27 November 2012

80th Anniversary of the Premiere of the Greatest Film of All Time


StGuyFawkes said...

Dear Cineastes,

"The Searchers" directed by John Ford, and starring John Wayne and Natalie Wood is arguably the greatest film of all time. It is a better candidate for the honor of "The Greatest Film" than "Casablanca".

My preference for "The Searchers" dates me in as much as the film's earliest champions were the "Cahiers du Cinema" critics who became directors and launched the French New Wave of the late 1950s (Goddard, Trufaut, et alios.)

Shortly thereafter, over on the American side, Scorsese, Coppola, Schrader, Spielberg, Cimino and Lucas discovered the film and busily began either remaking it ("Taxi Driver" / "The Deer Hunter"), or stealing scenes from it (see Luke's return to his uncle's burning home in "Star Wars, IV.)

Why "The Searchers" is the best film and so highly praised goes to our contemporary sexual difficulties. How could that be?

"The Searchers" is the greatest because it remains the template for any film which wants to explore the conflict between a high, chivalric and pure sexual love as opposed to a low and animal rut. Throughout "The Searchers" the dualities are very tightly drawn. Ethan's chaste and hidden love for his sister-in-law is opposed to Debbie's concubinage to Scar. Charlie McGrory's barnyard courtship is contrasted with Marty's chaste pursuit of Debby's return while he loves Laurie from afar. Marty's accidental marriage to Look, the squaw gives a comic rendition of the conflict between love, high and low. In every part of "The Searchers' the conflict is between civilization and private erotic satisfaction.

The conflict over a pure as opposed to a selfish love plays out in "Casablanca" as well. Rick must decide to either pursue a selfish love that tries to escape any social responsibility ("I stick my neck out for nobody") or he must follow a chaste and selfless love which elevates him to a path of political and social bravery.

His chivalric decision to give up Ilsa is powerful enough to draw Louis, the Vichy Prefect of Police, to similar heroism.

In the end, sexual restraint both in "The Searchers" and "Casablanca", becomes the cornerstone of social responsibility and political praxis. It's what insures the happy endings to both films.

I cannot place "Casablanca" on the same shelf with "The Searchers" because the theme of "chivalric love" fails to permeate every square inch of the Casablanca narrative, as it does in "The Searchers." However, like "The Searchers", "Casablanca" is a remnant of a time when sexual responsibility and heroism were known to be complements, or two sides of the same coin.

St. Guy

Anonymous said...

Where can we search for "The Searchers"?


X said...

This "movie" doesn't merit analysis. It's cheap political warmongering propaganda. The sole purpose was to demonize Germanys cause while sanctifying the so called Allied cause. All else is just a vehicle to that end. Never mind that Germany never had troops in Casablanca or that it was France that had declared war on Germany. It was the Good War.
I'm sure that in the many, many lonely years to follow Mrs. Sullivan, whose five boys all drowned on the Juneau, derived great comfort from the knowledge that her sons deaths helped ensure a future for America, a future where abortion on demand was a right and homosexual marriage a reality, where welfare and Wallstreet parasites could enjoy a life of luxury at the expense of all who labor, a place where pills and pornography eternally pollute our cultural aquifers, a place of war without end, amen.

Anonymous said...

Has The Goonies really been out for 80 years?

Time flies.

Proud SLPS Parent

Steve said...

This is the rare site in the so-called Catholic blogosphere where X can post a defense of the poor, misunderstood, "demonized" Third Reich and not be challenged. Amazing that no one has called X out. He or she laments the fact that the Allies resisted Hitler and his forces. And the people who comment on this blog regularly appear to be okay with that. Incredible.

thetimman said...


1. Didn't you just call X out? So, someone did, yes?

2. Your inferences from the lack of comments from others seems unfair to me. Are you scanning the web every day for every such kind of comment and commenting against it? Because if you don't get them all, you must approve of them, according to the standard you use.

StGuyFawkes said...

Dear Steve,

Regarding X's review of Casablanca I understand your disappointment. Silence is regarded both in law, and morality as a mode of condoning an act or opinion.

Nonetheless, I think you do wrong to infer that the STLCATH community supports the view that the Nazis have been unjustly defamed since, had we only let them win, they would have been so very bully at suppressing homosexuality in public restrooms, the Central West End, and in high school theatre departments everywhere.

Steve, believe me! Few STLCATH readers miss the good old days when "the twisted cross" gave such colorfully robust leadership to countries like France, Hungary, Romania and the Ukraine.

This really is not a "collabo" nostalgia blog.

Rather, the lack of response to X's unabomber quaintness, that is our failure to reply to whether Hitler was, in fact, "Springtime for Germany" and a nice thaw in the weather for Poland and France -- that deafening silence -- is better understood as an indication of this blog's good taste.

St. Guy

Steve said...

St. Guy Fawkes,

Thanks for the response. But I've seen defenses of the Confederacy on this blog in the past, as well as take-downs of Lincoln, and there's plenty of hatred towards Obama and Democrats in general (not simply disagreement, charitable dissent, but demonizing of the man). And X comes along and defends fascism (because it would have spared us terrible immorality,ha!), and surprise, surprise, X's comment goes unchallenged for three days on this blog. I find that curious, along with this blog's willingness in the past to demonstrate love for the Confederacy (slavery-embracing regime, no matter how much you want to portray the Confederacy as being all about "states rights"). If you're going to put the name "Catholic" on a blog, perhaps you should challenge hatred and oppression rather than embrace it or tolerate it.

schmenz said...

I find nothing particularly objectionable in X's post, at least insofar as he points out (correctly) that CASABLANCA, superb though it is, was basically propaganda. Of course that film was not the only one to demonize the innocent German people as opposed to the decadent leadership of that poor country. The 1940s were full of such films, some good, some not so good.

And while we're on the subject there are many good Catholic blogs like this one who point out strongly the vile leadership that we ourselves live under right now. Whatever crimes the National Socialists committed, those that are documented and those that are exaggerated, they compare rather well with the crimes being committed by the frothing-at-the-mouth, deranged monsters who control this government. We are hardly in a position to be casting stones at dictatorships of the past while we are witnessing the real, live birth of a despotism in America that is well set to be even worse than the Communists and the Nazis. Those of us who cheer on the unjust wars we are and have been waging against countries that have done us no harm whatsoever, and who sit idly by while these bastards shove sodomy and abortion down our throats should be less worried about old crimes and more worried about the current ones happening right now, this minute, in the land of the free. Those who live in glass houses...

Returning to CASABLANCA, an excellent film in any case (though not in my top ten) one can still enjoy it even if it is rather one-sided. It is a beautiful piece of film craftsmanship and for that alone it deserves high praises. So does THE SEARCHERS, by the way, despite the rather odd analysis provided by a previous poster. It's a jolly good film, made with TLC by a real film master, but is it the greatest? Well, if you think it is then it is.

thetimman said...

Steve, your assumptions are as well founded as the logic of your arguments.

Do you think the American revolution was justified? I'm sure you don't, as it was carried out by a slaveholding conspiracy. And obviously you support that action because of slavery. Or if you supported the British, it must be because they persecuted Catholics.

Are you in favor of abortion? You want millions of babies killed? If you voted for Obama, Kerry, Gore or Clinton, I can only assume, based on your logic, that it was because of their baby-killing proclivities.

State any political or moral position you like. Spare me telling me or others what mine are.

StGuyFawkes said...

Dear Steve,

Putting all snarkiness aside I think you have understandably misread the intent of this blog and its moderator.

Traditional Catholicism represents the history and liturgical integrity of the Church. Like it or not, it comes with some baggage. Like any very conservative (or very liberal) movement, it sometimes seems anchored by a faction of the febrile and infantile.

In our case Traditional Catholicism has sometimes been host to gold standard holdouts, neo-confederates, Vichy revisionists, monarchists, Carlists, Fr. Feeney's Slaves, Fr. Coughlin's economics, and on, and on, and on.

This does not diminish the essential integrity of the search for liturgical and social restoration.

What you are seeing in this thread is Tim's essential libertarianism and his willingness to let Traditional Catholicism express itself warts and all. You have probably read this blog for many years and if you think back you'll notice that he lets in every form of opinion just as the doors to Mass each Sunday are open to anyone who wants to come in.

Back when the only indult Mass in St. Louis was at St. Agatha's Fr. Rodis faced a similar dilemma. He found some Latin Mass Catholics were distributing literature from the John Birch Society on the church steps after Mass.

He quickly stopped them. He wouldn't let Tradition Family and Property work the crowd either.

But Fr. Rodis is a Catholic priest. Tim is a layman running a blog. I guarantee you, none of us would allow sentimentality for nazism to be expressed near a church. However, a blog is a different thing and it's better to let the wounds bleed in the open sometimes.

I do appreciate your comments because Catholicism confronts culture and questions like why is "True Grit" a good movie must come up from time to time, and people will say outrageous things.

Like claiming the movie is Calvinist.

St. Guy