That’ll Be the Day

Of his cinematic influences, Orson Welles once remarked, “I prefer the old masters — by which I mean John Ford, John Ford and John Ford.” And while the old master’s greatest work comprises a list as long as your arm, 1956’s The Searchers is widely regarded as Ford’s definitive effort. By daring to cast John Wayne, his frequent collaborator, as a vehement racist hellbent on revenge against the Comanches who abducted his niece, Ford transformed ­serene Monument Valley into the crucible of that character’s single-minded determination and rage. Anchored by Wayne’s performance, the film transcends the Western genre to take its place among the greatest American films ever made. The first in a series of monthly Western matinees, The Searchers screens at 2 p.m. in Atkins Auditorium at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (4525 Oak, 816-751-1278). Admission is free, but tickets are required; reserve them online at— Brent Shepherd

Sun., Nov. 14, 2-4:30 p.m., 2010