Tuesday, February 19, 2013

THE SEARCHERS: THE MAKING OF AN AMERICAN LEGEND


New book out on the making of THE SEARCHERS and the true story the movie (and book) was based on. From "Entertainment Weekly".......


THE SEARCHERS by Glenn Frankel
Reviewed by Chris Nashawaty | Feb 15, 2013



EW's GRADE
B+
Details Release Date: Feb 19, 2013; Writer: Glenn Frankel; Genre: History; Publisher: Bloomsbury

John Ford's The Searchers is one of the greatest Westerns ever made. Released in 1956, the film is the tale of Ethan Edwards — a Civil War veteran, played by John Wayne, whose niece is kidnapped during a Comanche raid. Burning with grief, racial hatred, and Old Testament rage, the Duke leads a five-year search to save her and exact revenge on her bloodthirsty captors. Ford, who directed Stagecoach and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, was Hollywood's most iconic interpreter of the American West.

But the story of The Searchers wasn't the fabrication of some armchair-cowboy screenwriter sitting in front of an Underwood. It was based on the 1836 kidnapping of a 9-year-old girl in East Texas named Cynthia Ann Parker. In this well-researched dual history, Glenn Frankel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former Washington Post reporter, attempts to interweave these two stories: the fact and the legend. The fact turns out to be more fascinating. After all, most readers who pick up a book about The Searchers will already know something about the film's backstory. They may well have an idea about the arduous shoot in Monument Valley and Ford's prickly reputation as a tyrannical drunk. Frankel doesn't add much that's new to that story. Instead, it's his account of Parker's abduction and the quarter-century quest to recover her that casts a haunting, harrowing spell. By the time she was finally recaptured in the Battle of Pease River, she was no longer the girl her family remembered and prayed would be returned to them one day. She was fully Comanche — the wife of a warrior and the mother of three Native American children. Her reimmersion into white society against her will and the sad remainder of her days play out like a cruel, heart-wrenching tragedy — the exact opposite of the John Wayne yarn. No wonder Ford went with the legend instead of the fact. B+
Memorable Line:

''...something about a man riding a horse through a rugged landscape, Ford liked to say...made it the most natural subject for a movie camera."

1 comment:

Jangoz said...

Finally finished the new book on THE SEARCHERS....."The Searchers: The Making Of An American Legend." Enjoyed immensely the first part of the book which deals with the true life story that Alan LeMay based his novel on....the kidnapping of nine-year old Cynthia Ann Parker and the ten year search for her by her Uncle. (Incidentally, one of Cynthia's sons was the great Indian Chief Quannah Parker.) Sadly (to me) and disappointingly I didn't learn anything new about John Ford, John Wayne or the actual making of THE SEARCHERS that I hadn't heard or read before...with one exception...Kirk Douglas wanted the role of Ethan and lobbied hard for it even though he had a snowball's chance in hell of getting it. Incidentally Wayne's character's name was changed from Amos Edwards (in the book) to Ethan Edwards because of the "Amos 'n Andy" radio and tv show. All in all though well worth the read.