The Alamo Reviews

Page 1 of 14
Super Reviewer
½ March 23, 2008
A good rendering of the story that is hampered by overlength. Richard Widmark gives the film's best performance.
Super Reviewer
December 31, 2009
A greatly historically flawed and slightly too long and tad bit boring depiction of one of the most well known events in Mexican and Texas history that, despite all it's problems, is still passable Hollywood entertainment. The acting is not bad, and the battle scenes are well done, but for me, where the movie shines is in the music and cinematography departments.
Super Reviewer
½ January 10, 2009
Viewed as history, John Wayne's epic production of 'The Alamo' is as full of holes as Swiss Cheese (the final battle actually lasted less than an hour, in the pre-dawn darkness of March 6, 1836; current scholarly consensus is that the historical Crockett attempted to surrender, at the end of the furious onslaught, but was executed), but just as Wayne mentor John Ford never let 'the facts' interfere with a good story, first-time director Wayne wanted to tell a tale of larger-than-life heroes, taking a stand for what was right, and being willing to die for that cause. It was a firm belief in these truths that pushed Wayne into investing over ten years of his life, and much of his personal fortune, in telling this story, and 'The Alamo' was, and is, a triumph.

The film can really be broken into two distinct parts; the first part introduces the characters, providing insights into their personalities, and tells a melodramatic tale of a beautiful woman (the radiant Linda Cristal), being forced into an unwilling relationship with an evil, profiteering Texan, who is rescued by the plain-spoken and heroic Davy Crockett, as portrayed by Wayne. The story bears similarities to 'The Fighting Kentuckian', a Wayne vehicle of twelve years earlier. In this version, however, Wayne doesn't 'win' the girl, but gives her a rather preachy speech about patriotism, and doing what's right, and sends her on her way.

Despite a terrific fight scene between a bunch of the Texan's henchmen, and Crockett and Jim Bowie (portrayed with easy charm by Richard Widmark), this first part drags, a bit, and seems contrived to allow Wayne to air his political beliefs. Bear with it, though, because when the action moves to the mission/fortress of the Alamo, for the second half of the film, Wayne's talents as a director truly shine.

The story of the 13-day siege between the Alamo's 187 defenders, and General Santa Anna's 6,000-man army, has NEVER been told on a grander scale than in the John Wayne version, and the uncut edition of the film is presented in a wide-screen format, which allows the viewer to really share Wayne's vision. With a nod to the fact that the Mexico of today is a staunch ally (several characters make a point of saying how 'proud' they are of the Mexicans, even as the two forces are killing each other!), the story flows between exciting 'victories' (stealing the cattle, spiking the Mexican cannons), and an understanding of the inevitable conclusion (defined by Lawrence Harvey, as Travis, in the memorable 'sword in the sand' scene). Harvey's Travis is the best-realized of the film's many characters; he brings a humanity to the complex, driven commander, growing from someone insensitive to others, into a leader who earns everyone's respect.

Wayne used thousands of Mexicans as extras in the film, which gives the viewer a far greater sense of the magnitude of the siege than Republic's 'The Last Command' or Disney's 'Davy Crockett' ever could. The battles, particularly the final one, as row after row of Mexican foot-soldiers overrun the pockets of defenders, are unforgettable! Each character is allowed to die heroically, and is given a lingering moment to make a final gesture (Travis breaks his sword over his knee as Mexicans surge past, Bowie fires his unique gun, a brace of pistols, and swings his famous knife, Crockett, bayoneted to a door, still manages to pull free, and torch the magazine). The film's climax, alone, would make the film a 'must' for any action fan.

The cast includes many well-known character actors and long-time Wayne friends, including Ken Curtis as Lt. Dickinson, Travis's adjutant; Chill Wills as the most outspoken of Crockett's men; Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams, Denver Pyle, Chuck Roberson, and many others, as defenders. Wayne's son, Patrick, has a small but visible role as James Butler Bonham, the famous Alamo dispatch rider, and his daughter Aissa plays the Dickinson's child, Angelina.

'The Alamo', for all it's faults, is a magnificent spectacle, monumental in scope. It is a fitting tribute to it's star/director, and an ESSENTIAL part of any John Wayne collection!
Super Reviewer
½ September 13, 2006
Interest American history in battle and I like John Wayne's movies.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ March 23, 2013
Shoot, this film is over two-and-a-half hours long, so I for one hope that I remember the Alamo, or else I wasted quite a bit of money-I mean, time. Plenty of people may remember the Alamo, but they've apparently been having some trouble trying to remember to actually go to these films about it, because at $12 million of John Wayney goodness, this film still didn't make its budget back. Well, at least it's not as big of a bomb as its 2004 counterpart, which was also, on paper, pretty high profile, which leads me to believe that there might be some kind of a conspiracy going on here. I can see the Mexican community actively avoiding these films like the plague as part of a protest against America for taking Texas. Yup, and if you think that's racist, well, just wait until you see this film... on the off chance you actually remember to see it, that is. Man, I tell you what, as a descendent of a Texas Revolution veteran, I genuinely do wish that these films on the Alamo were more recognized, or at least I would wish that if it wasn't for the fact that these films really aren't all that strong and memorable. That being said, this film is... better than it's 2004 counterpart, I guess, and that's just good enough for it to be decent, and yet, with that said, the fact of the matter is that this film still isn't quite what it could have been, and for a number of reasons.

I wasn't exactly going into this 1960 John Wayne film expecting all that much subtlety, yet there are still plenty of points in this film that are perhaps fluffier than they probably should, because even though the film isn't consistently corny, it still turns in plenty of improvable, if not simply cheesily heavy-handed dialogue points, as well as a narrative that goes plagued by much of that distinct 1960s melodrama that slows down the momentum of storytelling, much like, of all things, plot structuring that is anything but slow. At nearly 170 minutes, or, in the case of the director's cut that few people want to see, at the very least, because it's only available on VHS, this film has plenty of room to tighten things up, and it often does, and yet, there are still points that feel a bit too hurried, maybe not to where storytelling adopts a kind of slam-bang feel, but decidedly to where exposition takes some hits. There's enough meat to this meal for things to feel adequately well-cooked (Great, now I'm hungry), yet subtlety issues and the occasional hurried spot thin out the final product's flesh a touch, while slow spots - of which there are more than I had anticipated - further blands things up too much for your investment to stand all that firm. I went into this film expecting, at the very least, plenty of entertainment value, and sure enough, I did find the fun factor within this effort to be reasonably juicy, though hardly as rich as I was hoping it would be, because as entertaining as this film is, it's not without its bland spots, and quite a few of them, never to where dullness sinks its teeth all that deeply into things, but much too often to where storytelling is left dragging its feet as hardly all that engaging. I'm not asking that this film be consistently thrilling, or even consistently fun, but this film faces too many relatively bland spells, and has plenty of time to, because even though something of a hefty length is recommended when it comes to a story concept like this, padding is rather surprisingly much too plentiful within this product, whose excessive filler in plotting shakes consistency in focus, while simple fat around the edges that has little in the way of necessary storytelling value leaves things to feel a bit too repetitious. The pacing issues within this film stand to be more severe, but the fact of the matter is that they do, in fact, stand, and just firm enough to give you the opportunity to meditate upon what might be the final product's biggest issue: overambition, something that is understandable, given the potential within this project, but ultimately too palpable for this execution of promising concepts to feel all that assured or stable enough to obscure a wealth of other issues, thus making for a surprisingly and unfortunately underwhelming epic. Still, no matter how messy this overambitious opus may be, at the end of the day it feels like it takes to watch this film, you'd be hard pressed to not be reasonably entertained by what is done right in John Wayne's telling of a worthy tale, or at least impressed by some fairly strong musical aspects.

A classic score composer for plenty of Hollywood westerns and epics, Dimitri Tiomkin held a resume that was full of titles that were known for their strong, if a bit conventional scores, with this film boasting yet another Tiokin score that is not exactly too refreshing, even for its time, but nevertheless generally quite strong, with a distinctly old Hollywood sweep and soul that breathes much liveliness into things, and is sometimes broken up by artistic touches by Tiomkin that are, in fact, relatively unique. Tiokin's consistently commendable musical tastes play a reasonably notable role in the defining of this film's liveliness and tone, though certainly not as much as William H. Clothier's photographic tastes play a role in defining the sweep of this epic, being not too terribly outstanding, largely due to the limitations of the time, but still with enough broadness to scope play to capture the immensity of this film's distinguished and dynamic environment, as well as enough crispness in coloring and lighting to catch your eyes about as much as a film of this type and time could. Visually, this film may very well have been a technical marvel for its time, and even to this day, Clothier's cinematographic tastes are strikingly worthwhile, particularly when put to fine use in the heat of combat, where the grandness of Clothier's scope gives you a very well-rounded view into the broad-scale warfare that this film has enough strong technical and production value to dramatize thrillingly. Certainly, this film's action sequences aren't exactly superb by today's standards, but the sweep and technical competence behind the battle scenes within this war epic are rich enough to keep you quite entertained, if no just plain gripped when the heat of warfare comes to a head and livens up the kick to this film's substance, which recieves further juice from plenty of charm within this cast of classic charismas. Don't get me wrong, this film's era didn't exactly hold too high of a standard for acting, and sure enough, traditional acting is simply decent at its very best in this film, and is generally kind of mediocre, if not fairly weak, when it comes to charisma, you'll find much difficulty in ignoring the star power that most everyone radiates enough of to sustain your attention and, to a certain degree, investment within characterization, however thin it may be. I wish I could say that this film was sharper in its bringing this worthy story concept to life through plenty of commendable storytelling strengths, but there is just enough inspiration in the compliments to substance for you to get a reasonable grip on the value within this subject matter, not to where the film comes close to truly rewarding as much as it probably should, but decidedly to where you'll find yourself reasonably willing to stick with this faulty epic, wondering just what it is to happen next. At the very least, John Wayne's direction graces this film with entertainment value, something that is still too thin for the final product's own good, but generally rich enough for the final product to sustain your attention more often than not and leave you having a reasonably fun time, no matter how much it leaves quite a bit to be desired.

When the battle dies down, you're likely to be left feeling rather underwhelmed, thanks to the cheesily unsubtle spots, hurried, or at least underdeveloped spots, slow spots and, of course, repetitious bloating that slowly, but surely, eat away at the full impact of this should-be rewarding effort, until the final product is left standing as quite improvable, though not so much so that you can't appreciate the strong score work, fine cinematography, grand action, charming cast and reasonable entertainment value that color up a worthy story that is done just enough justice for John Wayne's "The Alamo" to ultimately carry on as a decent epic that does a fair job of keeping you going, even though it stands to compel more.

2.5/5 - Fair
Super Reviewer
May 15, 2011
A very solid directorial effort for Wayne (who also stars in it), his Alamo is considerably better in many respects than the 2004 remake. A great cast, with an especially strong script, one that does the story justice. Greatest quote comes from Wayne in the film as Davy Crockett:
"Republic. I like the sound of the word. Means that people can live free, talk free, go or come, buy or sell, be drunk or sober, however they choose. Some words give you a feeling. Republic is one of those words that makes me tight in the throat."
Super Reviewer
June 27, 2007
John Wayne obviously set the tone for later star vehicles by directing this overlong epic. Do you think that the Duke would ever make himself look bad in his own film? Do you think he wouldn't give himself an inordinate amount of screen time?
Super Reviewer
October 29, 2011
Historical epic directed by John Wayne, who also starred as Davy Crockett. The cast also includes Richard Widmark as Jim Bowie and Laurence Harvey as William B. Travis,.The subject is the 1836 Battle of the Alamo.The film does little to explain the causes of the Texas Revolution or why the battle took place.Alamo historian Timothy Todish said "there is not a single scene in The Alamo which corresponds to a historically verifiable incident". Historians J. Frank Dobie and Lon Tinkle demanded their names be removed as historical advisors.Despite this , The Alamo is an excellent movie and a classic.the cinematography and the music are awesome .
½ March 21, 2009
this is greatest epic film with an john wayne who is starring(as davy crockett)& director. the story of the alamo & battle.
June 17, 2008
I'm a huge John Wayne fan, but I'm afraid this movie is kind of a clunker. It's waaaaay too long (nearly three and a half hours), with much of the movie focusing on things that have nothing to do with the Battle of the Alamo. The three-hour build-up to the actual battle is just too much, and when the battle finally arrives, there's no satisfaction in it, as you're forced to watch all the film's heroes (including the immortal John Wayne) get massacred by the Mexicans.
April 28, 2007
Don't mistake this for a history movie. This is a John Wayne movie. It's entertaining and uplifting and not one bit of it ever happened. Oh, there is a place called the Alamo and there once was a battle fought there but it didn't happen the way it's showed in this movie. The real battle of the Alamo is far more interesting and complex than is depicted in this movie. In this movie Davy Crockett found himself a girlfriend. The real David Crockett was a married man. In this movie Jim Bowie is the picture of perfect health. The real Jim Bowie was on his deathbed and probably had only a few days left to live when the battle took place. In this movie the Mexicans launch an attack in the middle of the afternoon and are mowed down by Texans shooting single shot rifles. In the real battle the Mexicans launched a pre-dawn surprise attack and took the Alamo after three hours of brutal hand-to-hand combat. In the movie the cannon shells explode flawlessly. In the real battle the cannons used solid shot that didn't explode. The movie never explains why the great Davy Crockett wound up at the Alamo. The movie implies that the holding of the Alamo was a clever strategy of Sam Houston. The truth was that Sam Houston ordered the Alamo destroyed and Travis was disobeying orders. Watch the movie and then go read a history book.
October 7, 2008
Kinda cheesy, but one of those 'event' flicks that got some names together and promised a good time. This only partly delivers that.
October 4, 2008
I love this movie. When I firsted watched it I was about 6yrs old and I was watching all the Disney Davy Crocket movies so I was disapointed when I saw it wasnt John Wayne loved it anyways.
January 28, 2008
In 1836 General Santa Anna and the Mexican army is sweeping across Texas. To be able to stop him, General Sam Huston needs time to get his main force into shape. To buy that time he orders Colonel William Travis to defend a small mission on the Mexicans' route at all costs.
½ July 9, 2007
GREAT MOVIE..Especially since few actors to base the movie on... VEry few lived to make it to the alamo part thats famous.. ONE survived to tell the heroic story...
August 17, 2015
You can't beat John Wayne as Davey Crockett.
April 12, 2015
This is more a John Wayne Western than a historical account of The Alamo. John Wayne played John Wayne in every one of his films. He created this larger than life legend. He was grand, huge and epic. Every thing that The Alamo wants to be.
March 27, 2015
This was very 'chatty' wasn't it. The action scenes in the final act were at least some reward for making it to the end.
February 27, 2015
Awful script. Good actors couldn't save it. See Genghis Khan.
½ May 23, 2014
Overwrought, overly-macho take on a very historic event.

Should have been simple enough: tell the story of the Battle of the Alamo with some good, epic action scenes and some character development. The action scenes are there, and are good. However, the character development is quite superficial: there are no shades of grey. Travis is a martinet, Crockett and Bowie are one-dimensional, anarchic, uber-hero adventurers.

Moreover, director John Wayne and writer James Edward Grant add in several sub-plots which have no bearing on the story. Yes, some are there to add some colour to the characters, but they just seem gratuitous and wholly unnecessary.

Acting is almost all of the over-the-top macho variety. John Wayne was always going to be the swaggering hero (that's all he knows), and, as he is director, now he has licence to crank up the swagger. Richard Widmark comes close to matching him in this regard. Only Laurence Harvey, as Travis, plays it straight. Too straight: he comes off as cranky.

Surprisingly, despite all the hammy acting that abounds, this movie got an acting Oscar nomination. Chill Wills was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, for his performance as Beekeeper. Probably the most undeserved Oscar nomination in history. Apparently his marketing campaign in attempting to get the Oscar is worth a movie itself...

This all said, this version is still far better than the one from 2004.
Page 1 of 14