Built Ford Tough


To my tastes, the world has rarely harbored enough reservations about John Ford and has always held far too many about John Wayne, but everyone has always been able to agree about this 1956 classic, which is as far from an ordinary mid-century western as King Lear is from a soap opera. The obsessive hunt for a kidnapped frontier girl (eventually, Natalie Wood) is the through-line, lasting for years and growing into a perverted odyssey of xenophobic self-hatred and waste, with Wayne at the center in arguably the most profound portrait of macho montrosity ever delivered by an American movie star. This two-disc, 50th anniversary set is marvelously decked out, with three background/making-of documentaries, a Peter Bogdanovich commentary, hard-copy stills and production correspondence (to and from Jack Warner), a booklet of ad art, and beguilingly, a repro of the original 10 Dell comic book, artist unknown. Incidentally, The Searchers also pops out of Warner’s Ford-Wayne superbox, containing six other features (3 Godfathers, Fort Apache, The Long Voyage Home, etc.), Ford’s home movies, docs, trailers, and more.