The Searchers: Essays and Reflections on John Ford's Classic Western / Edition 1

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Overview

In many ways a traditional western, The Searchers (1956) is considered by critics as one of the greatest Hollywood films, made by the most influential of western directors. But John Ford’s classic work, in its complexity and ambiguity, was a product of post-World War II American culture and sparked the deconstruction of the western film myth by looking unblinkingly at white racism and violence and suggesting its social and psychological origins. The Searchers tells the story of the kidnapping of the niece of Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) by Comanche Indians, and his long search to find her—ultimately not to rescue her but to kill her, since he finds her racially and sexually violated.

The Searchers: Essays and Reflections on John Ford’s Classic Western brings historians and film scholars together to cover the major critical issues of this film as seen through a contemporary prism. The book also contains the first published, sustained reaction to the film by Native Americans. The essays explore a wide range of topics: from John Wayne’s grim character of Ethan Edwards, to the actual history of Indian captivity on the southern Plains, as well as the role of the film’s music, setting, and mythic structure—all of which help the reader to understand what makes The Searchers such an enduring work.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814330562
  • Publisher: Wayne State University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2004
  • Series: Contemporary Approaches to Film and Media Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 392
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Arthur M. Eckstein is professor of History at University of Maryland.

Peter Lehman is Director of the Interdisciplinary Humanities Program at Arizona State University. He is author of Roy Orbison: The Invention of an

Alternative Rock Masculinity and editor of Masculinity: Bodies, Movies, Culture.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Preface: A Film That Fits a Lot of Descriptions
Introduction: Main Critical Issues in The Searchers 1
The Searchers: An American Dilemma 47
John Wayne and The Searchers 75
Sermons in Stone: Monument Valley in The Searchers 93
"Typically American": Music for The Searchers 109
Homer's Iliad and John Ford's The Searchers 145
What Would Martha Want? Captivity, Purity, and Feminine Values in The Searchers 171
Incest and Miscegenation in The Searchers (1956) and The Unforgiven (1959) 197
Double Vision: Miscegenation and Point of View in The Searchers 223
"You Couldn't Hit It on the Nose": The Limits of Knowledge in and of The Searchers 239
"That Don't Make You Kin!": Borderlands History and Culture in The Searchers 265
Re-searching 289
Native American Reactions to The Searchers 335
Film Credits 343
Selected Bibliography 345
Index 355
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