The Searchers

Watch The Searchers

"He had to find her... he had to find her..."
  • Passed
  • 1956
  • 1 hr 59 min
  • 7.8  (94,686)
  • 94

The Searchers is a Western film from 1956 directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, and Vera Miles. Set in the 1860s, the story follows Ethan Edwards (John Wayne), a former Confederate soldier who returns home to Texas after the Civil War. He comes to visit his brother's family but doesn't stay long, as a Comanche raiding party attacks and kills his brother, sister-in-law, and then kidnaps their two daughters, Lucy and Debbie. Ethan, who is also a veteran Indian fighter, is wracked with guilt for not being at home to protect his family, and he decides to track down the Comanche and rescue his two nieces.

Ethan is joined on his quest by his nephew, Martin Pawley (Jeffrey Hunter), a young man who was adopted by the Edwards family after being abducted and later rescued by the Comanche. Martin is a half-breed, and although he is more white than Indian, he feels out of place in both societies. He is eager to prove himself to his Uncle Ethan and help him find the girls. Along the way, they encounter several obstacles, including losing the trail of the Comanches, searching for supplies, and dealing with other hostile Indians. They also meet Laurie Jorgensen (Vera Miles), a girl who had a crush on Martin and is now engaged to another man. Laurie joins them on their quest, hoping to find her own sister, who was also abducted by the Comanche.

The Searchers is hailed as one of the greatest Westerns of all time and has influenced many subsequent movies. John Ford's direction is masterful, with stunning landscape shots and thrilling action scenes. The film also tackles complex issues of race and family, as Ethan's hatred for the Comanche is fueled by their killing and raping of white settlers, including his own family. He even suggests killing his own nieces if they have become "tainted" by their Comanche captors. Martin, on the other hand, wants to save his adoptive sisters, regardless of their ancestry. The relationship between Ethan and Martin is complicated, as Ethan resents Martin's mixed heritage and often treats him unfairly. However, they share a bond of loyalty and courage that is tested throughout the movie.

John Wayne's performance as Ethan Edwards is one of his most iconic and nuanced. He embodies the conflicted emotions of a man seeking revenge and redemption, and his character arc feels earned and satisfying. Jeffrey Hunter also gives an excellent performance as Martin Pawley, balancing his youthful idealism with his fierce determination to rescue the girls.

The film's themes are particularly resonant today, as it deals with issues of displacement, cultural clash, and redemption. The relationship between Ethan and Martin is a metaphor for the larger conflict between settlers and Native Americans, and the movie doesn't shy away from the atrocities committed on both sides.

The Searchers also features one of the most famous final shots in movie history, as Ethan walks away from the house where the rescued girls are, alone and isolated. The shot emphasizes the loneliness and despair that can come from seeking revenge or justice at any cost.

Overall, The Searchers is a classic Western that transcends the genre and offers a powerful exploration of family, race, and identity. John Ford's direction and John Wayne's performance make it a must-see for fans of the genre, and its influence on subsequent films is undeniable.

The Searchers is a 1956 western with a runtime of 1 hour and 59 minutes. It has received outstanding reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.8 and a MetaScore of 94.

The Searchers
Where to Watch The Searchers
The Searchers is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent The Searchers for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 59 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.8  (94,686)
  • Metascore