The Searchers (1956)
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Dated and silly. John Wayne's character is very unlikable. He is not a flawed character a la Travis Bickle, he is just a douche. And why did Debbie suddenly changed her mind and wanted to go back with Ethan and Martin?
Great cinematoraphy and composition. Poor acting, plot, and dialogue.. Did not really like this one
Watched this got a second time after ten year gap, still didn't find it to be brilliant, too tongue in cheek.
This is one of the only "great" movies whose place in various Top 250 lists I question. There are many well-regarded movies which I don't personally care for while still acknowledging the greatness of the films themselves: their story, acting, production, direction, cinematography, etc.
But The Searchers?
The overall story is indeed pretty epic, and it has that going for it, but the details of the story just didn't work. The movie does little to convince me why John Wayne and his sidekick would spend so many . . . not months . . . but YEARS searching for the lost girl. After each "two years later" kind of jump in the story, I kept asking "why?!?"
Also, the rampant sexism and racism may have been acceptable in 1953, and I can almost always forgive it in other classic movies because those aspects reflected the values at the time the films were made, but I feel like The Searchers takes it one step too far by twisting a lot of the sexist and racist comments and actions into slapstick humour attempts. Okay, so in 1953 many Americans felt that a Comanche woman is a lower life form than a white man -- I get that -- and so the characters are going to treat her in a condescending way. But depicting white men kicking a Comanche woman down a hill while laughing at the situation (and judging by the sound effects and music at that time, expecting me to laugh at it as well) was just shameful, by any standards. It would be as if a sad trombone sound played every time a slave was whipped in a pre-civil war movie. Sure, show it like it is, but don't make a joke out of it. I just can't forgive it. Other attempts at humour in the movie were less offensive, but still tacky, in my opinion.
And lastly, Monument Valley, Utah, is far too iconic to pass as Texas; it would be like shooting a "New York" movie right next to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It may look nice, but it just doesn't fit.
By all accounts, this isn't a "bad" movie, but I wonder how much of its Top 250 status is due to nostalgia (it's John Wayne's biggest movie!!!) as opposed to true critical opinion.
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In 24 official lists
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This movie ranks #8 in Sight & Sound's The Greatest Films of All Time
This movie ranks #9 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films
This movie ranks #10 in Cahiers du Cinéma's 100 Films for an Ideal Cinematheque
This movie ranks #12 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies
This movie ranks #16 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown
This movie ranks #17 in A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese
This movie ranks #20 in Library of Congress's National Film Registry
This movie ranks #22 in IMDb's Western Top 50
This movie ranks #40 in Taschen's 100 All-Time Favorite Movies
This movie ranks #65 in Leonard Maltin's 100 Must-See Films of the 20th Century
This movie ranks #71 in BFI's 100 Road Movies
This movie ranks #77 in BFI's 100 Westerns
This movie ranks #144 in Roger Ebert's Great Movies
This movie ranks #164 in Empire's The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time
This movie ranks #212 in Mark Cousins's The Story of Film: An Odyssey
This movie ranks #248 in BFI's 360 Classic Feature Films Project
This movie ranks #303 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #411 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Cinema
This movie ranks #441 in Jennifer Eiss's 500 Essential Cult Movies
This movie ranks #466 in Emma Beare's 501 Must-See Movies
This movie ranks #530 in David Thomson's Have You Seen?
This movie ranks #754 in The New York Times's Book of Movies
This movie ranks #789 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #810 in Time Out's 1000 Films to Change Your Life