I've been watching a lot of Westerns recently. It's an interesting genre to me – for most of my life I've shied away from such things, not really grasping the appeal of all-American cowboys strutting around shootin' Injuns (political incorrectness intended for satirical purposes – don't sue me, please). But then I saw a little film called “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” starring Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne and directed by John Ford. I was quite taken with the story, in which a big-city lawyer moves out west and has to deal with the harsh realities of this foreign land. From there I immediately discovered Spaghetti Westerns, the sub-genre that emerged when Italian directors became fascinated with this uniquely American style. Sergio Corbucci's “Django” is ridiculously awesome, and just last week I finished the five Westerns helmed by filmmaking genius Sergio Leone, most famous for “A Fistful of Dollars” and “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”
But let's get back to John Ford. He is perhaps THE name in American Westerns, having directed 140 films in the span of 50 years (not all of them Westerns, but still), 21 of those starring John Wayne. Anyone who has read the title of this article knows where this is going: yes, we are going to focus on “The Searchers.”
Cited by my friend Matt as “the greatest American Western ever made,” “The Searchers” tells the story of Civil War veteran Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) whose niece is kidnapped by Native Americans. With the help of his nephew, he spends years searching (get it?) for her, only to find some shocking truths. (Oh, and troublesome racism is involved because, you know, John Wayne.)
“The Searchers” plays twice today – at 2:00 and 7:00 – at Tinseltown as part of the Cinemark Classics series. Tinseltown is located at 4400 Towne Center Drive, in the Springhurst Shopping Center. Further theater information can be found at the Tinseltown website.
Oh, and by the way, my friend is wrong: “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” is much better than “The Searchers” - he just hasn't seen that one yet. (“The Searchers” is still quite good, though.)
Image: Internet Movie Database