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 <email@example.com>
First off, I must confess that I am an Alamo junky. So my review might be a bit skewed. I've seen most films dealing with the Alamo or the Texas revolution (The Alamo (1960), The Alamo (2004), The Last Command, Gone to Texas, Heroes of the Alamo (930 B.C.), Davy Crockett at the Alamo, Texas, etc.) I just watched this one all the way through today for the first time since I was about ten.
I think this adaptation, despite it's flaws, probably ranks in the top three Alamo films. Strictly from a film perspective, it certainly has problems. The lack of budget makes for a handful of extras playing both armies. The Mexican army, which is suppose to number in the thousands, looks to consist of little more than ten soldiers the majority of the time. The battle scenes are laughable for the most part. Most of the footage, as has been noted many times, is lifted from the Last Command. The rest of the scenes feature rubber bayonets and men appearing to wrestle, rather than fight for their lives, in the background.
That said, I think with some money behind it, this could have been a great film. While every review I have read seems to praise the actor who played Santa Anna, Raul Julia I believe was his name, I find his constant yelling to be a bit over the top. I actually thought Brian Keith was a wonderful Davy Crockett. His down home yarns and backwoods twang comes across as entirely genuine. Also, note his expression as he swings his hunting knife just before his death. It is such a convincing portrayal of a last stand by a man. It is a pity that he is about thirty years to old to play Crockett. My hat goes off to him nonetheless. The same can be said for James Arness. His massive build and piercing eyes gives him that sort of John Wayne screen presence, to a far lesser degree of course. Again, a bit too old for the role. Alec Baldwin actually makes for a very convincing Travis. He is much closer in age and does a brilliant job. Highlights would be his last speech to the men as well as his conversation with James Bonham before hand.
I also thought the screenplay was very good. Minus some of the exchange between Daniel Cloud and his Mexican love interest. Although, it is more the acting and less the writing that hurts those scenes. The script moves the story along at a steady pace and is concerned more with telling the story and less with giving a history lesson, a flaw that haunts many Alamo films and period pieces in general.
Overall, I think this is a good "Alamo" film. It is probably not a good "film" film. That is to say unless you like the Alamo, you may not enjoy this movie. As made for t.v. movies go, especially in the eighties, it is not that bad. You have two great icons in Keith and Arness playing lead roles, as well as the upstart Alec Baldwin. Not a bad cast at all for a low budget film. Burt Kennedy does a good job of directing considered what he is given. As an "Alamo" film, I would probably rate this as a 7 or 8 out of 10. But as a "film" film goes it gets about a 5 out of 10. With a bigger budget and a younger Brian Keith and James Arness, this could have been a great film. It might have won Oscars in the Golden Age of Hollywood!
1 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?