How the West was won


September 06, 1998|By ANN HORNADAY

Sunday night is a school night, but it's worth staying up tonight to catch two classic Westerns on the TCM channel.

At 8 p.m. it's my favorite John Ford movie, "The Searchers" (1956), a sprawling, vividly colored epic starring John Wayne as a man obsessed with finding his niece (Natalie Wood), who has been kidnapped by Indians. Whereas many of Ford's Westerns bore more than a whiff of racism, "The Searchers" - which you should really see on a big screen if possible - betokens a slightly more reflective attitude on the part of the director, who depicts BTC Wayne's character as more deranged than heroic.

If you're still awake, watch "High Noon" (1952) at 10 p.m. on the same network. The classic - President Clinton's favorite, and why not? - stars a wonderfully weathered Gary Cooper as a retired marshal who must defend his town from his arch-enemy. The Western at its most self-referentially poignant, directed with elegiac feeling by Fred Zinneman.

Pub Date: 9/06/98

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