Rated the best western by AFI's 10 Top 10 list. I chose this movie based entirely on that fact. I'm not a fan of westerns, but I keep seeing pieces of Clint Eastwood movies and my interest was piqued.
John Wayne returns from the civil war, three years late. The indians lead a diversion to bring our hero away from the homestead, then attack Wayne's brother and his family. Wayne's (Ethan, actually) family is slaughtered, except for his two nieces (a young Natalie Wood playing one), who are captured. Ethan becomes obsessed with rescuing them.
The scenery is great. The plot is surprisingly complex. Ethan's motivation is a mystery at first. There are details that only the most careful viewer will pick up on. I watched this with my 12 year old son. He had the same reaction I had. Interesting, but this is the best western? Ever? Wayne, while being the "hero", isn't really a hero character. Some of the acting was fairly poor (I'm looking at you, Jeffrey Hunter!)
Still, it was worth watching. 3 AMRUs.