A number of years ago, I read the book, The Searchers by Alan LeMay. In the book, Ethan dies during the attack on the Comanche village. I guess they wanted a happier ending for the movie version.
My favorite quote from the movie:
Marty: Uncle Ethan
Ethan: Don't call me uncle. I'm not your uncle.
Marty: Yes sir.
Ethan: And don't call me sir, either. Or grandpa, or Methusalah. I could whip you to
That being said, I always wondered about the relationship between Ethan and Martha, his sister-in-law. The way they looked at each other and the way she caressed his coat when the Reverend snuck a look at her in her bedroom. I often thought that they were in love with each other but, for some reason, she married his brother. Maybe Aaron offered a more secure and stable life for her than Ethan. Maybe he was alot more wilder than she wanted but, she still loved him. And when Ethan rides to the burning ranch, the first one he calls for is Martha.
EE, question about the cast. Weren't the Native Americans used in the movie as Comanches, really Navajos, who sort of became part of the Ford-Wayne acting company? I've seen most of them in Fort Apache, Searchers, McClintock and probably Rio Grande and She Wore A Yellow Ribbon.
Also, one person missing from the cast list under the uncredited, is one of the Rangers in the wedding scene. He's on there with Chuck Roberson in a dance number. That would be Terry Wilson who spent 8 years as assisstant wagonmaster Bill Hawks on Wagon Train. At least it sure looks like him. And he too must have been part of the stunt crew that Ford and Wayne used.