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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The ordinary band of numerous and motley characters include to Colonel
Travis (Alec Baldwin) , Davy Crocket (Brian Keith) , Jim Bowie (James
Arness) and his helpless followers vowing to hold the mission fort or
die sacrificing their lives and pending the support from Sam Houston
(Lorne Greene) militia . They are defending the Alamo against the
Mexican army commanded by general Santa Anna (Raul Julia) . An
excellent cast although a regular storyline , however the battle scenes
are terrific .
Big budget television production adapts correctly the historic deeds developed in San Antonio of Bejar, these are the following : In 1836,Austin,Houston and some 57 leaders gathered to sign Texas's Declaration of independence.Then Santa Anna launch a pre-dawn attack.Previously ,as legend has it, Colonel Travis challenged the man of his command who were willing to fight to the last at the Alamo to step across a line he had drawn in the dirt . Only two men ,Lewis Rose, who lived to escape and tell the story and bedridden Jim Bowie didn't cross the line, until Bowie convinced four fellows soldiers to carry him across . To the strains of the Deguello , a battle march indicating that no quarter would be given or no prisoners taken, some 1800 Mexican troopers stormed the mission.They were thrown back by the rifles and cannons of defenders,they rushed again,and were repulsed a second time .Eventually Santa Anna sent another wave of troops who broke the outer defenses and forced the Texans to retreat within the mission ,fighting hand to hand .When the fighting was over,there were no survivors among the defenders.The myth that the garrison fought to the last man however isn't accurate,since evidence indicates that Crockett and several others were captured and possibly tortured,then executed.That they are bravely has never been disputed .William Travis fell near a cannon at the north wall.Jim Bowie,already deathly ill from a sickness that had recently claimed his wife and children ,fought from is sickbed .Just four days later of the Independence,a 13 day siege of the Alamo mission ended when all of its 182 defenders were killed in an attack by some 6000 Mexicans under Santa Anna.When the troops charged the beleaguered mission ,filling the air with the noise of battle and the sound of trumpets ; a few hours later ,all was quiet,every Texas defender was dead.But a new battle cry had been added to the annal of the American history:Remember the Alamo.The legendary defense served as rallying point for the beleaguered Texans.Although Santa Anna lost at least 600 of some 3000 troops against a force of less than 200,referred to the battle as a small affair ,the valor of the defenders gave the surviving troops something to remember and they did six weeks later at San Jacinto where Sam Houston defeated to Santa Anna troops.
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie because there was a genuine sincerity in
acting. The writing was top-notch. James Arness is a great actor and he
showed it here. Brian Keith was too old to be Davy Crockett, and can anyone
really play Davy but Fess Parker?
Another great actor in this move was Raul Julia, who gave depth to Santa Anna, a vain and complex person who led Mexico through turbulent times.
While some may think the movie was slow-paced, it captured the battle as it unfolded, lots of tedium followed by a couple hours of horrific terror.
What impressed me most about this movie is that it made you think about a cause and how some people are willing to die for what they believe in. In this day and age when nobody stands for anything, I found it refreshing to think that there was a time when people died for freedom, no matter how you may feel about the politics of the time.
THE ALAMO: THIRTEEN DAYS TO GLORY, James Arness' variation of his mentor
John Wayne's 1960 classic, attempts to present the famous 1836 Texas siege
in human terms, utilizing the more 'intimate' medium of television to make
the story of the defenders more understandable. Eschewing the 'living
legend' portrayals of the earlier film, a sincere effort is made to make the
famous personalities of the battle more realistic, with both good and bad
qualities, thus making their heroism more personal, and ultimately profound.
While this is certainly an admirable intention (it would also be the motivation behind the 2004 ALAMO), the TV-film fails, and isn't held in high regard by either Alamo historians or fans of the small collection of films concerning that pivotal moment in Texas history.
A major problem is that THIRTEEN DAYS TO GLORY is seriously miscast. Other than the inspired choices of Alec Baldwin as William Barret Travis, and Raul Julia, who nearly steals the film as Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (offering what is probably the most accurate portrayal of the 'Napoleon of the West', ever), virtually every actor is wrong for their role. Arness, at 64, lacks the dynamic, corrupt vitality of the historical Bowie, 40, prior to his physical collapse at the start of the siege (caused, historians now believe, by advanced tuberculosis, or another fatal lung disease). The filmmakers choose, rather, the LAST COMMAND approach to Bowie, injuring him during the battle, instead, and giving him enough energy to cling to a lamp and wall, and to die 'on his feet', his famous knife in his hand. Arness' portrayal is closer in spirit to his outdoorsman 'Zeb Macahan' in the TV "How the West Was Won", than the charismatic swindler/slaver. Even worse is Brian Keith, 66, as 49-year old David ('Davy') Crockett. The frail-looking, silver-haired Keith, while correctly emphasizing Crockett's heritage as a politician, appears acutely uncomfortable in the physically demanding role, and totally lacks the magnetism that made Crockett legendary. As for 68-year old Lorne Greene as 43-year old Sam Houston, the less that is said, the better. In trying to be more 'honest', the film chose acting 'legends', forgetting that performers of legendary status tend to make their characters 'larger-than-life'.
Shot at the '60 ALAMO movie set in Brackettville, Texas, in the 110-degree heat of late summer, the cold dampness of March, 1836 was never achieved. Compounding the problem was a budget that was too small to hire the 'army' of extras required to give lopsided battle some scope. Instead, the production liberally 'lifted' shots from 1955's THE LAST COMMAND, filmed at yet another location (with budget restrictions of it's own), and the differences of the sets, and the film stock, are occasionally jarring.
THE ALAMO: THIRTEEN DAYS TO GLORY, for all of it's ambitions, is, ultimately, no more than a 'B' movie with higher aspirations!
heres a fun fact, I was the baby in the movie, the one in the crib. :) I am 19 years old now. my parents took me to try out for the part, we lived in Texas at the time.I think I only made like 80 bucks for it, but i wasn't in it very long. My parents said i would cry when i was supposed to be happy and would be happy when i was supposed to cry. I was all mixed up. Strange and funny fact i suppose.. and no I am not a child actress. I am livin' in San Antonio, workin' at a walgreens. I graduated here in Texas but I lived in Maryland most my life. This Movie is a great movie, though, good concept. I have seen it several times in my short 19 years.
The best film on the battle of San Antonio, Texas in March 1836, was
John Wayne's 1960 epic THE ALAMO. In a one shot job as director
producer, that temporarily financially strapped him, Wayne demonstrated
that he was talented in movie making outside of his icon-like acting
ability personifying the West.
I have commented on that film in a review the other night, and I pointed out that Wayne and James Edward Grant (the screenwriter) tackled some points that were barely mentioned in earlier films about the battle. They did bring in the issue of slavery. They also finally discussed the contribution of local Mexican land owner Juan Seguin as an important leader in the War for Independence on par with Crockett, Bowie, Travis, Austin, and Houston.
But there was one weakness (though well hidden) in the film. Wayne worked hard to cast it properly, thinking of many people for lead roles in it. But, he did not properly handle the leader of the enemy forces, General Antonio De Santa Anna. The role was played by an obscure actor, Ruben Padilla (on this board, his thread shows only three credits listed). Padilla did not have any spoken dialog (even in Spanish). And while he does have one of the last shots in the film, he just is shown as a silent tyrant, observing the burning of the bodies of the Americans and their allies.
Despite several poor choices in the casting of this television movie (THE ALAMO: THIRTEEN DAYS TO CLORY), it is the best film in showing the man who was (from 1836 to 1854) a leading bogeyman to American policy makers. Raul Julia was a wonderful stage actor. I was fortunate to see him in a production (in the late 1980s) of ARMS AND THE MAN in Manhattan, as Sergius. He was never boring, and usually first rate in his acting.
Here we see the egotistical monster at his worst. Nothing is acceptable that does not fit Santa Anna's wishes or activities. It can be the failure of an orderly in the army to bring some item he requested fast enough, or it can be the temerity of these "foreign brigands" (as he saw the Americans) in not knuckling down to himself, "the Napoleon of the West".
Santa Anna was President of Mexico five or six times between 1830 and 1855. He claimed that he first got involved in overthrowing a President because that President did not live up to the country's constitution, but it was the power that kept him going year after year. It is a sad commentary that he was the leading Mexican historical figure in those two decades. No political figure or military figure would rise to override him until Benito Juarez did in the late 1850s. Initially he claimed great liberal ideals, but he once admitted that the people of Mexico were children who needed guidance for one hundred years before they could rule themselves (and thus he sounds like Gilbert Roland in CRISIS talking about the people he has helped lead against Jose Ferrer). The amazing thing about him was he managed to keep coming back. His policies were disasters. While we know about his attack on Texas (to put down a revolt there), he also tried to expand into Guatamala (and probably saw himself controlling much of Central America). He did win at the Alamo, but at great cost of lives. His massacre of Col. Fannin's men at Goliad was inexcusable (one might make a case for the destruction of the defenders of the Alamo who were fighting to the last, but Fannin had surrendered). Then came the disaster of San Jacinto, where his army was wiped out (he failed to take adequate precautions to watch for the American troops). He was captured, and humiliated, and forced to sign a surrender of Texas. Houston was kind to him: the troops wanted to string him up.
Except for losing a leg in a battle against the French in 1838, he managed not to get wounded in most of his wars. He repudiated the forced surrender of Texas, but could not militarily undue it. Instead, he would lead Mexico into defeat in the war of 1846 - 48 against the Americans, leading to the Mexican Session. The U.S. was "decent" enough to pay Mexico $15,000,000 for the Southwest, but Mexico lost half of it's territory. He would be President for the last time in 1853, in time to give Franklin Pierce's horrendously bad administration it's one moment of glory - Santa Anna sold the border of Arizona and New Mexico (the "Gadsden Purchase") to the U.S. No other Mexican President (not even Porfirio Diaz) ever cost his country so much (Diaz did sell out to foreign business interests, but he built up Mexico's economic muscles doing so). He was exiled in 1855, and settled in Staten Island. There he managed to do his most creative work: he introduced chicle to the U.S., and it became chewing gum. Some achievement!
Julia's Santa Anna is younger than the practiced cynic and schemer who became America's best land purchase agent. He is not going to stand for opposition and he jumps into furious tantrums at a moment's notice. Most of the time his chief aide, Col. Black (David Ogden Stiers, here a British born officer) holds his tongue - he does not wish to be in front of a firing squad as he could be. But Stiers is secretly less than enchanted by his boss. At the end, when alone with the newly widowed wives of the dead Alamo defenders, Stiers suggests that they tell the world what Santa Anna is really like. And they did!
O.K.,so this retelling of the alamo story may not boast the biggest budget,the most visible actors,and may be a bit on the long side BUT it is a decent flick that makes an effort to present a reasonable retelling of the actual alamo saga...in the film which john wyane put out in the'60s the unrealisticl super-patriotism seemed to get in the way of the story,reducing it almost to a parody of actual events...don't get me wrong here,I did enjoy that flick,but the rather stilted dialouge and the "Hollywood"production values seemed to make the whole enterprise(excluding the final,climactic & well photographed battle scenes)seem a tad two-dimensional..."13 Days to Glory"used a lot of B-level and unknown players,presented a more realistic storyline,and,contrary to what some may think,did well combining battle footage from a previous production with footage shot specificly for this film...I have heard that the new alamo flick,set to be released in April,will present an even more realistic portrait of the defenders and the mexican army,warts and all...this,to some degree,was what"13 days to Glory"attempted,and if they did not bring forth a masterpiece they at least managed to give us a good flick...not great maybe,but a good flick
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
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".
While being a great James Arness western, this film has gone down as the worst Alamo film ever made. The story was terrible, inaccuracy all through it, and just downright untruths to boot! Continuity was cast to the four winds. Anybody catch the cannon sequence? The Mexicans were dumb enough to fire cannons that obviously had mud and ramrods still sticking out of the tubes. Come on! Then there is Brian Keith's ridiculous hat! Costumer must of been away or something. Or just out of their mind!
Burt Kennedy used to be a very good director, but you'd never know it by this lumbering mess. Not only does this film look cheap, it IS cheap--most of the battle scenes are lifted from the far superior "The Last Command" from 1955, and that footage, shot 32 years previously, looks more contemporary than anything in this picture. The few action scenes that were actually shot for this movie are disorganized, confused and incompetent, looking just as shoddy as the rest of the picture. This has the look and feel of a bad student film (and the budget didn't seem to be a whole lot more). It moves like molasses, the acting for the most part is either over-the-top ham or under-the-top comatose--although Raul Julia comes off better than most of the rest of the cast--and it's chock full of annoying historical inaccuracies. On top of that, it's WAY too long. If you're going to make a boring film, do it in an hour or so and get it over with--don't stretch it out over three hours, like this one does. If you want to see a good movie about the Alamo, check out John Wayne's 1960 version, or even the 1955 film from which this movie stole its action scenes. Hard to believe it took six producers to make a movie this lousy. Skip it.
When John Wayne filmed his Alamo story he had built a complete Alamo
set in the town of Brackettsville, Texas which is still there and quite
the tourist attraction. As long as that stands, we will have a set for
future Alamo interpretations for the screen. One such with Dennis Quaid
and Billy Bob Thornton was done in this century.
But I would say The Alamo: Thirteen Days To Glory is the best Alamo story filmed I've seen. John Wayne's film is a good one if over-hyped, but it's a John Wayne film with the story redone to fill parameters of screen character of John Wayne. Brian Keith plays Davy Crockett here and gives a fine interpretation of the rollicking frontier character he was.
It's a lot closer to Professor Lon Tinkle's book on The Alamo than the Wayne film was and having read the book years ago I can attest to that. Tinkle's book is listed as the source in both films, but Tinkle who was alive back then when the Wayne film was done and he was not pleased with the result.
Alec Baldwin was around the right age for young William Barrett Travis, the idealistic freedom fighter who incidentally was a slave owner. Back in the day no one saw the ironic contradiction in that. One thing that was not explored and hasn't been was Travis's hyperactive sex drive. He was the Casanova of the Southwest, he even kept a salacious diary of his libidinal conquests.
But the man who always gets the whitewash is Jim Bowie, played here by James Arness. He was a hero at the Alamo to be sure, but his career before the Alamo was that of a scoundrel. He was a smuggler, a slave trader, an all around con man selling land he had questionable title to. But his heroic death certainly redeemed him. No hint of that is in Arness's portrayal nor any others I've seen of Bowie on the screen. And of course he did design the Bowie knife, done to his specifications. That man needed such a weapon.
However the main asset that The Alamo: Thirteen Days To Glory has is a full blown portrayal of Antonio De Lopez De Santa Anna, the president of Mexico who comes up personally to put down the rebellion stirred up by the North Americans who've come to settle in Texas at Mexican invitation. Unfortunately those Americans came with some pre-conceived notions about liberty that just hadn't made it that far south, at least liberty for white people. Raul Julia plays Santa Anna who remains an even more controversial figure in Mexican history. He was also quite the scoundrel, but he was the best Mexico produced until a genuine reformer named Benito Juarez came along.
This film was the farewell performance of Lorne Greene who appears briefly as General Sam Houston. Greene's not quite my conception of Houston, he really was way too old for the part, Houston was in his early forties in 1836, he was not yet the patriarch of Texas. But within the limits imposed on him, Greene does a fine job.
For a romantic telling of The Alamo tale by all means see John Wayne's version, but for historical content I recommend this film highly.
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