The searchers filming locations
Based on the 1954 novel by Alan Le May, the movie “The Searchers” was directed by John Ford and considered one of the greatest movies ever made. Released on May 16, 1956, the movie revolves around a middle-aged Civil war veteran, Ethan Edwards (portrayed by John Wayne), and his adopted nephew named Martin Pawley as they search for his adopted niece, who was abducted.
The film was a commercial success and is deemed a masterpiece even today. In 1989, The Searchers was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress.
A closer look into the cast
The movie starred some very big names, and their performances were critically acclaimed and celebrated. We see John Wayne as Ethan Edwards, Jeffrey Hunter as Martin Pawley, Vera Miles as Laurie Jorgensen, Ward Bond as Rev. Capt. Samuel Johnson Clayton, Natalie Wood as adult Debbie Edwards, John Qualen as Lars Jorgensen.
The movie also stars Olive Carey as Mrs. Jorgensen, Henry Brandon as Chief Cicatriz (Scar), Ken Curtis as Charlie McCorry, Harry Carey Jr. as Brad Jorgensen, and Antonio Moreno as Emilio Gabriel Fernández y Figueroa.
Hank Worden as Mose Harper
Beulah Archuletta as Wild Goose Flying in the Night Sky (Look)
Walter Coy as Aaron Edwards, Dorothy Jordan as Martha Edwards, Pippa Scott as Lucy Edwards, Patrick Wayne as Lt. Greenhill, Lana Wood as young Debbie Edwards, Robert Lyden as Ben Edwards.
The plot: an overview
After returning from the Civil War, where he fought for the side of the Confederacy, Ethan gave all his gold coins to his eight-year-old niece, Debbie.
Edward’s home was set on fire were Aaron, his wife Martha their son Ben died while Debbie and her older sister Lucy were abducted. When Ethan found Lucy, she was brutally murdered and presumably raped in a canyon near the Comanche camp.
When Ethan finally located Debbie, he swept her in his saddle and said, “Let’s go home, Debbie.”
Many critics claim that The Searchers was inspired by the 1836 kidnapping of nine-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker by Comanche warriors, who raided her family’s home at Fort Parker, Texas.
She had spent about 24 years and even married a war chief; she had three children and was later rescued against her will by Texas rangers.
We also see how the novel’s ending was different than that of the film, suggesting that the director took inspiration from other sources and not just the novel.
The shooting locations
The shooting of the film was done in Vistavision widescreen process. The movie was set in northwestern Texas’s staked plains (Llano Estacado).
Much of the filming was done in monument valley, Arizona, USA. Few of the shorts have also been taken in Utah, on the San Juan River, at Mexican Hat.
The film’s second half that showed snow and buffalo herds was shot in Aspen and southwestern Colorado. The climax scene where Ethan meets Debbie was shot in Griffith Park, Los Angeles. Some additional scenes were also shot in Elk Island National Park.