7.9/10
77,840
486 user 120 critic

The Searchers (1956)

Passed | | Adventure, Drama, Western | 26 May 1956 (USA)
Trailer
2:47 | Trailer
An American Civil War veteran embarks on a journey to rescue his niece from the Comanches.

Director:

John Ford

Writers:

Frank S. Nugent (screenplay), Alan Le May (from the novel by) (as Alan LeMay)
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Popularity
1,902 ( 1,190)
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Wayne ... Ethan Edwards
Jeffrey Hunter ... Martin Pawley
Vera Miles ... Laurie Jorgensen
Ward Bond ... Rev. Capt. Samuel Johnston Clayton
Natalie Wood ... Debbie Edwards - Age 15
John Qualen ... Lars Jorgensen
Olive Carey ... Mrs. Jorgensen
Henry Brandon ... Scar / Cicatriz
Ken Curtis ... Charlie McCorry
Harry Carey Jr. ... Brad Jorgensen
Antonio Moreno ... Emilio Gabriel Fernandez y Figueroa
Hank Worden ... Mose Harper
Beulah Archuletta Beulah Archuletta ... Look
Walter Coy ... Aaron Edwards
Dorothy Jordan ... Martha Edwards
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Storyline

After a long three-year absence, the battle-scarred Confederate veteran of the American Civil War, Ethan Edwards, turns up on the remote and dusty Texan homestead of his brother, Aaron. In high hopes of finding peace, instead, the taciturn former soldier will embark on a treacherous five-year odyssey of retribution, when the ruthless Chief Scar's murderous Comanche raiding party massacre his family, burn the ranch to the ground and abduct his nine-year-old niece, Debbie. Driven by hatred of Indians, Ethan and his young companion, Martin Pawley, ride through the unforgiving desert to track down their lost Debbie; however, is the woman they lost and the prisoner in Scar's teepee still the same woman the searchers seek? Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The story that sweeps from the great Southwest to the Canadian border in VistaVision. See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The screenplay was adapted by Frank S. Nugent from Alan Le May's 1954 novel of the same name, that was first serialized as a short story in late fall 1954 issues of the "Saturday Evening Post" and first titled, "The Avenging Texans". It was based on a an actual Comanche kidnapping of Cynthia Ann Parker, a young white girl in Texas in 1836. Cynthia Parker was later to become mother of Comanche chief Quanah Parker. See more »

Goofs

After the children go to sleep, Aaron's pipe disappears from his hand. Afterward, when he is hiding Ethan's money, the pipe reappears in his mouth. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Featured in Cinemassacre's Monster Madness: Robot Monster (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Skip to My Lou
(uncredited)
Traditional
Performed by Ken Curtis
See more »

User Reviews

 
Awesome and marvelous Western by the great John Ford and deemed by many to be his masterpiece
15 September 2014 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

A true classic of the Western genre with powerful scenes and spectacular outdoors . The story that sweeps from the great Southwest to the Canadian border in VistaVision . This nice and well-paced Western contains adventure , interesting characters , romance , shootouts and spectacular fights . Action Western is pretty good , stylishly developed , a first-rate story and powerful told too ; including a solid main and support cast lead some eye-catching performances . It deals with a Civil War veteran , Ethan Edwards (John Wayne as an embittered Indian-hating , ex-Confederate soldier gives his best acting through a long career) along with Martin Pawley (Jeffrey Hunter was nearly 29 at the time of filming, although his character was supposed to be a teenager , though Robert Wagner auditioned for the character) and Brad Jorgensen (Harry Carey Jr) embark on a relentless journey , spanning several years , to rescue his niece (Natalie Wood as a grown-up girl and his youngest sister Lana Wood as a child, the latter starred a bit later on a similar film titled Greyeagle) who was abducted years earlier from an Indian tribe . As desperate relatives spend years searching for their loved beings kidnapped by Indians in this lengthy Western . As time goes on , we begin to wonder whether Ethan is out to save his niece or kill her .

This nice as well as superb Western contains thoughtful characters , full of wide open space and dramatic moments . Outdoors are pretty good and well photographed by Winton C. Hoch , story first-rate and powerful told too . Here John Ford and John Wayne reached the peak of their successful and long screen collaboration . Considering the part of Ethan Edwards to be the best character he ever portrayed on-screen and his favorite film role, John Wayne named a son Ethan Wayne in homage . Thought-provoking , insightful screenplay portraying in depth characters and brooding events with interesting issues running beneath script surface . Over-the-top Western with trigger-taut drama , perfectly written by Frank S. Nugent who brings the story of the day the West will never forget from the 1954 novel by Alan Le May of the same name that was first serialized as a short story and first titled, "The Avenging Texans" , acknowledged similarities existed between the film's script and an actual Comanche kidnapping of Cynthia Ann Parker, a young white girl in Texas in 1836 . Marvelously shot Ford film with a lively look at the complex reintegration of captives . Ford's subsequent film ¨Two rode together¨ has a similar plot to ¨The searchers¨ though the Ford's vision about West is pretty cynical and less idealist . This classic and moving picture ranks as one of the main of John Ford's works , including settings , interpretations , cinematography all extraordinary . It contains Ford's usual themes as familiar feeling , a little bit enjoyable humor, friendship and sense of comradeship but also some cynicism and full of wide open spaces with breathtaking landscapes exceptionally filmed from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada , Durango , Mexico , Aspen , Gunnison , Colorado, Goosenecks State Park , Utah, and , of course , Monument Valley, Arizona . Sensitive and thrilling musical score by the classic composer Max Steiner , including wonderful songs . Ford gets to ensemble a magnificent supporting cast , plenty of familiar faces such as John Qualen , Olive Carey , Henry Brandon , Ken Curtis , Harry Carey Jr., film debut of Pippa Scott , Antonio Moreno , the role of a young cavalry officer, Lt. Greenhill, is played by Patrick Wayne, John Wayne's son and great featured-role acting by veteran War Bond . Furthermore , Hank Worden, whose role is loosely based on an actual historical personage called Mad Mose, a legendary half-crazy Indian fighter of the American southwest with a fondness for rocking chairs .

This picture is considered an American classic and is one of the greatest Western movies . This may be Ford's best Western , as many claim , but it's still head ad shoulders above most big-scale movies . In fact , it 's remade , copied and imitated many times since , such as Caravans , Greyeagle , Winterhawk .. . You'll find the final terrible or over-melodramatic according to your tastes , though it's lovingly realized by John Ford who really picks up the drama towards the ending . Rating : Essential and indispensable seeing ; being ranked #1 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Western" in June 2008 and as the #12 Greatest Movie of All Time.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Navajo | Spanish

Release Date:

26 May 1956 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Searchers See more »

Filming Locations:

Kayenta, Arizona, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,750,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

C.V. Whitney Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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