Saturday, July 16, 2011

7. The Searchers (1956) 5/10


-You wanna quit, Ethan?
-That'll be the day.

Quality - 3/5
Enjoyability - 2/5

Okay, I get it. This movie took a generation of Cowboys vs. Indians westerns and completely turned the genre on its ear. It dared to show extreme character flaws in its protagonist/hero. It laid the groundwork and influenced directors for the next fifty years; everything from "Star Wars" to Eastwood's "spaghetti" westerns to "Taxi Driver". I get it, but it doesn't make it a good film. I have heard people say this about movies such as "Citizen Kane" and "Gone with the Wind". That they were important but did not age well and don't hold up today, but this is something different. Those films don't stack up because movies have evolved and they are overly slow and tedious, but the films are still quality to productions. "The Searchers" is simply a bad movie.

Bad acting, an offensively simple script, a grand total of zero truly likable characters, and an inexcusable amount of racism and sexism even for the mid-'50s. I don't think I'll ever really "get" John Wayne. I guess he's a hero to those that long for the day where their Black servant was fetching them water while they shot Injuns and their subservient wife was busy with housework for fear of being smacked down. The movie's one saving grace is the camerawork and direction of John Ford. This movie is easily one of the prettiest movies ever filmed, both in terms of scenery and framing. Too bad it was wasted on a movie about shooting people in the back, blaming a girl for her own kidnapping and (implied) sexual battery, and scalping a German guy who just happened to be portraying a Comanche chief.

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