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August 11, 2009


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Shawn Stone

There's something deeply amusing about KLo calling Podhoretz "JPod."

Ralph Spoilsport

A. O. Scott wrote a nice essay on The Searchers for the Sunday New York Times a few years ago. Perhaps if jpod read it he might get a clue.


@Shawn Stone

It's because somebody explained to her what "P-hore" sounded like. I imagine the nickname fills Douglas Coupland with great consternation.

@our host

That ruined my day. I hate Lopez, and I find myself forced to agree wtih you. Thanks, Kenny. Thanks a lot! ;-)

Dan Coyle

I'm bemused by someone named Podhoretz discomfited by a film about a man forced to confront his own murderous prejudices, and finding himself wanting.


Do my eyes deceive me, Mr. Kenny, or did you just reference "An American Carol?"


Uh, I just looked it up and learned that it was something Viktor Laszlo says in "Casablanca." That's a more, um, logical reference.

Don't look at me like that. Who the hell remembers anything Viktor Laszlo says?

The Siren

This made my day, even all the way across the Atlantic. What's she apologizing for, though? Movie was released more than 50 years ago. She's no more belated than her paisanos.

Her politics give me a twitch in my right eyelid but she endures an awful lot of extremely ugly personal abuse in various comments sections so I hope she sees this. :)


I must confess that I am a Ford skeptic, and therefore of the idea that "The Searchers" is one of The Supreme Achievements of Cinema. Why, just to take the allusion in the entry title, it is considered a better movie than "Casablanca?" Or why is "The Searchers" considered to be in the top 20 movies of all time, while "Army of Shadows" is considered 600 or 700 places below, a good movie in its own terms, but not worthy of the same esteem? Both deal with the same theme, people engaged in coventionally heroic behavior whose actions are a lot more grey than they appear. Would it be so unreasonable to reverse the rankings? Is it so unreasonable to compare its reputation unfavorably with "Ivan the Terrible"? Eisenstein's film is a more courageous take on Stalinism than Ford's is on American racism, and he faced something far worse than Bosley Crowther's lack on enthusiasm.


I myself just saw The Searchers. I'm sort of embarrassed about having that blind spot for as long as I did. It's indubitably great. Most of its detractors seem unwilling or unable to get past the layer of slightly antiquated dramatic artifice, turn off their snark switch, and engage with the basic substance of the film, which is undated and will probably stay that way.

@ partisan: I think it's because its influence is so vast, more so than even Casablanca. On a moral and psychological level it essentially lays the groundwork for the modern American movie (influencing Coppola, Scorsese, et al, who influenced more filmmakers, and so on). At the same time, as a piece of craft it's a high water mark for the classical western. It's like the portal between Old Hollywood and New Hollywood, if such a thing can be reduced to a single movie.


This reminds me of a great crack that John Powers, then writing for the L.A. Weekly, made back in the early '90s when Bush Sr. was President. Noting he had spent the weekend watching THE SEARCHERS and THE GREEN BERETS, Powers wrote, "On top of all his other sins, Bush can't even tell a good John Wayne movie from a bad one."



Where are you getting these rankings? IMBD? Boy, I hope not.


@ Dan

Actually theyshootpictures.com


OK, so what's the difference?

"Ranking" movies is ultimately pointless. Fun, if you don't take it seriously, but pointless. While we can certainly sort movies by certain technical measures, beyond a certain point it becomes a matter of taste.

Here's a key reason "The Searchers" is in the #20 spot on theyshootpictures.com: more people have seen it than have seen pretty much any movie that isn't, well, a huge Hollywood picture starring a well-known actor.

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