The legendary true story of a small band of soldiers who sacrificed their lives in hopeless combat against a massive army in order to prevent a tyrant from smashing the new Republic of Texas.
For what seems like 13 hours the film misses classic genre status.
For 13 days these brave men hold the fort...
The Alamo is not the film it should be, even after the 2004 remake (a great film that takes a reflective and thoughtful stance) we find ourselves still waiting for a blood pumping and stirring take on the folklore tale of what happened at the small missionary known as The Alamo. It's San Antonio, 1836 and General Santa Anna is marching his mighty armies into the contested territory of Texas, all that stands in his way is a small band of heroes, Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett and their trusty men who are led by the inexperienced William Travis. They must buy time in order for General Sam Houston to get an army together in which to crush Santa Anna's imposing forces.
There really is no simpler way of putting it other than to say that The Alamo is an overlong misfire. Various cuts have been made to try and create an epic classic out of what was actually filmed, but neither of the cuts can succeed in making it the flowing genre piece it could have been. John Wayne directs and clearly cared about the project (with his own cash invested that was to be expected), but rumours have persisted that Cliff Lyons had to take up directing duties later in the picture, it's not hard to see why if that was the case, but various sources do poo poo this rumour, and is mostly believed to be Wayne's own work throughout the film. Wayne (having learnt from his mentor John Ford) had a great vision for the picture, and the scope is rather impressive, the recreation of The Alamo building in particular is first rate, whilst the formations of Santa Anna's armies finally rouse the picture out of its slumber.
However, the high points in the picture are few and far between, the acting leaves a lot to be desired, with Wayne himself unable to let the Crockett character be anything other than the John Wayne show. Richard Widmark as Jim Bowie steadily holds his own and manages to eek out a bit of bravado interplay with Wayne and Laurence Harvey (William Travers), but outside of that there is not much to write home about. The final third just about saves the film from being a stinker, with the Academy Award for best sound richly deserved, but sadly The Alamo remains to this day a plodding dinosaur that bores when it really should be igniting the spirit. 5/10
United Artists, Batjac Productions, The Alamo Company by John Wayne, James Edward Grant.
Stars: John Wayne, Richard Widmark, Laurence Harvey, Frankie Avalon.
Genres: Adventure, Drama, History, War, Western
Keywords: texas assault alamo mexican mexican army
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