Friday, July 07, 2006

Travis Bickle was better

As much as a movie fanatic as I am, there are some classics I really don't care for. One of these is The Searchers, so it's nice to see a bubble-bursting critique of this "classic" from Stephen Metcalf over at Slate:

Coming to The Searchers for the first time, I was surprised at how fidgeted-together this supposedly great film is, how weird its quilting is, of unregenerate violence with doltish comic set pieces, all pitched against Ford's signature backdrop, the buttes and spires of Monument Valley. Though visually magnificent, the movie is otherwise off-putting to the contemporary sensibility, what with its when men were men, and women were hysterics mythos and an acting style that often appears frozen in tintype. (Hank Worden's turn, as the lovable village idiot, is particularly gruesome in this respect.)
There's much more to be read on the other side of the link. Go have a read.

Incidentally, he neglects to mention the other source of "odious comic relief" (patent pending) in the film: John Wayne's sidekick, played by Jeffrey Hunter. Hunter is known to most people as Captain Pike, Commander of the U.S.S. Enterprise in the pilot episode of Star Trek before Shatner came along. When I first saw the pilot (before I saw The Searchers), I wondered how different the series might have been had Hunter remained on the show.

After I saw The Searchers, I could only marvel at the subtle restraint of Shatner's acting technique in comparison.

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