Thursday, June 25, 2015

"...And Scene!" blogathon: "The Searchers", a silent farewell

John Ford
Monument Valley

Sister Celluloid presents the “…And Scene!” Blogathon running June 25 - 28.  Click here for the participating posts on continually fascinating and memorable movie scenes.

The scene that deeply touches me with every viewing is from John Ford's 1956 masterpiece, The Searchers.  It is 40 seconds crucial to the film.



Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) is a wandering man.  He wandered away from his Texas home many years ago to fight in a war and stayed away for many more years involved in activities that his family can only imagine.  His return with newly minted cash hints at the sordid nature of Ethan's life.  The nuclear family of Ethan's brother Aaron, wife Martha and their children, teenagers Lucy and Ben, and young Debbie, welcome Ethan into the fold like a conquering hero.  The comforts of family will be short-lived.

Early the next morning a company of Texas Ranger volunteers led by Captain Clayton (Ward Bond) enlist the Edwards in search of presumed rustlers who ran off a neighbour's cattle.  Ethan takes Aaron's place with the Rangers advising Aaron to "stay close" in case the culprits are not rustlers, but Comanche raiders.

The bustling ranch house is cleared of family and volunteers except for Captain Clayton finishing his coffee and waiting for Ethan.  We are privy to the wordless farewell between Ethan and Martha (Dorothy Jordan).  Alone, Martha's gentle, lingering touch on Ethan's coat betrays her heart.  Their looks and actions tell us that, if not for his wandering ways, Ethan was the Edwards son that Martha should have married.  Sam Clayton knows the truth of their bond and tries to make himself invisible to their intimacy.



Knowing the depth of emotion between Ethan and Martha guides the audience through the story of The Searchers.  While we cannot and should not condone many of Ethan's actions, we understand.

  

 

10 comments:

  1. Okay now I'm crying!! What a beautiful description of a great scene, Patricia!! And something John Ford did so well -- letting the story wordlessly unfold and trusting the audience to understand. Thank you so much for joining the blogathon with this great post!! <3

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    1. Thank you. It is a pleasure to participate in this blogathon. You came up with a real winner.

      You hit on probably my favourite thing about Ford, that he trusts and respects the audience to understand.

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  2. Hm. As many times as I've seen THE SEARCHERS, I can't say I've ever given this moment that much thought. Until now.

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    1. We can watch the same movie and see different things. That's what I love about sharing our appreciation of film. Next time my "wait for it" moment will be yours.

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  3. This is such a lovely scene, and you captured it so well. When I heard of the blogathon, I instantly thought of dialogue-heavy moments; I like that you thought of one that uses silence so beautifully.

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    1. Thank you. I have been very impressed with the wide range of scenes chosen for this blogathon. Makes me happy to be a film fan.

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  4. I feel something in my heart...
    Well, it was a beautiful post, with a nice description of a very moving scene. Ethan and Martha still had a sparkle, after all.
    Thanks for the kind comment!
    Kisses!
    Le

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    1. A touching scene from a master filmmaker. So pleased you enjoyed it.

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  5. I can hear the music as I look at the photos you posted. This scene gets me every time.

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    1. It all came together in that scene. As fine a day's work as Ford and crew ever did.

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