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Martyrs of the Alamo (1915)

 -  Drama | History | War  -  21 November 1915 (USA)
5.7
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Ratings: 5.7/10 from 83 users  
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The story of the defense of the mission-turned-fortress by 185 Texans against an overwhelming Mexican army in 1836.

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(as W. Christy Cabanne)

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, (novel)
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Title: Martyrs of the Alamo (1915)

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Cast

Cast overview:
Sam De Grasse ...
Silent Smith
Allan Sears ...
David Crockett (as A.D. Sears)
Walter Long ...
Santa Anna
Alfred Paget ...
Fred Burns ...
John T. Dillon ...
Colonel Travis (as John Dillon)
Juanita Hansen ...
Old Soldier's Daughter
Ora Carew ...
Tom Wilson ...
Augustus Carney ...
Old Soldier
...
Joe / Texan Soldier (uncredited) (unconfirmed)
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Storyline

The story of the defense of the mission-turned-fortress by 185 Texans against an overwhelming Mexican army in 1836.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | History | War | Western

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Details

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Release Date:

21 November 1915 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Birth of Texas  »

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 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although the participation of Douglas Fairbanks in this film, in an uncredited role as "Joe" / "Texan Soldier" is documented in the American Film Institute Catalog of Feature Films 1911-1920, it is based on a reference found in the New York Times 22 November 1915, but not in any review of the film itself. Since Fairbanks was a leading player on the New York stage at this time, and about to make his screen debut as the star of The Lamb (1915), such an uncredited and unidentifiable bit is unlikely, but not impossible. Nowhere in the film is Fairbanks visible today, nor is there any character named "Joe". A Negro servant, obviously an unidentified white actor in black makeup, is prominent in a couple of scenes and might be Fairbanks, just experimenting, anonymously, with working in front of the camera, at the same studio (Fine Arts) for whom he was about to film "The Lamb", but this is a long shot. See more »

Connections

Version of Davy Crockett at the Fall of the Alamo (1926) See more »

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User Reviews

Like BIRTH OF A NATION set in Mexico and Texas!
19 January 2009 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

The historical accuracy of the films of D.W. Griffith is negligible to say the least! His films seem to portray history the way Griffith wished it were instead of how it really was. In Griffith's world, the South was glorious and slavery an honorable institution--and this is pounded home in many of his films. The public ate these movies up and people thereby became ignorant of American history. His most famous film, BIRTH OF A NATION, is an amazing film to watch but as a history lesson, it's pure junk--as are many of his lesser films, such as ABRAHAM LINCOLN. Here with MARTYRS OF THE ALAMO, Griffith once again plays very fast and loose with facts. The main one you may notice when the film began is his retelling of the reasons for the Texas rebellion. While it's true that Antonio López de Santa Anna was a horrible leader (they didn't come much stupider--read up on the Pastry War and how the Mexicans lost Texas at San Jacinto to see what I mean), one of the main reasons for the war was than many Texans wanted slavery--while this was expressly forbidden by Mexican law. So at least some of the reason for this war was less than noble and Griffith, not surprisingly, ignores the evils of slavery--something he did is a much grander fashion with BIRTH OF A NATION. As for the Mexicans in the film, they are pretty indistinguishable from the Black people in BIRTH OF A NATION. In other words, many of them are Americans of European stock who were painted up with dark dye to look "Mexicany" and some behaved like jerks and sexual perpetrators! The Black people in the film were also painted like this, though they didn't really do much of anything other than sit back and watch or in an odd twist, help the Texans!

Now if you aren't looking at the film as fact and look at it from a film history point of view, it is an incredible film. For 1915, it is one of the best costume dramas made in America up until this time and Griffith always had a knack for filming spectacular battle sequences. The costumes look much better than you'd see in contemporary films, though I doubt if so many of the Americans wore coonskin caps. The Mexican troops were pretty appropriately dressed and the guns were not repeating rifles like I've actually seen in a couple films set in the 1830s (they weren't invented yet or those few examples that existed were very, very rare and were mostly only test models). The sets weren't bad, though the Alamo in the film looked nothing like the actual building and there were a lot of trees and bushes where there shouldn't have been any.

So overall, the film looked great and was highly entertaining for 1915. While not as patently racist as BIRTH OF A NATION (also 1915), the film is a mess historically, as many of the details of the film were wrong--though this is true in some later films as well.

By the way, you may recognize the man who played Santa Ana. It's Walter Long who starred in several Laurel and Hardy films and he was a rather prolific actor during the 1930s.

I actually found it one YouTube--chopped into pieces and shown in low resolution. Despite these problems, believe it or not, the sound track was excellent and the opening prologue which was recently added was very good--though I have no idea who the guy is who introduces the film. I also just checked and it's also available from NetFlix and if you are a member I suggest you try there first.


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