AirTalk for March 15, 2013

'The Searchers' and how a John Wayne film redefined how we look back at the Old West

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The Searchers bookcover

The classic American movie inspired Glenn Frankel's book, "The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend."

The story begins in 1836. A nine-year-old girl, Cynthia Ann Parker, gets kidnapped by the Comanches and then grows up among them for the next 24 years. When a group of Texas Rangers and U.S. Calvary attack her encampment, the blue-eyed Cynthia Ann was not killed and brought back to her Texan family. However, she was unable to adapt back into Western society and died quietly.

In 1954, Alan Le May picked up this story and turned it into a book, inspiring John Ford to make Cynthia Ann Parker’s tale an iconic American story two years later.

Now, Glenn Frankel takes these three elements and made his own book, “The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend.” He tells how this story has transformed to become myth and examines how the public received John Wayne’s character.

What do you think about Ford’s movie? What does it say about how American society views cultural divides? Is this story still relevant to us today?

Glenn Frankel, author of “The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend”

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