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 The Alamo (1960/ John Wayne)

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korano
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PostSubject: The Alamo (1960/ John Wayne)   Tue Jun 08, 2010 11:56 pm

*Director: John Wayne
*Music: Dimitri Tiomkin
*Cast: John Wayne, Richard Widmark, Laurence Harvey, Frankie Avalon, Linda Cristal, Chill Wills, Richard Boone, Pat Wayne


Conceived in the 1940's, this film was meant by Wayne to be the ultimate statement on the beliefs he himself held dear. Courage in the face of tyranny, patriotism, free speech, and masculinity. And though it was (and is) critically panned and failed to make back it's huge cost, I find the Alamo to be a fun, well made, action packed, yet historically infuriating Western epic.


We all know the story; a few hundred Texicans are holed up in an old Spanish mission, defending not only their land but their beliefs in the face of an army of thousands of well trained soldiers while General Sam Houston raises an army to combat the invaders. But time is quickly running out.


Wayne had always been interested in the story of the Alamo. Apparently, the idea for the film was conceived way back in the 40's during the height of Wayne's growing fame. Eventually, Wayne and his production company, Batjac, were in negotiations with Republic to make the picture. But they backed out and made their own Alamo movie, The Last Command. But Wayne, not deterred, decided to still continue with his film. Wayne had been scouting for locations in places as exotic as Panama and South America. He had been considering shooting in Mexico when his rich Texan backers warned him to shoot in Texas or they wouldn't fund him. So they settled on Bracketville in South Texas. Production went smoothly enough for some. Though Wayne was extremely nervous though still intensely passionate about the film. Reportedly smoking in the area of 100 cigarettes per day! John Ford showed up on location and apparently subconsciously usurped directorial control from Wayne before being given a useless second unit.


And this complicated yet passionate production paid off, as The Alamo is a amazing looking film. Made with the same obsessive intensity as was Duel in the Sun, the film is very large scale. The thousands of soldiers marching and charging is very impressive. And the sets are all carefully built. Costume design is equally top notch. finally, the action is equally epic with large scale battle sequences as opposed to small scale shootouts seen in most westerns. But these additions cannot hide the film's numerous faults. The script has criticized, even by Wayne himself, as being too long winded and most of the characters tend to wander into ridiculous speeches about patriotism and such. Also, the structure is rather uneven. The first hour introduces the characters while the second half focuses on the Alamo. For me, this left the focus a little unclear. Is it more about the characters or the actual battle? In the end, it's the characters but the long intros are unjustified as these are normal heroes. The inaccuracy can be pretty ridiculous. In real life, the final assault on the fort took place at night. Here, it is the day. Also, Jim Bowie's illness is completely forgotten. These are only a few of the examples.


When the film was released, it failed to make the impact Wayne had hoped for. Though it made a lot of money at the box office, it didn't turn a profit as it was such an expensive film to make. The aggressive ad campaign didn't help either. Reviews were quite harsh with some calling it the biggest B picture ever made. But the film did receive 7 Oscar nominations including Best Picture. But, it failed to win anything except best sound. Today, the film is dismissively called Republican propaganda (which it kind of is) but that still didn't stop me from liking the film.


Wayne received a lot of praise for his direction. Particularly of the battle scenes. In reality, this praise should go to Cliff Lyons who was the stunt coordinator and second unit director responsible for directing the action sequences. Most people in the film claim that Wayne was not a very inspirational director who had trouble articulating his thoughts. As a result, most of the performances come out looking like cheap john Wayne impersonations. That said, their are some great performances. Wayne himself originally wanted the cameo role of Sam Houston but the studios demanded Wayne star which meant more money. Houston went to Richard Boone. Wayne plays the same role he's played thousands of times. But in his defense, he's very good at it. Laurence Harvey and Richard Widmark turn in the best performances as the ever quarreling commanders of the Alamo. Harvey as the strict and cold, yet cultured William Travis. Widmark as the maverick Jim Bowie. Chill Wills received his only Oscar nomination for his role as the comic relief, Beekeeper.


I liked Dimitri Tiomkin's score. Heavily influenced by spanish music with flaminco guitars and such. The song Green Leaves of Summer was later reused in as the opening tune to Quentin Tarantino WWII flick, Inglourious Basterds. This score/song was alos nominated for an Academy Award.


Though the only widely circulating print is a cut 2 hour 40 minute DVD, apparently, there is a 3 hour VHS around which is suposed to be better. Which ever version you get, I'd recommend you give it a try.
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PostSubject: Re: The Alamo (1960/ John Wayne)   Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:32 am

How come there are two threads for the same thing?
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PostSubject: Re: The Alamo (1960/ John Wayne)   Thu Jun 10, 2010 9:00 pm

My mistake, tried cancelling when I pressed send but it had already posted the thread. Vassilli, could you remove one?
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PostSubject: Re: The Alamo (1960/ John Wayne)   Thu Jun 10, 2010 10:42 pm

Sorry I haven't found the right button yet! I'll try to find it!
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PostSubject: Re: The Alamo (1960/ John Wayne)   Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:12 pm

no need to appologize to me. Your the boss. Wink

I'll probably post a new review today or tomorrow and i'll make sure this wont happen.
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PostSubject: Re: The Alamo (1960/ John Wayne)   Mon Jun 14, 2010 10:00 pm

Ok cool! Found the button by the way Wink .
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PostSubject: Re: The Alamo (1960/ John Wayne)   Wed Jun 23, 2010 6:09 am

Any body can tell me where i can watch these type of old movies ,for watching new release movies i use http://10starmovies.com/
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PostSubject: Re: The Alamo (1960/ John Wayne)   Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:23 am

classiccinemaonline.com
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PostSubject: Re: The Alamo (1960/ John Wayne)   Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:58 pm

The Internet Archive ( http://www.archive.org/ )also has quite a few Westerns.
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PostSubject: Re: The Alamo (1960/ John Wayne)   Mon Jun 28, 2010 9:06 am

the alamo is a great film.john wayne did a great job directing the alamo especially with all the pressure in was under.
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