on December 19, 2000
I want to warn others not to make the mistake I did. This is not that beautiful director's cut which was issued on Laser and VHS. If that is what you are looking for, WAIT.
I am completely in awe why the studio would release the trimmed down version of this film on DVD!
Please please release the 202 minute version.
on January 20, 2002
Having the VHS version of this wonderful movie with surround sound and the director's cut I looked forward to the DVD being released. Unfortunately, the distributors have short changed all of us here by releasing the short version of the film with 2 Channel Stereo and no Overture, Intermission or Exit Music. Come on guys, look at what the VHS offers in content. Surely the DVD should be just as good or better!!!!!
on May 22, 2004
One could easily say that seeing this film for the first time was a turning point in my life (it probably had a great impact on a lot of other 6-year old boys, too). To this day, John Wayne's "The Alamo" still has a firm grip on me emotionally.
True, the film is not accurate to history, but I dare anyone to name a movie that is! As I stated in my review of "The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc", Hollywood makes "movies", not documentaries (and most documentaries don't agree on the details of the Alamo, anyway). Movie producers, like John Wayne, try to make an "entertainment", to sell tickets and make money. People who think film makers are honor-bound to tell only the truth on the screen are kidding themselves.
So the question is: Does this movie entertain? Speaking subjectively, I say a resounding "Yes!". I guess there's still a lot of 6-year old in me.
One suggestion I have for Ted Turner (or whoever makes the DVD decisions over at MGM) is to release the roadshow Director's Cut version on a 2-Disc Special Edition. Include the 40-minute documentary found on the current disc, and any other archival footage pertaining to the film (Oscars, premiere, interviews). I would also like to see the television special, "Spirit of the Alamo", that John Wayne hosted in 1960. A part of it was used in the aforementioned documentary, but it would be nice to see the program complete for a change. Perhaps the discs could also include a printed history of the Alamo and other events during the Texas Revolution, so viewers won't come away from the film thinking they just witnessed the truth.
As a personal added bonus to yours truly, it would be nice to see the original poster art on the DVD cover for a change, showing a fine painting of the battle in full fury.
on March 29, 2001
Since I already have the laser disc (full directors cut),I could hardly wait for the DVD. I was shocked to find that the DVD was the standard theater release, with the entrance,intermission, and exit music missing, not to mention the aspect ratio was not 2:35 to 1, but around 2:25 to 1, and even the Making Of The Alamo featurette had been edited. What a disappointment! During the final battle the sound dropped noticably. It is ashamed with such an excellent print available to MGM, that they decided to release this version. As a John Wayne fan, I have always enjoyed the movie, even though historically it is highly inacurate. Music is tops by Dimitri Tiomkin, and supporting cast are excellent. John Waynes Alamo still stands to this day in Bracketville Texas, and can be visited. All left standing as a monument to his effort.
With the exception of the recent Billy Bob Thornton retelling of the tale, few epics have had quite as bad a press as John Wayne's The Alamo. If it is not the masterpiece Wayne set out to make, it is also certainly not the disaster it is often painted. Even financially the film eventually turned a very healthy profit, although the staggered nature of its roadshow release meant that it didn't do so quickly enough to save Wayne from having to sell his share in the picture he had invested so much in.
Very much a personal crusade, he raised the $12m budget partially from a trio of Texas millionaires and from his own pocket. The set and surrounding village were actually built three years before shooting, ostensibly so that vegetation could grow naturally around it, though problems raising the budget seem more likely. Nonetheless, the film's much-trumpeted great pains to look authentic extends to the casting, enhanced by some of the great faces in the supporting cast, not least of them the irreplaceable Hank Worden, replacing Old Mose Harper's desire for a rockin' chair for 'the time to live and a place to die' in one of his best performances as the Parson. Laurence Harvey, a man reputedly in life as innately impossible to like as his character in The Manchurian Candidate, carries the dramatic element as Travis more than efficiently, while Wayne and Widmark give perfect demonstrations of fleshing out a part through star quality as Davey Crockett and Jim Bowie.
Along with 55 Days at Peking, this was the biggest of the siege epics of the sixties (Zulu, Khartoum, The War Lord), recounting a somewhat romanticised version of the iconic battle that saw some 185 men hold off 7000 Mexican soldiers for thirteen days. Very much a populist epic, it is broadly entertaining but with a quiet dignity at its heart, and while there is sentiment, it is pure and honest enough not to seem desperately manipulative. Wayne's direction is a strong point, with a good visual eye that owes nothing to John Ford (who had less to do with the film than is commonly believed and nothing to do with the truly spectacular battle scenes) and a surprising generosity to friend and foe alike.
There are many moments of pure visual poetry, too - a rider galloping through a stream, defeated Mexican troops reflected in a muddy pond while their women carry away the bodies of their loved ones and the astonishing finale where the screen is packed to bursting with thousands of extras. The cavalry sequences in particular are strikingly well handled, with a healthy respect for the horses (unlike many sixties epics, none were hurt or killed). True, it sure is a long time a-comin', but if there's a more spectacular battle scene on film this side of Bondarchuk's Waterloo, I've not seen it.
Unfortunately, the DVD is something of a travesty. Facing personal bankruptcy, two weeks after the film opened Wayne asked his producer son Michael to cut the film to get in more shows to improve its cash flow - the film was popular, but at nearly three-and-a-half hours was limited to only two shows a day at a handful of theatres. No prizes for guessing which version MGM/UA have chosen to release. Although the uncut version was available on video and laser disc, the company's rationale for releasing the cut version to DVD was that since there were no foreign language soundtracks surviving for the uncut version and they were committed to releasing multiple-language versions, the cut version was preferable to subtitling the film for foreign languages. To add insult to injury, even the hour-long documentary produced for the laserdisc release has been cut back to 40 minutes to paper over any mention of the restored version!
As a result, some half an hour of footage is now missing once again not much more than a decade after it was restored. Even the Overture, Intermission, Entr'acte and Exit Music from Dimitri Tiomkin's superb score have been lost. The only positive is that the widescreen transfer at least makes the most of Wayne and cinematographer William Clothier's careful Scope compositions - and films like this are what Scope is all about.
As for what you're missing, much of the extra running time was taken up by slightly extended scenes, such as Travis' explaining why he knows "I am better than that rabble" that he commands, crucial to understanding his character. Nonetheless, there are several 'new' scenes, the more significant additions including: more of Bowie's opening scene and various bridging scenes enlarging on his conflict with Travis; the death of the profiteer Emil when he tries to stop Crockett taking the gunpowder from the church and a subsequent love scene between Crockett and Flacca; nearly a full reel after the Intermission where Bowie decides to leave the Alamo but is dissuaded by Patrick Wayne reluctantly lying about the number of reinforcements on their way; Scotty's patrol discovering the cattle and coming off badly at the hands of some pursuing Mexican Lancers and Dragoons; and the death of Parson and Crockett's quietly effective prayer.
Even if to some the film still felt too long at 203 minutes (and frankly, it do), none of these scenes should have been the ones to be cut, and their restoration helped the film flow more smoothly than the shorter version. Worse, it's not an isolated incident - MGM/UA meted out similar treatment to the restored version of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World] on DVD, while some other titles like The Dogs of War and F*I*S*T are available in two different cuts on either side of the Atlantic.
The film's reputation may limit its appeal to Wayne's fans and the epic collector, but it's a fine film that deserves better treatment on DVD than it received.
on March 16, 2001
To paraphrase a line from "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," when the truth won't support the legend, show the legend. John Wayne's personal labor of love to make this film is well known. Let's anticipate any comments about historical accuracy by calling it artistic license and move on. The authentic reproduction of sets and the thrilling large-scale battle scenes distinguish this film. The movie tends to ramble at over three hours in length, but an enthusiastic performance by a veteran cast makes the time pass quickly. Only Frankie Avalon in his over-sized "skunk-skin" cap looks out of place. He should run, not walk, back to the beach party. John Wayne portrays Davey Crockett as a clear-headed and deeply passionate patriot who waxes eloquent on such topics as republic, liberty, and battling tryanny. The film's unabashed appeal to patriotic duty and manly honor make it a beguiling relic of a by-gone era. The cliches may seem quaint, but you can't take anything away from their spirited presentation. Arguably, it reflects a WWII type fervor rather than the cynicism that later developed. It may explain why many professional critcs did not like this film when it was released in 1960. The legendary incident of Travis standing alone and the other Alamo defenders eventually standing with him is a high point of this movie. Since the script never misses a chance to exploit folklore, we're surprised that Travis never literally draws a line in the sand. Following the lead of his mentor, John Ford, filmmaker Wayne nicely blends humor and sentiment. Music that is by turns stirring and touching is used effectively. Action-adventure fans will enjoy the blood and thunder as the Mexican army attacks the makeshift ramparts manned by the outnumbered defenders. The cappuccino drinking "Sleepless in Seattle" crowd should skip this one. ;-)
on March 9, 2000
The Alamo, the movie has been and always will be my families all-time favorite Alamo movie. John Wayne as Davy Crockett, is a brilliamt and different portrait of one of our nations greatest heroes. Richard Widmark, another family favorite, playing Jim Bowie, cannot be beat. Chill Wills as Beekeeper, Hank Wardon as the preacher are two exceptional actors that help bring out the movie. Richard Boone, as the best actor who has played General Sam Houston, absolutely cannot be bested in this role! I suggest this movie as pure entertainment not historical on all accounts. The Alamo is a movie I grew up watching every year on San Jacinto Day, and I will continue to watch it if played on that day as a sort of family tradition.
on March 10, 2006
I yield to no one in my love for this film (even though I grew up in San Antonio and know how questionable the history is), but why hasn't the studio released the original, uncut version, which ran some 40 minutes longer than this one? There are huge chunks of my movie missing, and I want them back!
This DVD of "The Alamo" is not the "Director's Cut" that was shown at the LA premiere and issued on Laser Disc and VHS. It is the edited version that was issued for general release. It is missing at least 26 minutes of footage. It also does not contain the Overture or Intermission. I do not know if it contains the Exit music because I turned it off after the part where the Intermission should have been. "The Alamo" is one of my top 10 favorite movies of all time. This DVD version broke my heart. Anybody who loves films knows how I feel. MGM has been having experiencing numerous problems with their DVD division this year. This latest DVD of "The Alamo" is just one more example of their proliferation into the abyss of non-existent quality assurance at their facilities. For example, on the opening credits they can't even keep control of horizontal movement as the frame moves up and down. This film deserves better. The Alamo is one of America's greatest icons. Through word, song and picture the legend of the Alamo was handed down and stills lives today. Men and women of different religious, ethnic and social backgrounds came together and died or lost loved ones at the Alamo in a noble effort to overcome tyranny and preserve basic human freedoms. John Wayne preserved that legend on film. "The Alamo" is one of America's greatest films. Like I said, this DVD version is a real heartbreaker.
on March 18, 2004
The Alamo is a great movie that deserves to be released in its director's cut format with almost 30 minutes added. The movie tells the story of the famous battle and siege of the Alamo where 185 Texans fought an army of 7,000 men. Director and producer John Wayne does not tell the most accurate story of the battle, but that is beside the point. This is a movie that presents the courage and honor of the defenders of the Alamo very well. Even the Duke admitted this was not very accurate. The battle scenes, especially the final assault, are some of the best ever put on the screen. Dimitri Tiomkin's score is a classic as well as "The Green Leaves of Summer." For a great movie telling the story of the battle of the Alamo, with some embellishments, check out The Alamo.
John Wayne is great as Davy Crockett, the hunter/Congressman who fought at the Alamo. He brings a certain wit to the part. Richard Widmark is also very good as famous knife fighter, Jim Bowie, who is constantly fighting with the Alamo's commander, William Barett Travis, played by Laurence Harvey. The Alamo also stars Richard Boone, Patrick Wayne, Frankie Avalon, Ken Curtis, Chill Wills, Denver Pyle, Joan O'Brien, and countless other Wayne regulars. The DVD offers the widescreen presentation, a making of documentary, a collectible booklet, and a theatrical trailer. I would love to see a DVD release of the director's cut, but the only copy is semi-destroyed. If possible, find the Laser Disc uncut version or the VHS version. I recommend this DVD for the documentary although the movie is still great. Too bad there is not a Director's Cut DVD release. For an exciting and very enjoyable movie with the Duke and many more, check out The Alamo!