Friday, February 4, 2011

TODAY'S NUGGET: #97 WGA Script of All Time - The Searchers (1956)

[Quick Summary: A Civil War vet goes searching for his niece who was kidnapped by Indians.]

This is an uncomfortable script.


- John Wayne plays an unrepentant racist.
- This isn't my genre of choice.
- This story happens over several years.
- John Wayne doesn't come face to face with his antagonist Scar until the climax.

But despite my misgivings, I was determined to figure out why this film is at the top of many critics' lists.

And I discovered that the script drives to the end with an energy & focus because the main character Ethan (John Wayne) is single minded.

ex. He makes difficult, unpopular decisions, like abandoning Martin at the homestead.  But each one gets him closer to his goal. 

ex. He hangs on to his goal like a bulldog.  He is never far from his pursuit.

ex. The antagonist is always present (even if not physically present) because the protagonist continually plots against the antagonist at all times.  

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: The script is blunt, to the point, & decisive. 

This film endures because the Ethan character is unforgettable. 

Right or wrong, you're never in doubt who & what Ethan is, where he is going, what he is doing.

The Searchers (1956)
by Frank Nugent

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