The Searchers

I went out to work.  It wasn’t unbearably hot outside, but I felt fortunate to be working in an air-conditioned building.  I stopped for a hamburger on the way home.  I found my Raiders tickets waiting for me.  Inside the box was a set of pins.  I watched “The Searchers” again.  It looked very good but not pristine on Blu-ray.  The color photography is still impressive after all these years, and John Wayne gave his best performance.  I couldn’t stop thinking that the young Debbie was so foolish for talking to the dog, although I suppose Scar would have discovered her anyway.  The part where Martin trades for the blanket but ends up with the squaw made me laugh.  It did make me think back on “Jeremiah Johnson.”  On the other hand, the fight at the wedding didn’t make me laugh.  I had forgotten that Vera Miles was in this movie.  She seemed nothing like the woman she was in the Hitchcock films.  The attack on the Comanches at the end reminded me of Kurosawa and “Seven Samurai.”  Natalie Wood was the teenage Debbie, and she didn’t have much time on the screen.  Several shocking things aren’t explicitly stated or explicitly shown.  Is there something going on between Ethan and his sister-in-law?  What did the Comanches do to the women?  The story takes place from three years after the Civil War, going on for five years.  I thought it would take longer for all this to occur.  The television series “The Quest” and Paul Schrader’s “Hardcore” seemed to have origins with this movie.  I tried to imagine what it was like to see this movie in the theatre back in 1956.  It would have been different than seeing “The Hateful Eight” at the Grand Lake Theatre, which I did do.  “The Searchers” feels like it’s a movie that has been around forever.  I think I saw it on television many years ago when I was a child.  The subject matter is rather intense when you’re a kid watching all of us because the main character is set on killing the lost daughter.  It was also before I was aware of what conservatives John Ford and John Wayne were.  I can appreciate the discipline and the strong work ethic that Ford brought to his work.  I don’t know that he managed to complete this film, with the location far from civilization and transportation, and the broiling heat getting to 120 degrees.  Some of the winter scenes were shot in extreme cold, too.  I kept thinking about those horses going through the deep snow and the freezing cold water.  I would rate this as the greatest Western I’ve ever seen, although I did like “High Noon” very much.  In contrast to other movies, which generally feel like they run too long, I thought I could watch this movie for another hour.  The running time was 119 minutes.  John Wayne looked like a healthy man in this movie, where thirteen years later in “True Grit” he wouldn’t look so good.  The sadness of the last shot made me think of “The Last Hurrah.”  It seems that I see a lot of imitation of this shot in other movies.  I watched the end of “The Assassination Bureau.”  I don’t know how Oliver Reed escaped death at the end.  The special effects of the time were not fantastic.  Some of the people who died on August 3 include Joseph Conrad (1924), Flannery O’Connor (1964), Lenny Bruce (1966), Carolyn Jones (1983), Ida Lupino (1995), Alexander Solzhenitsyn (2008), and Bubba Smith (2011).  Today is a birthday for Martha Stewart (76), Martin Sheen (77), and Tony Bennett (91).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for August 3, Paul McCartney in 1971 announced the formation of his new band Wings.  In 1974, guitarist Jeff Baxter quit Steely Dan to join the Doobie Brothers.

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