Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Searchers: A First-time Viewing. Or: Barney Scares the Heck Out of ME!


I finally understand why everyone thinks this is one of the greatest movies ever!

Now, personally, I'm not one to exactly embrace those "greatest, most brilliant, God's gift to humankind" type of films. In fact, they usually annoy me to slow death. I actually go OUT OF MY WAY to dislike them. My mum claims I have some complex against popular things, which COMPELS me to always love whatever is less loved. I have NO idea WHAT she talking about! I, mean, it's clearly been proven by now that The Monkees were brilliance-personified-- unlike that "other" British band. SHEESH!

Anyway, today, my dad and youngest brother (ten) were the only ones home, so in the late afternoon we sat down to watch The Searchers. My dad got it for his birthday last week, but neither of us had seen it before.

It oddly reminded me of the first time I saw Red River. I was seven or eight, and I watched it with my dad (who had just received the brand-new VHS for Father's Day) and oldest brother (then twelve or thirteen).

As you can see, I have been a western fan for a LONG time. I completely adore westerns in every form and medium. I don't even remember the first western I watched. It was probably something dorky like Hopalong Cassidy. ;-D

I mean, I actually used to have recurring nightmares when I was six. It would always be late at night, and Barney (as in the frightening, more than likely demonic, purple dinosaur) would come into my bedroom and try to kidnap me. But then the door would burst open and in would come The Lone Ranger or Roy Rogers or one of the Cartwrights to rescue me and knock-out Barney.

I have a great love for westerns.

I watched Barney, JUST ONCE, when I was four. I turned the TV off in disgust...and went and watched My Man Godfrey instead! ;-D

Okay, this is getting WAAAY off-track!

Anyway (I REALLY need to look up a synonym for "anyway"), I watched The Searchers with my dad and youngest brother. What an amazing film. It was a definite "experience" movie (I think I stole that line from Kate or Sarah or possibly someone else! ;-D). I was completely wrapped up in it. The cinematography was actually worthy of the term "breath-taking". I've never been a HUGE fan of John Ford (sacrilege, I know!), but this film completely made me understand his talent. He HAD to be talented to make Jeffrey Hunter look like a halfway-competent actor (I am seriously way too mean)! And this is rather random, but - as long as I'm being mean - was Lana Wood annoying in EVERYTHING SHE EVER APPEARED IN?!

Anyway (still too lazy to google a synonym), I really enjoyed watching it with my dad, even though he did get annoyed at my random observations: "Don't worry, Debbie's not dead. She hasn't turned into Natalie Wood yet"; "Aww, it's redemption!" (at the ending! ;-D) And, I think the both of us spent FAR too much time trying to decide which character was John Wayne's real-life son (for most of the film, I was counting on his early-demised nephew being Pat Wayne-- until the bumbling lieutenant showed up! The physical resemblance was too much!).

In conclusion, (I totally just heard Ted Baxter say, "Somehow you don't laugh at a man, when he says 'In conclusion' ".) this was movie was REALLY BRILLIANT. This is different from the brilliant I call every other movie I remotely like. This is true brilliance. And, it's definitely a movie I won't forget!


So, any Searchers fans out there?! What is your favorite thing about the movie?


Anonymous said...

Loved your review...especially loved Barney showing up! I'm gonna have to watch this movie...

vagabondshoes said...

Barney is terrifying. never was a fan.

NoirGirl said...

Ooh! We have this on DVD, too but I've never seen it. I'll have to dig it out because I am quite dying to see John Wayne's son now!

What marvelous taste you had when you were little. I suffered with Barney for quite some time before I was rescued by infinitely better shows like Clarissa Explains it All, Where in the World is Carmen Sandeigo? and Ghostwriter.

I loved the story about your dream! Hahaaa!!!

C.K. Dexter Haven said...

I first saw The Searchers in 1997 and I knew next to nothing about the movie, as there wasn't so much blab about its greatness. Yes, I love it and it moves me to tears every time, especially that ending...and those lyrics:

Jennythenipper said...

I've seen it several times, but recently I was on a lane to Europe and this was in the entertainment system. I watched it three times, once with the sound off, just soaking up the cinematography. This movie wasn't instant love for me, but over umpteen viewings I've come to appreciate John Wayne's characterization.

Elisabeth said...

The Searches isn't my all-time favorite western, but I agree, the gorgeous cinematography is the best thing about it. And Max Steiner's score, which is a little uncharacteristic for him. You know, I read somewhere that both Steiner and Ford disliked the score, because Ford thought Steiner was overscoring it and Steiner was mad that Ford cut a lot of his music out! The music in the opening scene is interesting, because if you recognize the tunes you'll see how the use of Civil War songs clues you in to elements of the plot - 'Lorena,' which is about lost love, being used as Martha's theme, for instance.

Funniest moment has got to be Ken Curtis' line 'I'll thank you to take your hands off my fi-an-see.' And the ending always gives me a little lump in the throat. You noticed the symbolism, of course - the way Ethan picked Debbie up the first time as a little girl, and then again when he found her at the end?

Olivia said...

Yes, oh yes, I have to say that this is one of the "greats"! I remember the first time I saw it and how stunned I was by the AMAZING cinematography and the perfectly-suited musical score. "Wow" is all I can say!
Love it Millie, thanks for posting!!


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