Thursday, March 6, 2014

Flick Pick: The Alamo

The Alamo
(United Artists, 1960)

More recent attempts at revisionist filmmaking about this event are best left unmentioned.
This was the most personal project for producer/director/writer John Wayne, who hadn't intended to star in it, but was forced to in order to secure financing. A screen epic and Academy Award-winner (Best Sound), most efforts to downgrade it, then and now, rest on distaste for Wayne's politics, rather than any failings of the film itself. The final battle scene is suitably grand. The sets were meticulously built to recreate a 3/4-sized version of the historical site brick by adobe brick, and the film accurately represents actual events in the larger scope, while taking a bare few cinematic liberties with individual characters. Not least of these is that 189 Texans did in fact resist 13 days of siege and fight off two attack waves before being defeated and slaughtered in detail by the third wave, of some 2000 soldiers under General Santa Anna, 178 years ago today. John Wayne is John Wayne, and Laurence Harvey is excellent as Travis. In one memorable scene turning down the order to surrender, he forgot that cannons recoil, and it rolled over his foot, fracturing it. He held back any reaction until after Wayne yelled "Cut!", demonstrating Harvey was just as hard and disciplined in real life as an actor as the man he was portraying.

1 comment:

Retired Spook said...

If not my favorite John Wayne movie, it's in the Top Two. Like True Grit, the remake will forever be a waste of time and effort!