Monday, May 6, 2013
You are invited to join us in a discussion of The Searchers, a new book on John Ford's boldest Western, which cast John Wayne against type as the vengeful Ethan Edwards who spends eight years tracking down a notorious Comanche warrior, who had killed his cousins and abducted a 9 year old girl. The film has had its fair share of detractors as well as fans over the years, but is consistently ranked in most critics' Top Ten Greatest Films.
Glenn Frankel examines the origins of the story as well as the film itself, breaking his book down into four parts. The first two parts deal with Cynthia Ann Parker and her son Quanah, perhaps the most famous of the 19th century abduction stories. The short third part focuses on the author of the novel, Alan Le May, and how he came to write The Searchers. The final part is about Pappy and the Duke and the making of the film.
Frankel noted that Le May researched 60+ abduction stories, fusing them together into a narrative that focused on Edwards, as told by Martin Pawley, a half-Indian, who joined him on the search for the lone surviving girl from a Comanche raid on a Texas homestead. For Le May this was native turf, and he was a little disappointed that Ford chose to cast the film largely in Monument Valley, which was outside the Comancheria at the time. But, Ford had used Monument Valley before and liked working with the Navajo, who he used as extras. It suited his artistic vision.
Read along with us, or offer your own thoughts on the film, the early abduction stories or the Western film genre, which in many ways Ford redefined with this film.
Here's a link to the opening discussion we had on the film.