emilio Gabriel Fernandez y Figueroa
Beulah Archuletta ...
Aaron Edwards
Martha Edwards


Ethan Edwards, returned from the Civil War to the Texas ranch of his brother, hopes to find a home with his family and to be near the woman he obviously but secretly loves. But a Comanche raid destroys these plans, and Ethan sets out, along with his 1/8 Indian nephew Martin, on a years-long journey to find the niece kidnapped by the Indians under Chief Scar. But as the quest goes on, Martin begins to realize that his uncle's hatred for the Indians is beginning to spill over onto his now-assimilated niece. Martin becomes uncertain whether Ethan plans to rescue Debbie...or kill her. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Biggest, Roughest, Toughest ...and Most Beautiful Picture Ever Made! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





| |

Release Date:

13 March 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Más corazón que odio  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$3,750,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Ranked #1 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Western" in June 2008. See more »


When Martin is taking a bath, Laurie brings in 2 buckets of water and leaves them by the door. Then when the camera cuts to a close up of Martin in the tub, the buckets are next to the tub. When the camera pans back to a full shot, the buckets are by the door again. See more »


[first lines]
[seeing a horseman in the distance]
Aaron Edwards: Ethan?
Debbie Edwards: Hush, Prince.
Lucy Edwards: That's your Uncle Ethan!
Martha Edwards: [he approaches] Welcome home, Ethan!
See more »

Crazy Credits

This Warner Brothers film was said to be in VistaVision, according to the credits - this may be the only Warner film in VistaVision. See more »


Remade as Les Cowboys (2015) See more »


Shall We Gather at the River
(1864) (uncredited)
Written by Robert Lowry
Sung at funeral and later at wedding
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A disturbing meditation on racism, rancor and violence...

There are striking differences between 'Stagecoach' and 'The Searchers' reflecting a change more important than the mere passage of time:

  • 'Stagecoach' is a classic Western... 'The Searchers' is a rich


  • 'Stagecoach' explores major social issues and themes... 'The

Searchers' explores complex moral issues and myths concerning the frontier...

  • 'Stagecoach' captures frenetic action and awe-inspiring panoramas...

'The Searchers' captures the beauty and isolating danger of the frontier...

  • 'Stagecoach' is about characters of clashing social classes/values...

'The Searchers' is the complex story of a hate-ridden quest and odyssey of self-discovery...

  • 'Stagecoach' shows the classic attack on the stagecoach by the

rampaging Apaches... 'The Searchers' shows the Comanche attack on a home without ever showing the attack itself...

  • 'Stagecoach' shows one of the most enjoyable rides in cinema

history... 'The Searchers' shows the Old West as visually magnificent, but very dangerous to live in...

  • 'Stagecoach' captures the untamed, rocky wilderness in Black and

White... 'The Searchers' captures the vast, sprawling desert wilderness in grand Technicolor fashion...

  • 'Stagecoach" is the first movie Ford filmed in Utah's Monument

Valley... 'The Searchers' is the 9th time Ford shoots footage in Monument Valley...

  • 'Stagecoach' holds our attention because its story is in continual

change... 'The Searchers' hunts us for its unique cinematic art...

  • 'Stagecoach' made John Wayne a star... 'The Searchers' stars the

biggest Western star of all time the 'Duke.'

  • 'Stagecoach' is a picture that excites the sight... 'The Searchers'

is a film that moves the heart...

  • In 'Stagecoach' Wayne shoots and kills Apaches... In 'The Searchers'

he kills Comanches and even shoots two bullets at an Indian corpse...

  • In 'Stagecoach' John Wayne is a charming, reluctant outlaw... In 'The

Searchers' he is an embittered man, a prejudiced Indian hater...

  • The essence of 'Stagecoach' is the humanity that resides in all of

us... The essence of 'The Searchers' is one man's tragedy...

'The Searchers' is a stunning film with enormous scope, and breathtaking beauty, the ultimate meeting of two legends who frequently worked together—John Ford and John Wayne...

"The Searchers" brings the feeling to focus in the story of the abduction by Indians of two white girls and the long hunt for them that becomes a personal crusade…

"The Searchers" is about just such a raid and the terrible obsession of a man who seeks not only to rescue captives but to exact fearful vengeance…

John Wayne comes riding back from Confederate service in the Civil War, three years after it's over, to the Texan ranch he co-owns with his brother (Walter Coy). There's bitterness and mystery about the man… There are gold double eagles in his saddle-bags and there's a clammed up look in his eyes that says whatever he's done, or whatever he's been through, he's telling nothing… It's obvious, though, that he's glad to be home, that he's quite fond of his brother's wife (Dorothy Jordan), but he hates the fact that they've adopted a Cherokee half-breed (Jeffrey Hunter) into the family…

When Ward Bond, a preacher-cum-Rangers' captain, drops in to form a posse, Wayne goes along with him, only to find later that they've been decoyed away by Comanches… He gets back to learn that his brother, his wife, and their son have been killed and their two daughters have been abducted…

As always, certain words, sequences, images stay in the mind and evoke an emotional response:

  • The wind sweeping across the landscape and through a frontier woman's

black hair...

  • The homecoming of a lean ex-Confederate soldier (against a bright

sky) approaching a solitary house...

  • The sad reflective look of a loner, sitting on the porch with only a

dog for company...

  • A married woman seen, by a Captain/Reverend, taking out and gently

caressing her brother-in-law's cape in a manner that betrays her love for him...

  • The ride of the posse through the grandeur of Monument Valley,


  • White men riding scared through a valley while marauding Indians

surround them between two parallel lines...

  • The anguish face of a man agonizingly realizing that his brother's

family could be the target of a Comanche murder raid...

  • A shadow covering a ten year old girl, and the shocking view of an

Indian standing menacingly before her...

  • The catchphrase, 'That'll be the day!'

  • A long view of a two searchers riding along a ridge in front of a


  • The passionate frenzy of an avenging man, shooting wildly at a herd

of buffalo...

  • The 7th Cavalry riding beautiful horses in lines, galloping through

an icy river, and carrying colorful flags against the white of the snow...

  • Dignified women line up on one side, and their well-behaved men on

the other, to the tune of "Shall We Gather at the River."

  • The old man Mose, peacefully sitting, on the porch, in the family's

rocking chair...

'The Searchers' is a big motion picture that cries 'wilderness' and the images sustain it... The eye is constantly filled with space, and isolation... It is perhaps the first film to clearly investigate the emotional bases for the racial tensions between Indians and whites, and shows a shocking massacre of a Comanche village...

John Ford was certainly a fantasist that has meditated on the West for a long period of years and has created an imaginary West that is uniquely his own... Ford was a folk artist, a master storyteller, a poet of the moving image..

83 of 147 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Good film, not a great film... VivaAcetate
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John Wayne was just plain annoying, totally unlikeable Lin301
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