Everything great about American westerns can be found in John Ford’s The Searchers, a regular candidate for one of the greatest films ever made. John Wayne plays Civil War veteran Ethan Edwards, a racist, cranky bastard who has to deal with the death of his brother and sister-in-law –murdered by comanches – before tracking down their kidnapped children along with his part-indian companion Martin (Jeffrey Hunter). Their journey unfolds over a period of years, and monument valley becomes a character in itself, gorgeously realized by the director. It’s the performances, particularly Wayne who balances his characters heroic and hateful sides brilliantly, which linger with the viewer. The final shot with Ethan framed in a doorway as he walks away may be the most imitated in history.