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Ken Muldrew

Were people setting Westerns in the Canyonlands before The Searchers? I can't watch it without being utterly confused by the bizarre choice of location. Here is a place where nothing grows; the most desolate landscape for a thousand miles, and we are supposed to believe that a bunch of people moving West decided to settle here? Did they spend 5 years skidding timbers to build their homes? What do they eat? What does their livestock eat? It's so distracting but there must be something more behind it than just a pretty backdrop.


The Searchers is a great film in part because it's problematic (certainly multifaceted). It's one of those flicks I get something new out of each time I see it. (I haven't read Frankel's book yet, but reading Frank S. Nugent's screenplay answered some questions for me.)

M George Stevenson

The setting is, like all settings, metaphorical. For the hardships of the Texicans to immediately read as hardships, they have to look like they're trying to grow corn on Mars. How often does it snow in Texas? Much less often than Ethan and Marty have to contend with the cold white wrath of winter in addition to everything else.

Ford had been going to Monument Valley (south of Canyonlands) since Stagecoach in 1939. That was at least set in Arizona, where people went to mine and ranch rather than to farm.


If you're interested in science fiction heavily influenced by "The Searchers," I recommend Jonathan Lethem's "Girl in Landscape."

Thanks for the essay!


The Searchers is to American Cinema what Huckleberry Finn is to American literature.


Hey Lance, kudos for the Rolling Thunder reference. i love that movie. Its so wonderfully .....violent.

Here's a fun review:

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