A problematic classic.

A problematic classic.

Credit:

Studio 360

John Ford was over a hundred films deep in a directing career that had begun in the silent era when he set out to create a “psychological epic.” The resulting film, “The Searchers,”  was a Western set against the bloody conflict between the native Comanche and Texas settlers after the Civil War.

A poster for the 1956 film “The Searchers.”

A poster for the 1956 film “The Searchers.”

Credit:

Album/Alamy Stock Photo

It showcased John Wayne, turning his archetypal strength and stoicism into viciousness as a returned soldier hell-bent on revenge against the Comanche who killed his family in a raid. The figure of an honorable man demented by violence and revenge took its place as a new type of American anti-hero.

John Wayne, Beulah Archuletta and Jeffrey Hunter in “The Searchers.”

John Wayne, Beulah Archuletta and Jeffrey Hunter in “The Searchers.”

Credit:

United Archives GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo

This latest installment of our American Icons series looks at “The Searchers” and its complicated legacy.

American Icons is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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