The story of the famed siege of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution, in which a small band of soldiers held off an overwhelming army under the Mexican general Santa Anna long enough to allow the Texan army to gather its strength. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This made for television version of the legendary stand against hopeless odds is more objective, more realistic than earlier filmed versions of the events, though the one movie made after this went perhaps too far in humanizing the figures of Sam Houston, Bowie, Travis and Crockett.
The focus here is on Jim Bowie, played with sharp, cynical detachment by James Arness who passed away in 2011 at age 88. Then 65, he made a comeback to acting after years away from the screen to do this part.
Puerto Rican-born Raul Julia humanizes Gen. Santa Ana as no one since J. Carol Naish back in '54 had done. However, the Mexican dictator is portrayed as a lecherous, vainglorious popinjay--gaudier uniforms have never been seen before or since. He receives excellent advice from the European officers he has hired but, convinced of his own infallibility, he does not heed it. He also ignores the warning from one of his own staff officers that it is not "prudente" to divide one's army in the face of the enemy. The result is the disaster of San Jacinto.
Alec Baldwin is the one actor whose age is appropriate to the character he plays: Col. William Travis. His portrayal is earnest. He is almost in awe of the older men who share command with him.
The one jarring note was Brian Keith as Crockett. In a coonskin cap and carrying Ol' Betsy, he stumbles about as if he had wandered in from another movie. With no conviction in the portrayal, the character is reduced to a few stage conventions.
The script reveals some historical facts overlooked or suppressed in earlier film versions. We learn that Jim Bowie was, in the person of Santa Ana, fighting his own brother-in-law. The Mexican soldiers performed poorly in part because they were armed with rifles left over from the Napoleonic Wars a generation earlier. "Santa Ana likes a bargain." Bowie wryly explains. The whole project of defending the former Spanish mission as a fort was courageous but militarily ill- advised--a fact explored in greater depth in the 2004 film "The Alamo".
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