Released 1956 (USA)
American, in English (some semi-translated Navajo & Spanish)
Director - John Ford
Stars - John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter
After most of his extended family is killed by a Comanche war party, Ethan Edwards (Wayne) sets off with his brother’s adopted son Martin Pawley (Hunter) to retrieve his two nieces, who were kidnapped in the raid.
Violence; references to rape.
Well, it’s not going to win any awards for its sensitive and inoffensive portrayal of Native Americans any time soon (and let’s not forget that most of the “Native Americans” were played by white people).
Was I supposed to like Ethan? He’s not even remotely likable. Pardon my language, but he’s a total asshole. Why is he so mean to everyone? It’s never explained. I really wanted Martin to smother him with a pillow one night at the campfire.
I don’t know where this was filmed, but it definitely wasn’t Texas.
I liked how determined, loyal, and sweet the character of Martin was. He was sort of a lovable goof. Kind of a crybaby though.
It had some funny moments, although a lot of them weren’t necessarily intentional.
I was moved by the idea that these men would spend years looking for their lost loved ones.
I just don’t get it. People seem to love John Wayne movies, but I don’t find them especially compelling, and I usually can’t stand the characters he plays. This film has a fantastic rating on IMDB. One reviewer says that anyone who doesn’t like it is a “meat head” who can only understand mindless action sequences. He/she claims that the movie is about race. Well, I’m not super big on action movies, I don’t think anyone who knows me would classify me as a “meat head,” and I’ve seen FAR better movies about race (I think the idea that Ford intended this film to be a serious discussion about race is thoroughly laughable). The story is all right, the action is okay, and the acting is completely overblown. To me it’s both mediocre and forgettable.
I give it 2.75 stars.