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Thanks very much for Sean Higgins’s reflections on John Wayne’s 1956 movie The Searchers. I think Mr. Higgins is right on the mark in his assessment of liberal reasons for extolling the flick. But those reasons are selective, driven by a dimwitted ideology. In fact, it’s still a terrific flick, one of Wayne’s best, with reliably strong support performances by Jeffrey Hunter and such Ford regulars as Hank Worden and Ward Bond. The extraordinarily talented (and underrated) stage actor Henry Brandon (more than 20 years earlier, in 1933 at age 21, he was the definitive Silas Barnaby in the classic Laurel and Hardy vehicle March of the Wooden Soldiers) plays the Comanche chief Scar with perfect menace and not an ounce of liberal sentimentality. But I have a more serious bone to pick with Higgins’s piece.
“Redemption” in the normal sense of the word — the only useful sense — is a sudden change of heart brought about by a discovery external to oneself and transformative despite oneself. Ethan’s redemption in The Searchers — dramatized in the reunion with Debbie — doesn’t require that he think “any differently about Indians,” and the movie would be psychologically absurd to suggest otherwise. We are almost at the end of the film when the redemption occurs. The famous concluding shot tightly framed by the cabin door with Ethan grasping his upper arm (Wayne imitating a signature gesture of his own cowboy hero, Harry Carey), slowly turning, and sauntering into the vast western expanse is a statement of moral certainty: Ethan will never again act in the same way on his feelings about Indians — feelings which he’s acquired pretty honestly, by the way. The change of heart is entirely plausible, and the moral framing is predictably lost on liberal critics going over their political perceptions of the flick.p>In response to Mr. Higgins’s concluding rhetorical question, I have seen Fort Apache at least as many times as I have seen The Searchers . They are both first-rate Wayne flicks — but, as with my children, I like them differently. br> — John R. Dunlap br> San Jose, California /p>
I am not politically liberal but I love The Searchers. If liberals love it too, the perhaps we have some common ground at last.
I have always thought Ethan relentlessly hunts down the raiding party that murdered Ethan’s brother and his family because, as the film makes obvious, Ethan is in love with his brother’s wife and she with him. He is also apparently influenced, alas adversely, toward the raiders as he recounts to his companions in the search, how he used his Confederate army coat (Ethan was an enlisted man, a sergeant, by the way) as a burial shroud for his raped and murdered niece Lucy (two girls were kidnapped in the attack).
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online