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In 1836 General Santa Anna and the Mexican army is sweeping across Texas. To be able to stop him, General Sam Houston needs time to get his main force into shape. To buy that time he orders Colonel William Travis to defend a small mission on the Mexicans' route at all costs. Travis' small troop is swelled by groups accompanying Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett, but as the situation becomes ever more desperate Travis makes it clear there will be no shame if they leave while they can. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
If You Really Want to Know John Wayne, See This Legacy
Corny? At times long-winded and stilted? Touching, poignant and inspiring? John Wayne's "The Alamo" is all of these things; and, of this, I'm certain John Wayne would agree. For, unlike the lessor men who make up most of Wayne's critics, Wayne was fair. This is clear even in "The Alamo," in his depiction of Santana's army. Wayne believed in the basic nobility of men, much like those heroes depicted in "Rio Bravo". That his life and memory is treated more like that of Marshal Sam Kane's in the Wayne-despised "High Noon," or even in Wayne's own "The Shootist" is testimony that Wayne HOPED men were better than they are.
I'd never seen the full-length version of "The Alamo" until it was released on VHS in the early 90s. I realized then the greatest scene in the movie is "The Birthday Party," which was cut from the general release version of the film. NOTE: For those that don't remember, during the 50s and 60s, Hollywood would release long, big budget movies as reserved seat attractions. The film would show at a "roadshow" theater for several months before general release. Since "roadshow" theaters showed the movies only twice a day, running time was restricted pretty much to the patience of audiences. However, when the same film was shown general release, time restrictions became important, so films were cut to maximize theater owner profits. It still happens today, except now the "director's cut" reaches the home audience via DVD. In any event, the short version of "The Alamo," while impressive, is still a pale shadow of the Wayne's original cut. Most importantly, to see "The Alamo" is to understand John Wayne as a man, not an idol or actor. Wayne generously gave virtually all the big scenes to his costars. Certainly, Lawrence Harvey, Richard Widmark, Ken Curtis, Joan O'Brian and Richard Boone get better scenes. Also certainly, Chill Wills, Jester Hairston (Jethro) Hank Worden (Parson) and Veda Ann Borg (Blind Nell Robertson) have showier ones than Wayne. The scenes between Wayne and Linda Crystal in the first hour seem out of a different movie, though neither Wayne's nor Cristals are as big or showy as the ones I've mentioned. One thing I hope to suffer again was the "reunion" video attached to the VHS. The same old garbage about Wayne not being able to direct actors (by his SON, no less), that he really wasn't a very good director (Wayne's action scenes will match or beat anybody's in Hollywood). Especially rude was Richard Widmark's idea of impressing Wayne by insisting Wayne call him "Richard" and not "Dick" during their first meeting. Widmark came across as a pompous ass. However, the rudest cut was from Ken "Festis" Curtis. Curtis never had a better, more respectful part in ANY movie, but he didn't miss an opportunity to try to soil Wayne's memory.
Forget that "The Alamo" is a topnotch, if not entirely historically accurate historical western. Forget that Wayne directs action better than his mentor, John Ford, or that Chill Wills got an Oscar nomination, the only of his career, thanks to this "lousy director/actor". Remember this, Wayne risked EVERYTHING on "The Alamo" and lost. He was broke for years afterward. Wayne's continued success on the "A" list was by no means assured. He was 54 years old and raising a second family. Wayne had recently been swindled by a business manager and recently lost a best friend to suicide (Grant Withers). Wayne had to take a role in "The Alamo" to secure financing, and "The Alamo" is probably STILL the biggest movie ever directed by one of its stars. During filming, Wayne had to contend with interference from mentor John Ford and a murder investigation of one of his actresses. That same year Wayne's house was severely damaged by fire. Yet Wayne took continued carping by lessor men, those "artists" in Hollywood who ridiculed his acting and his directing. I'm sure they sneered in satisfaction when "The Alamo" failed to break even. However, it's reported the movie eventually made a small profit, probably part of it through sale of "Alamo Village" in Bracketville, Texas.
Wayne continued to make fine movies for sixteen more years after "The Alamo." In 1969 he was finally awarded by his peers an Oscar for "Rooster Cogburn." However, by then, Wayne had P.O.d them again with "The Green Berets". War service or not, NOBODY can say the man ever ran from a fight.
I'm not sure I would have liked John Wayne had I known him. I'm not a drinker and I'm not obsessively patriotic about this country, particularly since we started picking fights in the Middle East. However, as Wayne proved with Lawrence Harvey and Rock Hudson, Wayne didn't have to agree with someone's lifestyle or even their personal views to treat them with respect. I most certainly would respect him better than the "friends" he gave jobs in "The Alamo;" at least, those who slandered him.
Oh, and by the way, "RICHARD Widmark never won an Oscar."
I give "The Alamo" a solid 8.
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