The Searchers 1956

The Searchers

Critics Consensus

The Searchers is an epic John Wayne Western that introduces dark ambivalence to the genre that remains fashionable today.

98%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 47

88%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 40,808

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Movie Info

In this revered Western, Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) returns home to Texas after the Civil War. When members of his brother's family are killed or abducted by Comanches, he vows to track down his surviving relatives and bring them home. Eventually, Edwards gets word that his niece Debbie (Natalie Wood) is alive, and, along with her adopted brother, Martin Pawley (Jeffrey Hunter), he embarks on a dangerous mission to find her, journeying deep into Comanche territory.

Cast & Crew

John Wayne
Ethan Edwards
Jeffrey Hunter
Martin Pawley
Natalie Wood
Debbie Edwards (older)
Vera Miles
Laurie Jorgensen
Ward Bond
Rev. Capt. Samuel Johnston Clayton
John Qualen
Lars Jorgensen
Harry Carey Jr.
Brad Jorgensen
Olive Carey
Mrs. Jorgensen
Antonio Moreno
Emilio Figueroa
Henry Brandon
Chief Cicatrice (Scar)
John Ford
Director
Merian C. Cooper
Executive Producer
Stan Jones
Original Music
Max Steiner
Original Music
Winton C. Hoch
Cinematographer
Jack Murray
Film Editor
James Basevi
Art Direction
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News & Interviews for The Searchers

Critic Reviews for The Searchers

All Critics (47) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (46) | Rotten (1)

  • [The Searchers is] Ford's greatest western, with John Wayne as the relentless adventurer Ethan Edwards.

    February 5, 2019 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • This C.V. Whitney production is undoubtedly one of the greatest Westerns ever made.

    March 19, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Some fine vignettes of frontier life in the early southwest and a realistic presentation of the difficulties faced by the settlers in carving out a homestead in dangerous Indian country.

    June 27, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Through the central image of the frontier, the meeting point of wilderness and civilization, Ford explores the divisions of our national character, with its search for order and its need for violence, its spirit of community and its quest for independence

    June 27, 2007 | Full Review…
  • There is perhaps some discrepancy in the play between Wayne's heroic image and the pathological outsider he plays here (forever excluded from home, as the doorway shots at beginning and end suggest), but it hardly matters, given the film's visual splendou

    February 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Derek Adams

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • A rip-snorting Western, as brashly entertaining as they come.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Searchers

  • Aug 31, 2020
    One of the most jarring and beautifully filmed Westerns I ever have watched. John Wayne and Jeffrey Hunter lead a all star cast and the film is taut and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Wayne's lead character is hard to like but you care about him and his task at hand. John Ford masterfully directs. A must see!! 08-30-2020
    Christopher O Super Reviewer
  • Nov 29, 2016
    This is an extraordinarily over-rated movie. The acting is uniformly terrible, and John Wayne is absolutely insufferable. The treatment of Native Americans is stereotypical, and they're shown to be inept, silly, and savage. Actions are routinely illogical and the attempts at comedy tossed in are poor. The story of Wayne's search for his kidnapped niece is straightforward, but the film gets painfully side-tracked with a love story and other goofiness. The only reason to watch this film is the cinematography. Director John Ford captures several absolutely gorgeous and iconic shots in Monument Valley, though he too often relies on the same rock formations in the background, stunning as they are. The scenes in deep snow and crossing an icy river are also fantastic, though it's odd how quickly we see shifts from arid desert to winter. Regardless, these are the ONLY good things about this movie. There are so many other things to hate. Wayne's mispronunciation of Comanche as "Commanch", his disparaging half-breeds, and his disdain for clearly traumatized women who were forced to live with Native Americans for years (Texas Ranger: "It's hard to believe they're white". Wayne: "They're not white anymore."). A blue-eyed Indian chief. The ridiculously accurate shooting. Wayne inexplicably thinking of shooting his niece when he finds her, since she doesn't want to return with him, despite years of searching for her. (Oh wait, that is explainable; he's racist and she's now "one of them"). Lastly, I almost threw up in my mouth when Wayne sauntered off at the end. Perhaps that was triggered while also thinking of his real-life comments in a 1971 interview with Playboy Magazine: PLAYBOY: For years American Indians have played an important - if subordinate - role in your Westerns. Do you feel any empathy with them? WAYNE: I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them, if that's what you're asking. Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves. Ugh.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 02, 2015
    Between 4.5 and 5. A true classic.
    Kyle M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 02, 2013
    A former Confederate soldier returns to the West where he battles the Natives responsible for a raid on his brother's property. In one scene John Wayne's character, Ethan Edwards, shoots a dead Native's eyes out so that he "can't find his way around the Spirit World." In another scene, two women are shown having lost their wits, mumbling and babbling and hysterical. Ethan says, "They're not white any more; they're savages." Native characters are aggressive, imperious, evil, savage, and the diametric opposite of the "civilized" white man who blames the Native for being on white land before the whites arrived. There are a few scenes in which other characters criticize Ethan's extreme views of Natives, fearing that he will mercilessly shoot a captive white woman who has "gone Native." But the plot saves Ethan from this decision. These criticisms are the only moments that prevent <i>The Searchers</i> from being the most racist film I've ever seen. The portrayal of Natives and the film's scapegoating and support of Wayne's character is shocking and impossible to ignore; one might be able to shrug away the fact that the Natives play the villains, but good God: "she ceased to be white?" There are majestic shots and good cinematography and a tepid love plot mixed in. Overall, this is a racist piece of shit.
    Jim H Super Reviewer

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