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BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!

16 Apr 04 - 11:12 AM (#1163223)
Subject: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: Little Hawk

I saw it night before last, and it's absolutely great. It's the first historically accurate and convincing film ever done on this fascinating incident, and treats both the Texans and the Mexicans with respect and compassion. The characterizations of Crockett, Bowie, Houston, Santa Ana, and Travis are very well done, showing them with all their warts...yet despite this, they become very sympathetic characters, with the exception of Santa Ana...his egomaniacal ways made him as much a pain for his own army as he was for the Texans or anyone else. He was a pretty detestable man with delusions of grandeur, and his incompetence led to his army being defeated quite easily by Sam Houston at San Jacinto.

There are some very striking lines in this movie. Santa Ana has a great one when he says to his generals that if they do not defeat the revolt in Texas "here and now", their children and grandchildren will "beg crumbs from the Americans". Too true. It was a prophetic statement.

The character of Davy Crockett is played so well by Billy Bob Thornton that it should become the definitive Crockett portrayal of all time. For the first time he seems like a real human being, not a cardboard "hero". David Crockett was a very famous man at the time, a full-blown celebrity, and he had been elected to Congress for one term, then lost his seat and decided to go to Texas. Like many others he was seeking a new start in unspoiled territory, and immigrants to Texas were being given a very generous parcel of land upon their arrival.

It was a complicated political situation, with many conflicting factors. Many of the Texans were slaveowners, and they wanted to continue the practice, but slavery was illegal in Mexico! This is touched upon in the movie. On the other hand, Santa Ana was an autocratic dictator who succeeded in alienating not only the American immigrants, but many of the Mexicans in the area as well. Texas was his to lose, because of his own arrogance and stupidity. The rebels in Texas were eager to establish a more democratic government, but they were also looking to pad their own pockets, so to speak. The Mexican soldiers were fighting to put down a rebellion and defend the sacred ground of Mexico from what they saw as a bunch of foreign pirates and terrorists.

So both sides had something worthwhile to fight for, and that is also shown in the film.

But the depiction of Davy Crockett is this film's masterpiece. Just marvelous, in my opinion.

- LH

16 Apr 04 - 11:31 AM (#1163238)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: Big Mick

Thanks, LH, I am anxious to see this one. I have always been troubled by the way movies and books have reduced this complex struggle to a slogan, and then created the whole story based on that slogan.


16 Apr 04 - 07:34 PM (#1163570)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: Little Hawk

Here's a laugh. The Toronto Sun ("The Scum") today had an article saying that the new Alamo film "bombed" at the box office, because it's "boring". (They did give it credit for being very historically accurate.) They pointed out that the 1960 Alamo movie with John Wayne was a big success at the box office back then, because it was "exciting" (though historically very inaccurate).

Well, I've seen John Wayne's 1060 movie "The Alamo". It was incredibly tedious, grossly sentimental in a really tacky way, miscasted, and perfectly dreadful. It had the worst depiction of Davy Crockett in history. I'd give it 3 out of 10 for a big budget movie.

It's amazing how shit sells, isn't it? John Wayne was a big star in 1960, however, and that draws people.

I give the new movie 9 out of 10. The Toronto Sun can go suck an egg. They still miss Ronald Reagan sooooo badly....

- LH

16 Apr 04 - 07:58 PM (#1163583)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: Strick

John Wayne's version was considered a box office bomb in 1960, too. A question for those of you who've seen the new version. When Crockett is captured and meets Santa Ana, doe he speak to him?

That Crockett was captured is still controversial here in Texas. There are two seemingly independent accounts that seem so similar they could authentic describing Crockett's capture and execution. In those accounts, Crockett is amoung 6 other defenders captured at the end of the battle. The general who captures them pleads with Santa Ana to spare them. Santa Ana orders their execution (no one is allowed to speak for himself) and they are executed by Mexican officers with swords, a fairly slow, brutal death. The men are said to have "died well".

I hear in the movie Billy Bob gets a speech before being killed. Is that true?

17 Apr 04 - 05:11 PM (#1163967)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: GUEST,robomatic

A line from another great movie, one of those works of fiction which give a real light on the facts, is from 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence' a must-see if you want to understand Americans. A famous man is telling a roomful of reporters the true story of his early life, which is at odds with what the public knows. At the end of his tale, the main reporter says: "When presented with the legend AND the truth, print the legend."

I haven't seen the Alamo flick yet, would love to see it with a Texan who knows history, which might also be a legend.

17 Apr 04 - 05:41 PM (#1163982)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: Peter T.

Another one of those "Americans as victims", so they get to do what they like afterwards, because they are pure, films...


Peter T.

17 Apr 04 - 07:22 PM (#1164031)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: Mary in Kentucky

Our local newspaper had a review of this movie. The review was written by the son (now living in Texas and a real Texas history afficionado) of the regular reviewer. He gave it a rating of 7 out of 10. Too often, he said, it would not choose a story line with the legend or with the historic facts...just muddled along somewhere in the middle. He said it left out the famous line-in-the-sand by Travis. He liked the Travis and Bowie characters.

17 Apr 04 - 08:45 PM (#1164081)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!

Though famous, it seems doubtfull Travis drew that line, though each man chose to remain all the same. LH, I've been a Crockett fan since Fess Parker in '55, and I believe Billy Bob nailed it, reluctant hero at times, but hero none the less. They portrayed the notion that David was "trapped" by being Davy... wonderfull. Mike

17 Apr 04 - 09:24 PM (#1164099)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: GUEST,Lyle

Some people will like this movie, some won't - nothing in the world wrong with that. To those who like it, I say, "Great. Glad you enjoyed it. But please DO NOT say that it is historically accurate!" There are literally thousands of places on the internet where you can find where the movie was inaccurate; an example is here.

That is not the best or the worst site, just an example. I have been surprised that there has been so much discussion about the accuracy of the movie, because in the general scheme of things, it did nothing to change, alter or determine the course of history. It became a legend long after the fact primarily by people looking for heroes and this was fertile ground since few then (or now) really knew what happened there.

Please note that I am not in any way commenting on the movie as entertainment. That, to me, is a personal choice of the individual, and I am happy so many like it. But also remember that to make a movie like that entertaining it must at times "film the legend."


18 Apr 04 - 02:57 PM (#1164547)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: Little Hawk

Lyle, I'm really only saying that it was far more accurate than previous attempts by Hollywood have been...

Yes, Crockett does make a brief speech to one of the Mexican officers, rather than to Santa Ana directly. He does so after being asked by Santa Ana (through the Mexican officer) if he wishes to "beg for mercy". The Mexicans are treated with dignity and understanding in this film, which raises it to a whole new level in its genre. It's not just a whitewash of American "purity". If the Mexicans had had a decent leader at the time, instead of an egomaniac they would probably have successfully put down that rebellion (and not executed Crockett and the other few survivors of the Alamo).

The movie points out that the Texans were practicing slavery, which had already been outlawed in Mexico. I call that a breakthrough in honesty for Hollywood movies.

Travis, Crockett, Bowie, Houston, and the rank and file of the Mexicans are all presented in a way that stirs sympathy and understanding, despite their very considerable human flaws. I call that a breakthrough as well.

It's a mature movie in a genre that is not generally known for much maturity.

- LH

18 Apr 04 - 03:17 PM (#1164561)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: GUEST,Lyle

Little Hawk

I wasn't really addressing your first post so much as the drift of this thread towards realism. I very much agree that the movie is the most accurate movie presentation that has come along, and does so while providing entertainment. That, to me, is progress. And I realize that without the entertainment factor few if any would go to see it.

By the way, the story presented at the Alamo is also getting more accurate. I first visited there in 1952, then in 1981, and the last time in February of 2004. According to the guides presentation in 1952, the John Wayne movie was pretty accurate! So I guess progress is being made on all fronts!


18 Apr 04 - 03:23 PM (#1164567)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: Fibula Mattock

Hm. I'm going to San Antonio on Tuesday. Might have to visit the Alamo once again. Haven't seen the film yet.

19 Apr 04 - 02:09 AM (#1164904)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: Cluin

If you're going to see it, take your earplugs. The cannons will leave your ears ringing. Seriously. I also found some of the scenes to be distractingly blurry, especially during long pans, but that may be the lousy screen I saw it on here.

Parts of it were pretty stinky (especially Dennis Quaid's moody-passing-for-tortured-and-thoughtful Sam Houston and Jason Patric--I really can't stand that guy-- as Jim Bowie whipping out his big knife to impress everybody every 5 minutes), but overall it wasn't the worst film I've seen... it's okay, I suppose. But Billy Bob makes the film for sure. And I DID like the fiddling. I never knew Davy Crockett was an accomplished fiddler and dancer before.

19 Apr 04 - 02:26 AM (#1164911)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: Clinton Hammond

I gave my money to "The Punisher", and was VERY happy I did!


19 Apr 04 - 02:32 AM (#1164912)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: Cluin

Are you STILL into S&M, Clinton?   ;)

19 Apr 04 - 11:37 AM (#1165262)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: Little Hawk

Aww, shucks...

I was hopin' you would hold out stubbornly, Clinton, and he'd beat the crap out of you. :-)

19 Apr 04 - 12:51 PM (#1165348)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: beadie

Damn, Cluin, my memory must be failing.

I thought that Davy's somewhat dimwitted sidekick, George Russell (Buddy Ebson in the Fess Parker version) who did all the hoofing.

19 Apr 04 - 01:17 PM (#1165366)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: Cluin

Yep, Buddy E. WAS an old hoofer (supposed to be the original Tin Man in "Oz"), but check out this page.

20 Apr 04 - 07:37 AM (#1165954)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: BanjoRay

Anybody know what tunes get played in the film?

20 Apr 04 - 03:57 PM (#1166416)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: Snoozer

I started a thread earlier about the movie music, but basically the theme music is almost identical to the theme music for the movie Rob Roy (1995), same composer of course.
Crockett's big musical number is Listen to the Mockingbird, (published in 1855, the Alamo battle took place in 1836).
And the Mexicans play De Guello, probably the only accurate piece of music in the film.
I thought the movie was "OK", it wasn't bad, but I wouldn't tell my friends to go see it.

20 Apr 04 - 05:17 PM (#1166472)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: Little Hawk

If you love the basic subject matter (Alamo incident and North American history), go and see it. If not, probably no big deal if you miss it, in general movie terms.

I love the basic subject matter, having personally defended the Alamo (when I was a kid) about 800 times, and having visited (and loved) Mexico.

- LH

20 Apr 04 - 05:19 PM (#1166474)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: Strick

The real problem is that not many people are interested in costume piece about Texas at a time like this. Too much like a western.

20 Apr 04 - 10:06 PM (#1166712)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: Little Hawk

Yup. That's probably right. I cannot fathom a society that has little interest in or appreciation for the historical past, yet gets all excited about totally made-up artificial stuff like Ninja Turtles, Spice Girls, and Hellboy.

21 Apr 04 - 01:17 AM (#1166814)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: Cluin

The historical accuracy stuff doesn't grab me too much. I don't expect or want that from the movies. The only character I had any sympathy for in the whole thing was Billy-Bob's Crockett. He shows up to become a pioneer again in the new Texas territory after losing his seat in the Senate, then finds out the fighting isn't over and gets pulled into a losing defense of the Alamo while trying to live up to his fabled image and still provide inspiration to his fellows. THAT's a good plot and conflict, and makes for a good story, whatever the historical accuracy behind it.

21 Apr 04 - 11:25 PM (#1167554)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: ex-pat

Hey Little Hawk,I'm with you. Really enjoyed the film. Billy Bob Thornton's performance as David Crockett is outstanding.
Not sure I understand Strick's comment...political perhaps?
I and most of my friends love that genre, being re-enactors of the 1812-14 and 1861-65 period.

23 Apr 04 - 10:44 PM (#1169449)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: GUEST,cuterick

Hey, this was a GREAT film - the Alamo set was absolutely PERFECT,dead on the money - I've been there several times, and the Alamo in this motion picture looks EXACTLY like the real thing...

Billy Bob Thornton was SUPERB as the latest movie version of Crockett - in fact, I don't believe his performance as Davy Crockett will ever be surpassed... This guy's up for an Oscar! You BELIEVE Thornton as "Crockett" - right through to the death scene at the end of the battle.

I could have done COMPLETELY without Jason Patric and his over hammed-up performance as Jim Bowie: whipping out his ridiculous large blade every 3 minutes - REALLY obnoxious!

I could also have done without the prissy way in which Patrick Williams portrayed William Barret Travis -

Randy Quaid as Sam Houston - let's not even GO there! Quaid's portrayal consists of overacting the role to the point of being silly. If he roared one more time in the movie I thought I would throw up!

As I said before, it's Billy Bob Thornton who simply saves the day for this film, along with the superb set and believable battle scenes... If you haven't seen this movie yet, GO - you'll enjoy it.

23 Apr 04 - 11:21 PM (#1169460)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: Strick

"Not sure I understand Strick's comment...political perhaps?"

Nope. Texas has been "overexposed" of over the past few years and people aren't interested. Costume dramas are out of fashion, note how little box office Master and Commander did relative to how good it was. Westerns such as Open Range would seem to need to pay audiences to come see them. Something is terribly, terribly wrong with property development at Disney (Home On The Range? Treasure Planet? what the hell were they thinking?).

This movie suffered from all of that and the box office showed it. No politics necessary or intended.

24 Apr 04 - 03:32 PM (#1169875)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: GUEST,mkebenn@work

Take it easy, Randy, cuterick meant Dennis, he really did. Mike

24 Apr 04 - 07:33 PM (#1170035)
Subject: RE: BS: 'The Alamo' - superb movie!
From: Peace

Well, it's good to see that people pay attention. We have, indeed, remembered the Alamo.