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