The Searchers

It’s a home, but not his home.

In the end, John Wayne walks away, his battle-hardened soldier a hero to some, a villain to others, his shadow his only companion as he departs.

Community grows in the Old West, but there is no place left for the rough and tumble men who helped make it possible.

The ending of this landmark film is bittersweet, featuring a celebration over the return of Natalie Wood’s kidnapped character, but also a silent, hardly-noticed farewell, as Wayne fades into the sunset.

He got his Oscar years later, but this was his finest work.

 

How Green Was My Valley

It’s never going to get the full credit it deserves.

On one hand, this is a superbly-crafted tale of life among the coalminers of South Wales, achingly beautiful and emotional.

On the other, it’s the film which beat Citizen Kane at the Oscars, so it usually leads off discussions of Best Picture winners which some people think don’t deserve the honor.

Nonsense, that distinction belongs to junk like The Bore of the Rings or Shakespeare in Love.

This John Ford flick can stand on its own merits, and they’re many.

Approach it with an open mind, and discover for yourself.

Sergeant Rutledge

Put some respect on his name.

Woody Strode had a long, successful 50+ year film career, carving out a niche playing rugged men of action, not surprising since he was a professional football player.

He went toe-to-toe with Kirk Douglas in Spartacus, and was memorable as a hired killer gunned down by Charles Bronson in Once Upon a Time in the West.

But this John Ford flick, about a Buffalo Soldier unjustly court-martialed for rape and murder, gives Strode a chance to be front and center, and he more than rises to the occasion.

Powerful work by a strong man.