Wednesday, September 04, 2013

First Wednesday Book Review Club: THE SEARCHERS: THE MAKING OF AN AMERICAN LEGEND



Most western- lovers would rank this film among the top five westerns of all time. And THE SEARCHERS: THE MAKING OF AN AMERICAN LEGEND by Glenn Frankel does much to help you understand why.

Frankel begins his story with the real life story of Cynthia Ann Parker. In 1836 Cynthia Ann Parker was kidnapped by Comanches in East Texas. Other family members were killed but Cynthia was taken and spent years among the Comanches, never really adjusting to the life of a white woman after her return.

Frankel goes on to explore Comanche culture, the fate of the Texas families who came into contact with the Comanches and the story of the particular people who took Cynthia Ann, in particular.

He then turns his focus to Alan Le May, the author of the novel that told the story, providing a nice biography of his career and how he came to write this book.

And finally we come to John Ford and the movie. He paints an interesting picture of Ford, of Hollywood at the time, and of course, of the movie's star, John Wayne. He explains to us why the film is such a great one. And how Wayne created such an indelible impression in it.

This is a terrific book. The author has a knack for telling you exactly as much as you want to know and presenting it in a interesting way. I have read books like this one before--how they made CASABLANCA for instance. This is by far the most erudite and comprehensive study of a movie I have read. Highly recommended.

Check for more book reviews with Barrie Summy. 

13 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - I'm not a fan of Westerns, but it's really interesting to go 'behind the scenes' and find out how a movie was made and what went into it. Thanks

Anonymous said...

John Ford, not Huston. But you knew that.

We watched it again fairly recently and it held up.

I have the book coming from the library.

Jeff M.

Rose said...

I'm not a fan of Westerns, but this sounds like an interesting book, especially the original story that prompted the book and movie. My husband is definitely a Western fan, though--hmm, might be a good gift idea. Thanks for the recommendation!

pattinase (abbott) said...

I thought of that last night as I drifted off but had forgotten to change it by morning. Ah, this memory.

George said...

I loved this book! THE SEARCHERS: THE MAKING OF AN AMERICAN LEGEND shows how Hollywood worked in the Fifties. And how John Ford made a movie.

Anonymous said...

I remember Peter Bogdanovich discussing this with Ford in his book first published in the early '70s, which is well worth reading even though Ford is somewhat elusive to pin down.

Jeff M.

Ron Scheer said...

Thanks for the excellent review. The subject matter of abductions is more interesting to me than the movie, which draws on a subject that has long induced a kind of hysteria in popular imagination. You find it often in the frontier fiction of 100+ years ago.

I have to confess that this movie is not on my Best Western list. For me, despite some fine moments, its shortcomings are glaring.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, he seemed very difficult in the book, Jeff.
Would like to see Ron's list of favorites.

Barrie said...

I'm glad you reviewed this book, Patti. I would never have thought to pick it up. Now, like Rose, I'm wondering if it might make a good Christmas gift for the husband. Thank you!

Barrie said...

And, yes, let's get together when you're down this way.

Steve Oerkfitz said...

I'll have to pick this up, my library doesn't carry it. Another similar book is the very good Close Up on Sunset Boulevard.

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

Good find! I like reading about the backstory.

Sarah Laurence said...

That does sound like a fascinating story, although I'm not a big fan of western genre movies. It would make a good gift for someone who was a fan. Thanks for the recommendation!