The Searchers: Test your knowledge of John Wayne's masterpiece

By: Staff Writer
Image: tmdb

About This Quiz

"The Searchers" is considered to be one of the best Westerns of all time and one of John Ford's best movies. How much do you know about the movie and the behind-the-scenes drama? Saddle up, and let's head out into the Old West.

What is the story of "The Searchers" based on?

"The Searchers" is based on the 1954 novel by Alan Le May, and fans of the book say that it sticks close to the novel.

Why doesn't young Lucy wear the locket that Uncle Ethan gave her?

Ethan's niece Lucy was given a locket, but Debbie admits that Lucy doesn't wear it because it turns her neck green.

How tall was John Wayne?

John Wayne was a towering man. This is evident throughout most of the picture, when the women look tiny next to him.

Where is the story of "The Searchers" set?

The movie is set in Northwest Texas, where "cowboys and Indians" notoriously duked it out, and plains life was hard and violent.

Where was the movie actually filmed?

John Ford loved using Monument Valley to shoot his movies, thanks to its dramatic landscape and stunning vistas.

John Wayne's character, Ethan, is a veteran of which war?

Ethan was a confederate fighter in the Civil War. Much of his discontent at the beginning of the film is due to his side losing the war.

When Ethan returns from the desert, what has happened to his brother's home?

When Ethan returns, he sees that the home has been burnt by the Comanches, and his nieces have gone missing.

Who played the Comanche roles in the film?

The Indians in the film are supposed to be Comanche, but they're all played by Navajo, except for the chief Indian, Scar.

In the film, how do the Comanches bury their dead?

The searchers discover an Indian burial in the desert, where a man is buried shallow in the ground but with a large, flat rock over him. Some viewers claim that the actor is moving in that scene.

Ethan comes across a herd of what kind of animal during his search?

Ethan encounters a herd of buffalo, and it's a very memorable shot in the film. Where did John Ford get all those buffalo, one has to ask?

What are the searchers searching for?

The search party, which becomes just Ethan and Martin, are searching for Lucy and Debbie. However, it is discovered early on that Lucy is dead.

What's a famous "John Wayne line" in "The Searchers"?

This famous quote is repeated a number of times in the film, and each time is more satisfying than the last.

Where is Lucy found?

Lucy is found dead in the canyon, but Ethan doesn't tell Marty till later. He recalls how he wrapped the girl in his jacket.

What are the people of Texas referred to as during the film?

Texas-Americas developed a fun name for themselves after the Civil War, and that was Texicans.

What does Ethan call male Indians?

Male Comanches are referred to as "bucks" in the film. Demeaning, to say the least, to call human beings horses.

What does Ethan call female Indians?

The ladies were referred to as "squaws." Some people also take this to be a derogatory word.

When Martin barters for a blanket, what does he get in return?

Martin barters for a blanket with the Indians, and he finds that he gets a wife in the bargain. The lady, Look, follows him everywhere.

What does Ethan call his adopted nephew?

Ethan frequently calls Martin a blanket-head. It's uncertain what the heck that means.

What did John Wayne think about his role in "The Searchers"?

John Wayne considers "The Searchers" to be his favorite film, and the one he's the most proud of.

The final scene of the movie was ad-libbed​ in homage to which of John Wayne's friends?

Harry Carey (a Western star, not to be confused with Harry Caray, the baseball announcer) had recently died, and at the end of the film John Wayne holds his arm for a moment; a signature Harry Carey move.

What became John Wayne's Point in Monument Valley?

It was one of the last scenes in the movie, and it's now named after John Wayne.

Which is true about the relationship between Natalie Wood and John Wayne?

Natalie Wood attended high school during the shoot, and often John Wayne would have to come to school to pick her up.

Which is true about John Wayne's acting style in the movie?

According to Harry Carey Jr's book, "Company of Heroes", John Wayne stayed in character between takes.

What brief moment of subtext at the beginning​ of the film would you miss if you blinked?

For a brief moment, we see Ethan looking longingly at his brother's wife. John Ford suggested to Wayne that he was in love, and that perhaps Lucy and Debbie were actually his children.

In 2007, what ranking did "The Searchers" get from the American Film Institute's Greatest Movies of All Time?

It's considered the greatest Western of all time, and ranked #12 as one of the Greatest Movies of All Time.

In a climactic scene in the movie, Debbie and Ethan run up a hill in Monument Valley, and where do they come down on the other side?

That's right. The other side of that hill was shot in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, some 647 miles away.

What did Ethan give young Debbie, which is later discovered on the Indian chief, Scar?

Before she was captured, Ethan gave Debbie a medal, which he later finds being worn by Scar, just before rediscovering Debbie.

Natalie Wood played older Debbie, but who played young Debbie?

Natalie's sister, Lana Wood, made her film debut in "The Searchers," playing young Debbie.

Who played the young, nervous military officer in the film?

John Wayne's son, Patrick, played the frightened military officer. In later years, Patrick would admit that he was not acting in the scene, but was merely terrified by John Ford.

How long is the film?

"The Searchers" is almost exactly two hours, making is a perfectly-timed drama/action film.

How old was John Wayne when the film was released?

John Wayne was 49 when the film was released, but looks a little older. Maybe it was all those Camel cigarettes.

What mishap occurred during the filming of "The Searchers"?

John Ford was, indeed, stung by a scorpion. But apparently that didn't stop him from proceeding.

Which of these directors did NOT cite "The Searchers" as a key inspiration in their career?

Scorsese, Lucas and Spielberg all say that they learned a great deal from the film, and used it as an inspiration in their own.

What year was "The Searchers" released?

"The Searchers" was released in 1956, when John Wayne was at the height of his career.

What was the budget for "The Searchers"?

Considered meager by today's standards, the budget for "The Searchers" was just 3.75 million dollars.

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