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The Searchers (1956)

Approved  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Western  |  13 March 1956 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 58,688 users  
Reviews: 430 user | 144 critic

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



(screenplay), (from the novel by) (as Alan LeMay)
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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
Charlie McCorry
Brad Jorgensen
Emilio Gabriel Fernandez y Figueroa
Beulah Archuletta ...
Walter Coy ...
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 story that sweeps from the great Southwest to the Canadian border in VistaVision. 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?


The Mexican man who takes the searchers to meet Chief Scar is called Emilio Gabriel Fernandez y Figueroa. The name of this character, played by Antonio Moreno, is a combination of the names of Mexican actor and director Emilio Fernandez and his cinematographer, Gabriel Figueroa, both of whom were friends of director John Ford. See more »


Although the movie is set between 1868 and 1973, several characters are seen wearing Levi's jeans (complete with stitching on the back pocket and signature red Levi's tag). Levi's didn't patent a blue jean until 1873, and the name "Levi's" wasn't patented until 1928. 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 »


Featured in 100 Years at the Movies (1994) See more »


Traditional Irish tune
Heard in score
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

New Discoveries
12 December 2000 | by (New Orleans LA) – See all my reviews

About ten minutes into the film, there is a shot which begins with Captain Clayton (Ward Bond) slamming a door behind two children who were teasing two young lovers, Lucy and Brad. There follows a wordless interior shot, lasting maybe a minute, wherein Aunt Martha takes out Ethan's Confederate overcoat, tenderly caressing it before she hands it to Ethan. I noticed the sequence when I recently watched the film again, and I had to rewind and play it once more because I found it so stunning--all of the information and emotions conveyed without a word. I'd watched the film previously maybe a dozen times and had never noticed the power of this sequence.

Don't for a second tell me that Ethan is a stereotype, because there is so much more at work here. Obviously we are not supposed to sympathize with Ethan's prejudices, but notice that Ethan is not the only one who feels that way. Laurie (not at all disapprovingly) tells Martin that Aunt Martha would have preferred her daughter to be killed after being defiled. Interestingly, Martin is one-eighth Cherokee, which under the old racial percentages of the Confederacy would make him the equivalent of an octoroon, and therefore non-white. Martin's intended marriage to Laurie, on racial terms, would have been as taboo as Debbie marrying Scar: Laurie believes that death is preferable for Debbie, but she intends to do likewise with Martin. The contrast is that Debbie was abducted, whereas Laurie would willingly go. And note at the end that Laurie walks right by Debbie, as she heads for Martin.

The final shot is famous, but I noted the doorway theme throughout the film: the message of an open or closed door, whether the character enters the door or just looks in, at other times, the character is inside looking out. And all of this in a 50's western.

The movie is not perfect: I could have done without some of the comic relief. However, this is John Wayne's best work (The Shootist is a close second). Those who think this is the best film of all time have good reason to support their belief.

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