The Searchers -- 94 pts. I thought this would be a good time to revisit this movie and it's been sitting on my DVR for sometime. The American Film Institute lists it as the number one western of all time. On any given day for me it rotates with The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and Unforgiven. They also put it number 18 on their list of the all times best movies. This I disagree with.
Some new things I noticed. First looking at the cinematography by Winston C. Hoch. The blacks he creates for the interiors of some of the cabins is quite amazing. It is very difficult to pull off as recently explained in a documentary on Gordon Willis on his work in The Godfather. They also take courage from the director because you wind up with a negative that is essentially clear in the dark areas. If you have to make a color or lighting correction you don't have much to work with. And this brings me to the work of those unseen technicians behind the scenes; in this case Technicolor color consultant James Gooch. This was his last film and as he so often did showed himself the master of the Technicolor three strip process. I have never seen better looking day for night scenes and much the in the studio process work comes out looking very natural. In fact near the end watch how they take the day for night of our heroes looking from the cliff down at the Indian village and cut to a shot of that Village shot in the studio but with continuous look of day for night. Other fine examples of his work can be seen in Singing in the Rain, An American in Paris, Show Boat and Annie Get Your Gun.
John Ford, like Alfred Hitchcock, began his career making silents. Like Hitchcock he is as teller of the story in pictures, not words. You can see this in the way he tells us the story of the kidnapped girl. First in her abduction and then in the discovery of it by Wayne and others.
For those that knock John Wayne as an actor he shows his range by the expression of horror when he sees the burnt out cabin. Also in his rage when he discovers and tries to hide the murder (and presumed rape) of the older daughter. "What do you want me to do? Spell it out for you?" Another favorite line is when Jeffery Hunter says, "I hope you die." Wayne snaps back, "That will be the day."
A great cast of wonderful supporting actors, many of them Ford regulars that makes for at least a dozen great scenes in many different settings. And to top it off, one of Max Steiner's better and not so over the top score. I find myself haunted by this movie each time I see it.
"Let's go home, Debbie."