Last Saturday February 7,2015, the Hamptons International Film Festival hosted its 6th annual Winter Classic with the screening of Director John Ford’s film, “The Searchers.” The event was hosted by Alec Baldwin and HIFF Artistic Director, David Nugent and was well attend in spite of a forecast of troubling travel conditions.
I attended the screening and instantly understood why David Nugent said many call, “The Searchers,” “One of the ten best films of all time.” Legendary director John Ford made 21 films with John Wayne. Alec Baldwin explained that Mr. Ford, “loved John Wayne as an actor,” and always focused on making Wayne bigger and better than life. Baldwin, who was very casually dressed, jokingly alluded to being jealous that he has never had such a director’s love. Baldwin joked that he felt when directors looked at him through the lens they were seeing, “perhaps their sixth or seventh choice.”
“The Searchers” cinematography was unbelievable with the huge wide-open vista’s that gave you the feeling you were sitting on a rock watching the horses ride by. The portrayal of the Native Americans, or Indians as they were called in 1956, when this film was released was very much of that period. The politically correct crowd would not love this. Although the film was to have taken place in Texas in 1868 it was actually shot in Utah. The clarity on the big screen was so awesome that my wife, who neither likes John Wayne nor Westerns, complimented the cinematography saying that alone made the film worth watching. Also in the film was a young teenaged Natalie Wood, as was her younger sister Lana Wood, who actually played the same character (Debbie) that Natalie played but 6 years younger. The film centers around Debbie being taken by hostile Indians and John Wayne spending 5 long years to find her to rescue her.
After the film, David Nugent mention the 2015 Hamptons International Film Festival will again be Columbus Day weekend in October and ticket and passes are already on sale at www.Hamptonsfilmfest.org. Alec Baldwin explained to those in attendance that 2 of last years 4 featured HIFF Summer Docs (Documentary) featured at Guild Hall were nominated for Academy Awards. Attending the Summer Docs screenings is highly recommended as an amazing summer Hamptons activity.
The question and answer part of the screening, always a big part of all Hamptons Film Festival screenings, was lively and featured comments by The Stephen Talkhouse owner Peter Honercamp who was invited onto the stage to share his film expertise. However the real hero of the night was a gentleman in the audience who was a life long friend of John Ford and shared a few antidotes about the making of this film and of John Ford’s life.