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".
The film was a commercial success. Since its release, it has come to be considered a masterpiece and one of the greatest and most influential films ever made. It was named the greatest American Western by the American Film Institute in 2008, and it placed 12th on the same organization's 2007 list of the 100 greatest American movies of all time. Entertainment Weekly also named it the best Western. The British Film Institute's Sight & Sound magazine ranked it as the seventh-best film of all time based on a 2012 international survey of film critics and in 2008, the French magazine Cahiers du Cinéma ranked The Searchers number 10 in their list of the 100 best films ever made.
In 1989, The Searchers was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress, and selected for preservation in its National Film Registry; it was one of the first 25 films selected for the registry.
The Searchers was the first major film to have a purpose-filmed making-of, requested by John Ford. It deals with most aspects of making the movie, including preparation of the site, construction of props, and filming techniques.