The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend

The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend

Glenn Frankel / Jul 14, 2020
The Searchers The Making of an American Legend In in East Texas nine year old Cynthia Ann Parker was kidnapped by Comanches She was raised by the tribe and eventually became the wife of a warrior Twenty four years after her capture she was
  • Title: The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend
  • Author: Glenn Frankel
  • ISBN: 9781608191055
  • Page: 228
  • Format: Hardcover
  • In 1836 in East Texas, nine year old Cynthia Ann Parker was kidnapped by Comanches She was raised by the tribe and eventually became the wife of a warrior Twenty four years after her capture, she was reclaimed by the U.S cavalry and Texas Rangers and restored to her white family, to die in misery and obscurity Cynthia Ann s story has been told and re told over generatiIn 1836 in East Texas, nine year old Cynthia Ann Parker was kidnapped by Comanches She was raised by the tribe and eventually became the wife of a warrior Twenty four years after her capture, she was reclaimed by the U.S cavalry and Texas Rangers and restored to her white family, to die in misery and obscurity Cynthia Ann s story has been told and re told over generations to become a foundational American tale The myth gave rise to operas and one act plays, and in the 1950s to a novel by Alan LeMay, which would be adapted into one of Hollywood s most legendary films, The Searchers, The Biggest, Roughest, Toughest and Most Beautiful Picture Ever Made directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne Glenn Frankel, beginning in Hollywood and then returning to the origins of the story, creates a rich and nuanced anatomy of a timeless film and a quintessentially American myth The dominant story that has emerged departs dramatically from documented history it is of the inevitable triumph of white civilization, underpinned by anxiety about the sullying of white women by savages What makes John Ford s film so powerful, and so important, Frankel argues, is that it both upholds that myth and undermines it, baring the ambiguities surrounding race, sexuality, and violence in the settling of the West and the making of America.
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    About "Glenn Frankel"

      • Glenn Frankel

        Glenn Frankel worked for nearly 30 years for the Washington Post, as a reporter, a foreign correspondent, and editor of the Washington Post Magazine As Jerusalem bureau chief, he won the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for sensitive and balanced reporting from Israel and the Middle East His first book, Beyond the Promised Land Jews and Arabs on the Hard Road to a New Israel won the National Jewish Book Award His second, Rivonia s Children Three Families and the Cost of Conscience in White South Africa was a finalist for South Africa s prestigious Alan Paton Award Frankel has been an Alicia Patterson Journalism Fellow and a Hearst Visiting Professional in the Department of Communication at Stanford He is currently the Director of the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin His new book is The Searchers The Making of an American Legend, the true story and myth behind John Ford s classic Western film, starring John Wayne.


    1. The film opens in darkness and then a door opens out onto the endless, Technicolor plains A woman steps out onto a porch and the camera follows, panning to the right Over her shoulder, the camera catches a solitary rider heading towards the cabin civilization with the desolation and savagery of the frontier at his back It is a perfect way to start a movie, encapsulating that old saw that every story begins with one of two events a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes into town Less than two [...]

    2. John Ford s classic movieThe Searchers is one of my absolute favorite movies I ve watched it dozens of times and own the title on VHS and DVD at least 3 different copies in the latter format Obviously, I was a guaranteed sell for Mr Frankel s book In spite of my familiarity with the movie it had oddly never occurred to me that the events on the screen had been based on actual historical occurrences This book set me straight on that point, and showed the chain of events which resulted in the port [...]

    3. I found this a fascinating look at both the history behind and the making of the movie The Searchers Basically this book is divided into 4 parts First Mr Frankel tells the story of Cynthia Ann Parker, a young 9 yr old girl captured by the Comanche in 1836, and her uncle who spent 7 yrs looking for her The second part tells the story of her son, the Comanche Chief Quanah Parker The author then gives us the story of the Novel and the author of that novel Alan LeMay Finally he tells the story of Jo [...]

    4. An excellent concept for a book, this volume has three successive sections, all tied together by the tough cord of John Ford s masterpiece, the classic Western film THE SEARCHERS In the first section, author Glenn Frankel explores with intelligence and amazing depth the true story of Cynthia Ann Parker, kidnapped by Comanches from her family in 1836 Texas, raised as an Indian while her uncle spent years looking for her, and re abducted back into white society as a grown woman with children one o [...]

    5. Glenn Frankel has written one of those rare books that combine two very different topics Texas frontier history and cinema history so seamlessly that the reader wonders why no one thought of doing it before now Frankel begins his tale with the story of Cynthia Ann Parker, the little girl who was kidnapped by Comanche raiders after she watched them butcher most of her family He ends it with an engrossing account of the making of one of Hollywood s best known movies, The Searchers, the John Wayne [...]

    6. The Searchers is a fine account of the history, myth, novel, and filmmaking behind the John Ford movie by the same name The first third of the book is about the double kidnapping of Cynthia Ann Parker, first by Comanche raiders and then, years later, by white soldiers by the time she was rescued she was very much a Comanche, married, with two children, one of whom was Quanah Parker, who became one of the last resistors to reservation life and then a leader in assimilation, even hosting President [...]

    7. I ve never been a big fan of Western movies in general or John Wayne in particular However, THE SEARCHERS was an exception The story was intriguing and disturbing, the location of the film had moments that were breath taking, and John Wayne was brilliant in the lead role So, when I saw this book in my recommended list, I thought I d give it a try.For me, this was an exceptional book.The movie was based on a popular novel, and the novel was based on an actual incident Rather than glossing over th [...]

    8. This is really two books, loosely affiliated, both excellent The first is an exploration of the Native American practice of kidnapping and occasional assimilation of captives often the encroaching white settlers mostly through one infamous family s experience It is an honest, unromanticized examination of a custom that was sometimes empathetic, other times brutal, often both, and it neither condemns nor exalts the practitioners It also does justice to the people who existed between the conflicti [...]

    9. A while ago, I read a book attempting to reconstruct accurately the events surrounding the lives of Cynthia Ann Parker and her son Quanah This takes a different tack to what ends has this story been put, culminating in the filming of John Ford s The Searchers Early chapters consider the leveraging of the captivity narrative by Parker relatives to encourage retaliation against the Comanche, while later, Quanah Parker used an emphasis on his half white background to make a case for being a bridge [...]

    10. Less about the movie and about one of the incidents that inspired the novel on which the movie is based Fascinating stuff, but after a while I m like enough already When we get to the filmmaking section the author shifts into high gear and speeds through a sort of Reader s Digest synopsis At times he seems to accuse the novelist Alan LeMay and the filmmakers of painting a dark one dimensional picture of the Comanche, despite the fact that he himself, early in the book, is exceptionally grim in [...]

    11. Just like the movie, the book was interesting and full of lots of information and I really wanted to like it, it just fell a bit short Again, like the movie a lot of the people on the book and the movie aren t very likeable.The books is structured like four short books compiled into one The first part covers the conflict between the Comanches and the Texans and also covers the kidnapping and rescue of Cynthia Ann Parker The second part covers her son Quanah Parker who bridged the two cultures Pa [...]

    12. Frankel tells several linked stories First there is the true story of Cynthia Ann Parker, who witnessed her family s murder as a nine year old as she was kidnapped by Commanche raiders in East Texas in 1836 the persistent and futile efforts of her uncle, James Parker, to scour the Indian lands of Texas in a dangerous multi year search for her before finally wearing out and giving up her rescue years later by a combined force of US Army cavalry and Texas Rangers who massacred much of her Indian f [...]

    13. The modern image of Indians nurtured by the Native Americans rights movement, revisionist historians, and the film Dances with Wolves has been one of profoundly spiritual and environmentally friendly genocide victims seeking harmony with the land and humankind But the Comanches were nobody s victims and no one s friends They were magnificent, brutal, and relentless I love a good true life story and this was one was amazing When Cynthia Ann Parker was nine her family was massacred by the Comanche [...]

    14. Well done and interesting Didn t know anything about the movie or the underlying story until I picked up this book Brought a new perspective on the end of the Indian wars in Texas and Oklahoma Recommended After reading the book, I finally watched the movie expecting something greater than what I saw Despite not having the same appreciation for the movie as Frankel does, the book stands on its own and remains recommended.

    15. Frankel begins his book with an account of the attack by Comanche Indians on Parker s Fort in 1836, the massacre of many of the inhabitants, and the abduction of several of the survivors including Cynthia Ann Parker, then nine years old One of her uncles, James Parker, spent nine years attempting to penetrate Comanche country, locate his niece, and rescue his niece All his efforts were futile Then in 1860 a mixed force of Texas Rangers and U.S Cavalry attacked a Comanche camp on the Pease River, [...]

    16. When I heard of this book I just had to read it THE SEARCHERS is one of my favorite movies It is difficult to realize that many of today s movie fans have never seen John Ford s 1957 film My Son in law recently watched the Bluray version with my Grandsons How many of us are aware of the historical events that lead to Alan LeMay s novel and to Frank Nugen s screenplay for what many consider John Ford s best film And John Wayne s finest performance in a film that finds him bound and determined to [...]

    17. A serious and detailed look at the renowned John Ford film, from the backstory to the book to the film itself.The basic synopsis of the film is that a young girl played as a child by Lana Wood, as a near adult by 16 year old Natalie Wood is kidnapped by Comanches who slaughter her family Her uncle John Wayne and adopted half breed brother Jeffrey Hunter spend the next five years searching for her, but for very different reasons Her brother wants to bring her home Her uncle wants to kill her, an [...]

    18. The worthy Jim Beaver states, This is a book that transcends the movie behind it It portrays real history with insight and intensity and gives enormous resonance to the book and movie drawn from that history I agree in the strongest terms.And I ll go further and say that this is the best book I ve read on both on Hollywood and 19th c America in many a year I m not a huge fan of Wayne s or of the film, but I respect both Wayne s performance and the film itself as seminal The enduring value of thi [...]

    19. In 1836 a nine year old girl named Cynthia Ann Parker was taken captive by Commanches in Texas, from land her homesteading family had co opted from the tribe they, in turn, co opted Cynthia Ann among others Twenty four years later, she was reclaimed or, to use the language of the time, redeem d Only she wasn t saved by this redemption she was destroyed by it, as she had become a full member of the tribe, the wife of a warrior, the mother of his two sons, a sin in the eyes of he redeemers as she [...]

    20. Kind of a duel bit of non fiction here with Glenn Frankel devoting time to the actual Comanche kidnapping in 20th century texas, the novel that was inspired by it and ultimately the John Ford western drawn from the novel Famed Comanche Quanah Parker was the son of the white woman taken by the Comanche in a raid on farmers in some remote agricultural outpost As usual, I root hard for the Comanche when they face the texas rangers, the cavalry or any other person coming in contact with them They ar [...]

    21. Frankel investigates an historical event that becomes a book and then a movie The murder of a pioneer family and capturing of the daughter Cynthia Ann Parker by Commanches is the historical event Parker spent 20 years among the Commanche before being recaptured by Texas Rangers Frankel spends too long recounting Commanche history its done better elsewhere but the story of how it became a much changed story in a book by Alan Le May and changed even when it became John Ford s movie The Searchers [...]

    22. A fascinating book that is several books in one It s a history of the relations between settlers and Comanches, concentrating on the kidnapping of Cynthia Ann Parker It s a short biography of Quanah Parker, who tried to bridge the divide between whites and Indians It s a pop culture history of the making of the movie The Searchers Separately, all those stories are fascinating though for me the main interest was on the making of the film Where the book fails is trying all the parts together well [...]

    23. The capture of Cynthia Ann Parker by the Comanche, and her subsequent recapture decades later, was the most famous of the Indian captivity accounts It was an especially well known story because Parker s son, Quanah, became a Comanche leader, one who managed to exert influence in both of the two worlds or at least to prosper Frankel provides a detailed history of Cynthia and Quanah Parker s lives, and then describes how Alan Lemay, the novelist screenwriter, and John Ford, the famous director, us [...]

    24. Great book if you like the movie very detailed backstory of the inspiration for the movie, the story of Cynthia Ann Parker I wish there was detail on the movie itself, including quotes from the actors.

    25. For me the history part of the story was much interesting than the making of the movie part of the book And would it have been too much to ask to include a map

    26. I have been a life long fan of movie westerns and could not pass up a book on THE SEARCHERS, a film I consider every bit as great as CITIZEN KANE Not only does author Glenn Frankel give us a look at the making of John Ford s epic masterpiece, but he gives us the story behind it, thus than living up to the title, THE MAKING OF AN AMERICAN LEGEND.Frankel s book is divided up into three parts, the first of which is the story of the large Parker family who came west in the early 1800 s to make live [...]

    27. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend This is a quote from and also the general theme of what is generally regarded as director John Ford s last great film, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 1962 It could serve equally well as the theme ofThe Searchers The Making of an American Legend, by author Glenn Frankel This book looks at Ford s masterpiece, The Searchers 1956 , delves briefly into the Alan Le May book it was based upon, but spends the greatest number of its pages documenting the t [...]

    28. I wrote a book titled Girty The Legend to describe how 18th and 19th century American mythmakers disguised as historians served the cause of Manifest Destiny to overwhelm the frontier wilderness and destroy the people who depended upon it for life I showed that America s Indians were wiped out not by guns but by plows, axes, and disease The Searchers The Making of an American Legend deals specifically with the use of myth to eliminate the dreaded Comanche Less than 100 years later, Hollywood was [...]

    29. From Real Life to Reel LifeAmerican history contains what really happened and what we believe happened The later creates the myths and legends that we believe about ourselves that can further translate into real life versus reel life As John Ford said in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance , When truth becomes legend print the legend In The Searchers The Making of an American Legend , Glenn Frankel brings us the real life events that inspired the reel life legend in John Ford s The Searchers Franke [...]

    30. Glenn Frankel loves the movie The Searchers, and does a wonderful job of locating it within the history of Cynthia Ann Parker, whose life inspired the novel upon which the movie was based He also does a good job of exploring some of the themes that run through these and many other Westerns, both print and film Lots of interesting facts and comments I m not sure that I agree with him about the greatness of The Searchers I haven t seen it in years, but I don t recall being impressed by it, either [...]

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