In 1836, as tyrannical Mexican General Santa Anna was sweeping across Northern Mexico, and
Texas was a Mexican territory fighting to become a republic free of 'foreigners', The
Alamo became a key garrison in a battle that became a legend. Less than 200 men, lead by a
composite of professional soldier William Travis (Laurence Harvey), ex-congressman and
man-of-the-people, Davy Crockett (John Wayne), and the frontiersman Jim Bowie (Richard
Widmark). Bowie had a guerilla plan which Travis, the official commanding officer, refused
to contemplate, fueling the bitter personal rivalry between the two. The volunteers (under
Bowie), the folks from Tennessee (under Crockett) and the handful of soldiers (under
Travis) all pinned their hopes on reinforcements - which never came. But when it came to
it, the men chose to stay and fight, knowing the odds didn't give them a chance.
"Transferred in widescreen format and using the original Director's Cut, this is a
giant of a film - even on video. The personality clash between Bowie and Travis,
highlighted at the start of the film when Bowie is drunk, contrasting with Travis'
snobbish officer-and-a-gentleman figure, is one of the key dramatic threads in this film.
It underscores the film's human scale, and provides for the gritty poignancy of the
resolute defiance that unites the 185 men in their heroic stand against Santa Anna.
Indeed, the interplay between the three leaders provides much of the dramatic structure of
the screenplay, a complex and well-wrought work which balances the men and the mission,
the intimate and the grand. Wayne's passion for this story (imagine Phil Noyce making a
film of The Eureka Stockade, say) is channeled into a big film with big themes and long on
compassion. The first hour is a tour of the human territory, with an engaging rhythm and a
pace that keeps us tuned. We become interested in the characters and they are the tellers
of the story. The weight of the subject matter lifts the film above the level of a western
or an action film; we're not chasing cheap gangsters or drug dealers, and the values at
stake are those we here in Australia can only imagine: when Crockett talks about his love
for the word Republic, the alternative is not a Queen in a foreign country, but political
oppression. There are numerous terrific scenes, some full of danger, some of humour, some
with both. And the first battle begins 2 1/2 hours into the 3 hr 15 minute film; the
final, ferocious and fatal battle begins three hours from the start - so it's not a war
movie. Above all, The Alamo is an engaging and spectacular tribute to the power of
filmmaking - both as socio-historic document and as a flashlight into the hearts of its
Andrew L. Urban
James Bowie was 41, Davy Crockett was 50, William Travis was 26.
March 6,1836...6:30a.m ... the last shots were fired. The Alamo had
After a 13 days siege by 2,000 Mexicans, 189 men (from Texas and
Tennesse, had offered their lives for the freedom of Texas.
At the end of the Battle of Alamo, General Santa Anna's loss was
estimated at 600 men.
The Alamo was followed by the Goliad massacre (perpetrated by order of
General Santa Anna), forty-six days later, on April 21, 1836 at the Battle of San Jacinto,
where 783 men led by General Sam Houston defeated 1,500 Mexicans.
The battle lasted only eighteen minutes.
When it was all over, 630 men of the Mexican army were dead; 730 were
Nine Texans lost their lives.
General Santa Anna, disguised as a peasant, was captured the following
The independence of Texas had been won from the tyrannical Santa Anna of
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THE ALAMO (G)
CAST: John Wayne, Richard Widmark, Laurence Harvey, Chill Wills, Frankie Avalon,
Patrick Wayne, Linda Cristal, Carlos Arruza, Jester Hairston, Joseph Calleia, Richard
Boone, Ken Curtis, Denver Pyle
DIRECTOR: John Wayne
PRODUCER: John Wayne
SCRIPT: James Edward Grant
CINEMATOGRAPHER: William H. Clothier
EDITOR: Stuart Gilmore
MUSIC: Dimitri Tiomkin
RUNNING TIME: 195 mins
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video
VIDEO RELEASE: October 1999
THE MOVIE ALAMO
John Wayne spent US$1.5 million (ten times that in today's dollars) building an exact
replica of The Alamo from the blueprints, in his determination to be historically
accurate. It is built close to the site of the actual battle and is a tourist attraction.