Saturday, March 9, 2013

Martin Scorsese Reviews 'The Searchers: The Making Of An American Legend

I'm a huge fan of the late great film director John Ford and the late great actor John Wayne. They made some great films together, including Fort Apache, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and The Searchers.

I'm also a huge fan of film director Martin Scorsese, who made one of the greatest crime films, Goodfellas.

So it was with some interest that I came across Martin Scorsese's Hollywood Reporter review of Glenn Frankel's book The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend. 

The Searchers has been more or less officially recognized as a great American classic. But I have to admit that I never really know what that kind of recognition amounts to. The film turns up on many 10-greatest-films-of-all-time lists, including my own. At least two moments from the picture -- John Wayne lifting up Natalie Wood and then cradling her in his arms and the final shot -- are commonly included in clip reels. Film lovers know it by heart. But what about average movie watchers? Is it as well known as It's a Wonderful Life or Casablanca or Breakfast at Tiffany's? What place does John Ford's masterpiece occupy in our national consciousness? As Glenn Frankel puts it in The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend, his fascinating new book about the picture and the history behind it, "The Searchers is perhaps the greatest Hollywood film that few people have seen."

First, apart from being an American epic, The Searchers also is a John Wayne Western; for many, even at this late date in film history, that's still an excuse to ignore it. Secondly, it doesn't go down quite as easily as the pictures mentioned above. Like all great works of art, it's uncomfortable. The core of the movie is deeply painful. Every time I watch it -- and I've seen it many, many times since its first run in 1956 -- it haunts and troubles me. The character of Ethan Edwards is one of the most unsettling in American cinema. In a sense, he's of a piece with Wayne's persona and his body of work with Ford and other directors like Howard Hawks and Henry Hathaway. It's the greatest performance of a great American actor. (Not everyone shares this opinion. For me, Wayne has only become more impressive over time.)

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: 

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