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The original source of "The Searchers".

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Eric Peterson, Mar 8, 2006.

  1. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Well-Known Member

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    Was "The Searchers" based on this comic book?

    I ask because I picked up an old novel at a garage sale a few years back title "The Searchers", and the summary on the back cover sounds very similar to the storyline in the film. The printing date was between '55-'57 as I recall and was a bookclub edition. There is no mention of the movie, so I did not think that it was a "Based on the film" type of book, but I was curious enough to pick it up. Has anyone else ever seen this?

    I can take some pictures, and post some more specific info if anyone is interested.
     
  2. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    Nope.
    The comic book is a tie-in, based on the film.
    The film THE SEARCHERS is based on a classic 1954 novel by Alan LeMay (1899-1964).
    The novel is based on the true-life ordeal of Cynthia Ann Parker (1825-1870) and her family, which LeMay was familiar with. He was a son of pioneers who was raised near where the story happened. I will try to post Cynthia Ann's photograph here if I can figure out how.


    I wrote a longer and more expansive answer to your question, but it got lost when I tried to upload Cynthia Ann's photo, and it's too late to start over again.
     
  3. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Richard.

    That is definitely the book that I own, I immediately recognized the author. I'm pretty sure my printing is from '55 or '56, and was probably being pushed right before the movie came out, but as I said previously, there is no mention of a movie tie-in.
     
  4. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    I've seen paperback tie-ins with different covers, but these did not come out until 1956. The book is still in print, a paperback. The story has a factual basis. It really happened in central Texas and had become something of a local legend in the mid-1800s before the historians started to research it. The daughter of a baptist minister, Cynthia Ann Parker was only 11 years old when Comanches kipnapped her in 1836. Over the years there were many atempts to rescue her, but the Comanches were determined to use her to humiliate the white intruders. She was raped and brainwashed at a very young age. As an adult, she had many chances to go home, but by then she had adopted Comanche ways and bore four Comanche children, and it was too late for her to return to white society. But soldiers did finally apprehend Cynthia Ann and return her to her family, but she was too humilated to live among white people. She went insane before she died in 1870. LeMay digs deep into the emotional truths of the story even though he changes the characters around some.

    Alan LeMay wrote several important western novels and screenplays and is esteemed today by western authors. Maybe you'll find the time to read the book. Personally I think John Ford improved on the story, but it should be realized that the emotional dynamics of the film come out of the book. It must have been an epiphany for John Ford. His westerns were never the same after reading THE SEARCHERS, so much so that he had to explore the issues raised even further in TWO RIDE TOGETHER. He's still reluctant to let go of it in CHEYANNE AUTUMN. Indeed the story of Cynthia Ann Parker is a good introduction to western history; there are dimensions to it people can't imagine until after they've studied it. I've read a lot of silly interpretations about the film that really have nothing to do with it. It comes out of the book.
     
  5. John Hodson

    John Hodson Well-Known Member

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    ...in which Henry Brandon, 'Scar' from The Searchers played the Chief Quanah Parker, who was the son of Cynthia Ann Parker. Just a shame that Two Rode Together is not a patch on Ford's masterwork; but I'm not so sure LeMay's book had that much of an effect on the old man - it's a simple question of how do you top one of the finest westerns, one of the finest films made?

    Well, you give it a damn good go with The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance for a start...
     
  6. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    In some ways, I actually like "Two Rode Together" more than some of Ford's other westerns. I think it was James Stewart's character and some of his dialogue that won me over.[​IMG]




    Crawdaddy
     
  7. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    Well, I'm sure. Ford did not look upon his work from the perspective of a movie critic. LeMay's book had a profound impact on the old man as did the story on which it was based whether his biographers realize it or not. Look at how he confronts these themes again in TWO RODE TOGETHER.


    ... which follows through on ideas from THE LAST HURRAH only in a western setting where they're even more applicable.

    I love John Ford's films. I'll buy both box-sets the minute the store clerk puts them on the shelf.
     
  8. John Hodson

    John Hodson Well-Known Member

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    Stewart, and to some degree Widmark, just about hold the thing together. I don't know what it is; it's remarkably slapdash at times, with few Fordian moments and the way it sweeps from utter tragedy to the comedy at the end doesn't sit well with me.

    Ford himself said it was 'the worst piece of crap I've done in 20 years' [​IMG] Maybe it was the news of Ward Bond's death, or Harry Carey Jr hitting the bottle during production, but it doesn't really come off. I'm glad to have it in my collection nonetheless.
     
  9. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    To each his own, but I enjoyed that piece of crap, particularly, Widmark's final remark about Stewart's character.






    Crawdaddy
     
  10. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    What was the earlier piece of crap, did he say?

    TWO RODE TOGETHER looks great and feels authentic but it's not as well written as THE SEARCHERS. At the crux of it is how Anglo pioneers cope with the thought of their children becoming savages -- their sons turned into homicidal killers, their daughters turned into warrior-breeding whores. The young captives struggle with re-entering a civilization that condemns them. There is pathos here because everyone is conflicted. It's a kind of a nightmare really. The story elements that didn't advance this conflict needed to be cut. But the real problem with TWO RODE TOGETHER is its comedy relief. The story wants to be a tragedy, but Ford is from a generation that thinks a film can't be entertaining unless it has comedy relief.
     
  11. John Hodson

    John Hodson Well-Known Member

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    No he didn't but Tobacco Road fits the bill...
     
  12. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    Yeah that's what I thought he meant.
     
  13. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Which is why some people had problems with "The Searchers" regarding some scenes and dialogue by Ward Bond and Ken Curtis.




    Crawdaddy
     
  14. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I've split this thread so the movie discussion can continue in more detail about "The Searchers" and other Ford westerns.







    Crawdaddy
     
  15. Greg_S_H

    Greg_S_H Well-Known Member

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    Hank Worden really pulled the movie down. I'm not a big Ford fan, mainly because of his love of whimsy. Drums Along the Mohawk is a pretty good film, but the scene where the woman browbeats the Indians into carrying her out of the house in her bed was just stupid.
     
  16. John Hodson

    John Hodson Well-Known Member

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    I think one of the reasons I am a Ford fan is his love of whimsy, or even the more broad comedy moments. And they don't come much broader than Ken Curtis in The Searchers do they?

    No, I don't have a problem with any of the whimsical moments in The Searchers or 'Drums' (I can't give you a source, so I'm loathe to mention it, but I'm sure I've read that the scene with the bed actually happened, though I'm sure it improved with the telling); it's not the comedy, being aware that comedy/tragedy are two sides of the same coin, it's the timing. And, IMHO, in Two Rode Together, that timing is uncomfortably off.
     
  17. andrew markworthy

    andrew markworthy Well-Known Member

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    Shakespeare had the same problem ...
     
  18. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Well-Known Member

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    This is the exact same book that I found at a garage sale. I think I paid a whole dollar!

    The Searchers - Ebay
     
  19. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Well-Known Member

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    great thread.

    Can't wait for this to come out
     
  20. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    I looked for a discussion thread on this movie and this is the closest I could find. I have just finished watching this movie and listening to Peter Bognonvich's (sp?) commentary on BD and it is a thing of beauty.

    First I am embarrassed to admit that I missed an important plot point in the movie till listening to the commentary. Ethan (Wayne) is in love with with his brother's wife and she with him(maybe). It's never spoken, it's subtle, but it's not hidden either. How the heck did I miss that over the years?

    I missed that but did catch a little nit of a detail. When Ethan and Martin are talking after just seeing Debbie for the first time, off on the horizon, on the outline of the sand dune, I saw this speck (46" samsung) disturbing the outline of the dune. Sure enough, it becomes Debbie when she stands up and walks down the dune.

    Concerning Wayne's performance, if you've got a friend who says "the trouble with Wayne is he's a movie star but not an actor" point him to this film. Could anyone have been any better in this role?

    Some things still bother me about this film. It's still a prisoner of Hollywood in some ways. The Indians fight in incredibly stupid ways. "Let's just ride up in front of their guns, shall we? Let's ford a river while we just ride up in front their guns, shall we?" Did the Indians really fight that stupidly?

    Natalie Wood as the older Debbie just screams Hollywood, she's wearing lipstick and other makeup and looks far better than her character should. Even Vera Miles as Laurie doesn't look as made-up.

    In his commentary PB says that Ford was not approving of Ethan & Martin's treatment of the Indian girl Look, and Ford presented it without comment. The music tells us different, that this is a light moment to laugh at. However in the space of just a few movie minutes Look leaves her family, is rejected by Martin and Ethan, and dies. It's a tragic mini-story within this movie.

    In Ford's defense, PB earlier commented that Ford wanted less music in the film, which implies that he didn't have that much control over the music.

    Perhaps it's not so much a prisoner of Hollywood, but a reflection of the time it was made. I'm sure that I found the Look sequence humorous when I first saw the movie.
     

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