Has there ever been filmmaking duo quite like John Wayne and John Ford? You could potentially argue a few pairings – but the Wayne and Ford partnership delivered 14 films between 1939 and 1963, leading to some of the best work of their respective careers. The finest of these is likely the 1956 western, The Searchers.
Ford’s film sees Wayne play Ethan Edwards, a Civil War veteran who goes in search of his niece (Natalie Wood), who has been kidnapped by the Comanches.
Not a hit on its initial release, The Searchers was met with quite a bit of critical scorn when it opened. However, over the years it’s reputation has grown and it’s now a revered piece of cinema with the likes of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, John Milius, Paul Schrader and Jean-Luc Godard all citing Ford’s film as an inspiration.
In 1989, The Searchers was labeled “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
On a budget of $3.75 million, The Searchers grossed $4.8 million at the US box office in 1956.