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With: John Wayne, Lawrence Harvey, Richard Widmark, Richard Boone, Frankie Avalon, Patrick Wayne, Linda Cristal, Chill Wills, Joseph Calleia
Written by: James Edward Grant
Directed by: John Wayne
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 162
Date: 10/24/1960

The Alamo (1960)

2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

John Wayne doesn't appear for the first twenty minutes of The Alamo, his 1960 directorial debut, and that's a bad sign. Instead we get Lawrence Harvey, a prim and pinched sort of actor -- he had one good role, in The Manchurian Candidate -- trying to get his lips around James Edward Grant's stilted dialogue. At least Richard Widmark (Pickup on South Street) is on hand; he lends a welcome menace and gracelessness to his role. Wayne plays Davy Crockett, who helps defend the Alamo against impossible odds and wins independence for the state of Texas from the Mexicans. Wayne is as good as usual and even makes his big awkward speech ("Republic -- I like the sound of the word...") sound good. As a director, Wayne doesn't seem to know what to do with the widescreen (1 to 2.35) frame. He fills it with extras, but fails to really use it to tell the story; the individual shots don't really add up to much. Legend has it that John Ford helped out on some of the second unit action scenes, but it doesn't show. Critics who panned this film in 1960 were labeled as anti-patriots, as if not liking this movie meant you also disagreed with the true story. Wayne would go on to direct only one more film, the notorious The Green Berets in 1968.

DVD Details: MGM's new DVD comes with an interesting 40-minute documentary that mixes new footage with older behind-the-scenes footage. It also includes the trailer.

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