Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Searchers (1956)

Forty seven is about as good an age to see John Ford's landmark western for the first time, ah reckon.
John Wayne and a defiantly blue eyed Cherokee "half breed" played by Jeffrey Hunter go off the ranch questing to steal back the Duke's niece from some ubiquitous indians.
In fact, Wayne and Hunter spent five desolate years wandering the wastes of Monument Valley searching for a girl that may have gone over to the Indian's side in the interim. Will Wayne stick by his "principles" and kill his niece (for shacking it up with a "Buck"), will Jeffrey Hunter (doomed by fate to be the Man Who Turned Down Star Trek) find love?
Now, under anyone else's direction this would be unmemorable rubbish, but John Ford turns this into a sort of Odyssey on Horseback, the damn film just gallops over it's inherent cliches.
Frankly, "The Searchers" is the movie "Avatar" desperately wants to be, a mass market adventure film with a strong dramtic core and plenty of high ending opportunities for actors to ply their craft.
Too bad James Cameron's computerized super-fantasy is so fatally hobbled by it's own lavish budget and setting. But then, the poor man didn't have access to the wonders of Monument Valley or that human mountain range, John Wayne...

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