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.
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