The Searchers script
The Searchers (1956)
Synopsis: The Searchers is a 1956 American Technicolor VistaVision Western film directed by John Ford, based on the 1954 novel by Alan Le May, set during the Texas–Indian Wars, and starring John Wayne as a middle-aged Civil War veteran who spends years looking for his abducted niece (Natalie Wood), accompanied by his adoptive nephew (Jeffrey Hunter). Critic Roger Ebert found Wayne's character, Ethan Edwards, "one of the most compelling characters Ford and Wayne ever created".

FADE IN:

Behind the main title and the credits:

1EXT. PLAINS COUNTRY - CLOSE SHOT - MOVING JUST ABOVE GROUND

LEVEL - A STUDY OF HOOFPRINTS - LATE AFTERNOON

The hoofprints are deeply etched in the ground, picking

their way through scrubby desert growth. An occasional

tumbleweed drifts with the light breeze across the pattern

of prints; and lightly-blown soil and sand begin the work

of erasing them. The CAMERA FOLLOWING the hoofprints

raises slowly to:

2EXT. PLAINS COUNTRY - LONG SHOT - LATE AFTERNOON

We see the rider now. BACK TO CAMERA, jogging slowly along

-- heading down a long valley toward a still-distant ranch

house with its outlying barn and corrals.

3EXT. PLAINS COUNTRY - MED. SHOT - MOVING - LATE AFTERNOON

The CAMERA FRAMES and MOVES with the lone horseman. He is

ETHAN EDWARDS, a man as hard as the country he is crossing.

Ethan is in his forties, with a three-day stubble of beard.

Dust is caked in the lines of his face and powders his

clothing. He wears a long Confederate overcoat, torn at

one pocket, patched and clumsily stitched at the elbows.

His trousers are a faded blue with an off-color stripe down

the legs where once there had been the yellow stripes of the

Yankee cavalry. His saddle is Mexican and across it he

carries a folded serape in place of the Texas poncho...

Rider and horse have come a long way. The CAMERA HOLDS and

PANS the rider past and we see another detail; strapped

onto his saddle roll is a sabre and scabbard with a gray

silk sash wrapped around it...Horse and rider pass, moving

closer to the ranch as a little girl and a small dog come

tearing around the corner of the house.

4EXT. THE YARD OF THE EDWARDS RANCH - MED. SHOT - DEBBIE -

LATE AFTERNOON:

She is staring wide-eyed at the distant horseman o.s.

Her little dog has seen him too and is barking excitedly.

DEBBIE quickly reaches to grab the dog by the scruff of

the neck, crouching over him. Debbie is 11 years old with

a piquant, memorable face.

5EXT. THE YARD - CLOSE SHOT - DEBBIE

Here we must establish and dramatize what it is about her

face that is memorable, so that if we were to see her again

five or six years later, we would know it is she -- perhaps

the eye color or the slant of eyebrow, or a trick of

scratching bridge of nose with crooked forefinger.

6EXT. THE EDWARDS HOUSE - MED. SHOT - AARON - LATE AFTERNOON

The ranch house is of adobe, solidly built, with a sod and

cross-timbered roof, deep windows. A small gallery or porch

extends across the front. AARON EDWARDS comes through the

door, attracted by the dog's barking -- and then he, too,

sees the approaching horseman and comes farther out --

curious but not at all apprehensive. Aaron is a lean,

weathered and tired man, with a down-swept mustache; a

gentler-looking man than Ethan and possibly a few years

older.

As he squints off, studying the rider, his older daughter,

LUCY, comes out to stand behind him. Lucy is from 16 to

18 -- a pleasant, feminine girl. She is carrying a mixing

bowl with some sort of batter in it, which she now

completely forgets to whip in her interest in the approaching

stranger.

In the next instant MARTHA EDWARDS follows the daughter onto

the porch. Martha is a still-lovely woman, although the

years have etched fine wrinkles about her eyes and mouth,

and work has worn and coarsened her hands. Those hands will

never be idle when Martha is on scene...And now, while she

shares the family's interest in the approaching horseman,

she automatically notes that Lucy has forgotten her task --

and she takes the mixing bowl from her and stirs the

batter.

7EXT. YARD OF THE EDWARDS HOUSE - FULL SHOT - LATE AFTERNOON

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Frank Nugent

Frank Stanley Nugent (May 27, 1908 – December 29, 1965) was an American journalist, film reviewer, script doctor, and screenwriter who wrote 21 film scripts, 11 for director John Ford. He wrote almost a thousand reviews for The New York Times before leaving journalism for Hollywood. He was nominated for an Academy Award in 1953 and twice won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Comedy. The Writers Guild of America, West ranks his screenplay for The Searchers (1956) among the top 101 screenplays of all time. more…

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"The Searchers" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 21 Nov. 2017. <http://www.scripts.com/script/the_searchers_974>.

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