Directed by John Ford, The Searchers follows Ethan Edwards and his journey to search for his lost niece. Ethan returns to his home in Texas after the Civil War. Once Ethan is back, he gets to know that Comanches have either abducted or killed his family members and vows to find his surviving relatives out there and bring them back home.
John Ford directed the film, and it stars John Wayne playing Ethen’s role, the film’s protagonist, Jeffrey Hunter playing Martin Pawley’s role, Vera Miles playing Laurie Jorgensen’s role, Ward Bond playing Captain Samuel’s role.
Natalie Wood played Debbie’s role, Edward’s lost niece, John Qualen playing Lars Jorgensen’s role, Olive Carey playing Mrs. Jorgensen’s role, Henry Brandon playing Chief Cicatriz’s role, and Ken Curtis playing Charlie’s role.
Released on May 16, 1956, the Western film had a runtime of 119 minutes and an amazing box office collection of $3.75 M. The Searchers is a brilliant movie based on a novel by Alan Le May titled The Searchers in 1954.
Ethan Continues To Search For Debbie [Credits – Warner Bros.]
Viewers felt the director allowed too many outdoor scenes to be filmed in an obviously synthetic studio stage. The film grabbed viewers’ attention from the start till the end with its refreshing plot and cast.
John Wayne’s performance in Ethan’s role received praise from the viewers. The Searchers is one of the best classical movies made in the 1950s. Ethan asks his adopted nephew to accompany him on his search for Debbie, his niece.
The Searchers – Premise
The film focuses on Ethan Edwards, a veteran returning to Texas after fighting in the Civil War, to discover that most of his family was either killed or abducted by the Comanches and vowing to find and bring back the living members of the family.
The film starts with Ethan returning to his brother’s house from California to meet his nieces and nephews. After spending time with Aron, Edward’s brother, and his family, Debbie asks her uncle to gift her a gold necklace similar to the one he gave to her older sister, Lucy.
Edward has a lot of gold coins and a medal from the Mexican campaign, in his possession due to him fighting in the Civil War. Edward gifts the gold medal to Debbie, his young niece, as her gold locket, which she excitedly wears almost immediately. Edward refuses to take an oath of allegiance due to his being a former Confederate soldier.
Still From The Searchers [Credits – Warner Bros.]
A cattle gets stolen from the neighbor’s house, shortly after Ethan arrives at his brother’s home. Ethan and a group of soldiers are led by Captain Samuel to recover the pigs stolen from Lars Jorgensen. Soon, the rangers and Captain Samuel discover that the cattle theft was a ploy set by the Comanche to draw the men away from their respective families.
Soon, the rangers and captain return to Aron’s house only to discover Edward’s homestead in flames and Aaron, Martha, and Ben dead, while Lucy and Deby have been abducted. Edward and the rangers leave on a quest to find the abducted girls after a brief funeral of Edward’s, dead family members.
The rangers and Edward find the Comanches camp, which turns out to be a ruse, and the group ends up getting ambushed by the Comanches. After a brief battle, only a few of the rangers made it out alive, so everyone returned to their house except Ethan, Brad, and Martin as they decided to continue on their quest of finding Lucy and Debbie.
After the group continues, they find Lucy raped and dead, which leads to Brad directly attacking the Comanches group and getting killed. When the winter arrives, Martin and Ethan decide to return to the Jorgensen’s ranch, where Laurie welcomes them. Once there, Ethan discovers a letter waiting for him by Futterman with claims about having information on Debbie.
Ethan leaves alone to find Debbie again without Martin, but Laurie gives him a horse to catch up with Ethan. At Futterman’s trading post, Ethan learns about Debbie being taken by the chief of Nawyecka’s band of Comanches. A year after the events, Martin sends a letter to Laurie describing their ongoing search.
After five years of continuous search, the pair finds Debbie, now an adolescent in New Mexico, living as Scar’s wife. Ethan tries to persuade Debbie to leave with them, but she refuses, stating she has become a Comanche now and wishes to remain with the group. In a blind rage, Ethan shoots Debbie as he would rather see her dead than become a Native American.
Martin saves Debbie, and even though he tends to Ethan’s wound, he is furious with him. The pair then return home after Debbie refuses to return with them. Meanwhile, Laurie is getting married to Charlie on the day the duo reaches the Jorgensen’s farm. Ethan and Martin go to kill Scar after a lieutenant informs about his location to them.
Martin enters the camp first to discover Scar about to assault Debbie and kills him to save his sister. The film ends with Ethan retrieving Debbie and safely taking her to Jorgensen’s ranch before leaving while Martin reunites with Laurie.
The Searchers Filming Locations
Known for its beautiful deserts, Saguaro cacti, and Hoover Dam, a beautiful state in the Southwestern side of the United States, Arizona was used by the production crew of The Searchers to film the majority of the movie.
Filming Locations : Arizona [Credits – Warner Bros.]
The scene where Ethan catches up to Scar was filmed at Twelve Dancers, Monument Valley. Some other locations used for filming in Arizona include Kayenta, Teec Nos Pos, Mexican Water, and Red Mesa.
2. Los Angeles County, California
Known for being the home of the Hollywood film industry, the beautiful county of Los Angeles was used for the filming of some of the major parts of The Searchers.
Filming Locations: Los Angeles [Credits- Warner Bros]
The movie’s climax scene, where Ethan meets and rescues Debbie, was filmed in Griffith Park, Los Angeles. Different parts of Los Angeles were used for the filming of some of the pivotal scenes of the movie.
Known for its landscape of forests, mountains, canyons, and rivers, a U.S. state in the western side, Colorado, was used by the production crew to film some of the major scenes of the movie. The scenes with buffalo herds and snow were filmed at this location.
Filming Locations: Colorado [Credits – Warner Bros.]
Known for its beautiful nature and outdoor wonderland, a beautiful landlocked state, Utah, was used by the production crew for filming some of the scenes from the movie. San Juan River of Utah was used to film some of the scenes from The Searchers.
Filming Locations – Utah [Credits – Warner Bros. ]