The Searchers ★★★★★

For a very long time, I was very mild on THE SEARCHERS, I liked it pretty much least of all among mature Ford films. The last few months have been a sort of renaissance with me and Ford––I've watched about a dozen, finding them for the most part richer than before, sometimes by complete orders of magnitude. I can just about say that the films John Ford made with Frank Nugent are some of the most complex documents on how America thought of its past and its movement west as anything else produced in the mainstream. THE SEARCHERS is often half-heartedly heralded as a revisionist western a decade before they became fashionable, and half-wittedly denounced as just another racist cowboy movie by those who've never watched it closely enough. It is more brutal, more complicated, and more self-disgusted than almost anyone gives it credit for: the look on Debbie's face as she enters the Jorgenson home at the end of the picture casts doubts on the entire endeavor.