The Alamo (1960)

the alamo poster 1960 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Decent looking, ok cast

Fictionalized history

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Alamo

Studio:  Batjac Productions/The Alamo Company

Genre(s):  Drama/War/Action/Adventure/Western

Release Date(s):  October 24, 1960 (Premiere)/October 27, 1960 (UK)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

the alamo jim bowie william travis laurence harvey richard widmark

Bowie vs. Travis…both men lose

War is raging between the United States and Mexico and a fort called the Alamo sits at the edge of the push by General Santa Anna (Ruben Padilla) to take back the land north of the Rio Grande.  Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel William Travis (Laurence Harvey), the Alamo finds aid from soldiers led by Davy Crockett (John Wayne) and Jim Bowie (Richard Widmark)…leading to a battle of wills between the men.  As the Mexican forces creep forward, Sam Huston (Richard Boone) and his soldiers could be the only hope, but history is about to be made.

Directed by John Wayne, The Alamo is a historic war drama.  The film was met with mixed to positive reviews.  It received an Academy Award for Best Sound with nominations Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Chill Wills), Best Cinematography—Color, Best Film Editing, Best Dramatic or Comedy Score, and Best Song (“The Green Leaves of Summer”).  A theatrical release was 167 minutes with an extended 202 version also existing.

the alamo davy crockett john wayne linda cristal

Let’s add a half-baked love story…with Davy Crockett

I have a tough time with John Wayne Westerns and not only is The Alamo a John Wayne Western…but it is also directed by Wayne.  Unfortunately, The Alamo is kind of what you’d expect…with a long runtime added in.

The movie is painted as a historic drama, but the movie takes a lot of liberties with the history of the Alamo while also providing little historical context to the war.  This isn’t shocking in 1960, but it still feels like an important aspect of the story.  Being faithful to history sometimes can lead to boredom…but the movie is already a bit of slog and even the action packed ending doesn’t pay out enough.

Much of the conflict during the movie is between Richard Widmark and Laurence Harvey.  Harvey plays a completely uppity guy and Widmark plays the ultra down-to-earth Bowie.  Windmark tried to leave the production because he didn’t feel he fit the Bowie image, and Wayne had wanted to play John Houston since he was also directing.  Frankie Avalon was cast as the young Smitty to try to draw in a younger crowd.

the alamo last stand mexican army

We might have a bit of a problem…

The movie looks pretty good and put the money in the recreation of the Alamo.  If you’ve ever been to the Alamo, it isn’t very impressive and shoehorned into the downtown of San Antonio.  The set for The Alamo is more what you’d expect and probably has helped shaped your imagery of the event…the battle sequence at the end shows the slaughter, but it is such a slow ride that it isn’t worth it.

The Alamo tells a story that is a story and not history.  Since it has the liberties of a story, you’d expect it to be a better story.  Even though it is shorter and almost just as fictitious, something like Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier is a better choice…simply because it is shorter.  While “Remember the Alamo” might be the slogan, the movie barely has a story you can remember.

Related Links:

Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier (1955)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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