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Movie Review

The Searchers

MPAA Rating: Not rated by the MPAA

Reviewed by: Shannon Hammell
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Mature Teens and Adults
Genre:
Western
Length:
1 hr. 59 min.
Year of Release:
1956
USA Release:
March 13, 1956

Featuring: John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles, Ward Bond, Natalie Wood, Olive Carey, John Qualen, Henry Brandon
Director: John Ford
Producer: Merian C. Cooper, C. V. Whitney
Distributor: Warner Bros.

This film is one of director John Ford’s masterpieces. It’s one of the few Westerns I enjoyed watching. No sex, no nudity, mild language, and mild violence make this film okay for teen-agers, however, there are racist undertones in the film that may make it inappropriate for younger children.

Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) is a Civil War veteran who fought for the Confederates. He lives with his sister and an adopted young man in America in the late 19th century. Suddenly, a band of wild Indians comes to their home, burns it, killing most of Ethan’s family and kidnapping his niece.

Ethan and Martin Pawley (Jeffery Hunter), the young man who was adopted into the family set out to find Ethan’s young niece, accompanied by a few other men, including a pastor (Ward Bond). They encounter several setbacks along their journey involving love, injustices, prejudices, and, of course, Indians.

I saw this film for a paper I was writing for a history paper and it is quite clean as far as violence, language, and sex/nudity go. As mentioned earlier, this film does contain racist undertones. Ethan describes Indians as uncivilized and wild. It is quite clear that he is prejudiced against Native Americans. Martin, who is one-eighth Indian, is called “half breed” or “blanket head” by Ethan. A pastor is depicted in the film as a pessimistic, uncaring person who is also prejudiced against Native Americans, which is not how a pastor should act. A pastor is a servant of Christ who is to be an example of Christ to others.

The film isn’t all bad. It shows how devoted Ethan is to his family and how his love of his family set him off on a quest to find his missing niece. The “friendship” between Martin and Ethan becomes better and better as Ethan sees Martin more as a human being than a “half breed.”

This kind of material should not be shown to younger children due to possible misconceptions of Native Americans that they might develop. This film should be appropriate for mature teens aged 13 and up.

Violence: Mild | Profanity: Minor | Sex/Nudity: None

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—“The Searchers” is a very clean movie. It has no language or nudity. It does have violence, so I would say that no one should watch under 13 years old.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Joshua Sites, age 19 (USA)

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