New book reveals the story behind the epic Western 'The Searchers'

Actor Harry Carey, Jr. attends a special 50th anniversary screening of 'The Searchers' at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on June 23, 2006 in Beverly Hills, California.

Story highlights

  • Glenn Frankel's new book reveals the true story behind the film "The Searchers"
  • The author chronicles the life of the young girl at the center of the tale, Cynthia Ann Parker
  • The classic John Wayne Western has inspired modern directors like Scorsese, Spielberg, Lucas
"The Searchers" may be the greatest movie Western, and that reputation has only grown since its 1956 premiere.
It boasted three major reasons for its stellar reputation: actor John Wayne, director John Ford and the spectacular location shooting in Monument Valley, Arizona.
But perhaps the key ingredient to its success lies in the foundation of all creative endeavors: the story. "The Searchers" is a mix of truth and legend, obsession and violence -- played out on the rim of a growing nation.
A young white girl is abducted by warring Indians and assimilated into the tribe, while a vengeful uncle launches a years-long quest to find her. Modern directors like Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have sung the film's praises and borrowed its themes of racial hatred, obsession and redemption.
For the first time, this movie -- and the true story of the girl, Cynthia Ann Parker -- is fully chronicled, in Glenn Frankel's new book "The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend" (Bloomsbury USA). The author, a former Washington Post foreign correspondent and now director of the University of Texas at Austin's journalism school, brings a reporter's sparkling eye for nuanced detail and context to explore the film's creation.
It is a winning account filled with larger-than-life characters: women and men who share the power to endure through personal and creative trial.
CNN spoke with Frankel recently about his New York Times best-seller.
CNN: This is a chronicle of myths and truths meshed together. Was your goal in writing this book to divide them?