The Alamo (1960)

 

 

Director:     John Wayne

Starring:     John Wayne (Col. Davy Crockett), Richard Widmark (Jim Bowie), Laurence Harvey (Col. William Travis), Frankie Avalon (Smitty), Patrick Wayne (Capt. James Butler Bonham), Linda Cristal (Graciela Carmela Maria 'Flaca' de Lopez y Vejar), Joan O'Brien (Mrs. Sue Dickinson), Chill Wills (Beekeeper), Joseph Calleia (Juan Seguin), Ken Curtis (Capt. Almeron Dickinson), Carlos Arruza (Lt. Reyes), Jester Hairston (Jethro), Veda Ann Borg (Blind Nell Robertson), John Dierkes (Jocko Robertson), Denver Pyle (Thimblerig, the Gambler),  Aissa Wayne (Lisa Angelica Dickinson), Hank Worden (Parson), William Henry (Dr. Sutherland), Bill Daniel (Col. Neill), Wesley Lau (Emil Sande), Chuck Roberson (Tennesseean), Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams (Lt. 'Irish' Finn), Olive Carey (Mrs. Dennison), Ruben Padilla (Generalissimo Antonio Miguel Lopez de Santa Anna), Richard Boone (Gen. Sam Houston)..

fight to slow down Santa Anna's army so Sam Houston could raise an army of Texicans in the the fight for Texas independence from Mexico

 

1836.  Texas was part of Mexico.  It inhabitants were made up of settlers from foreign countries and all parts of the United States.  They were Mexican citizens all.  Generalissimo Santa Anna was sweeping north across Mexico toward them.

San Antonio in what became Texas.  Political leader Sam Houston arrives with some men to confer with the men at the Alamo.  Houston asks for Jim Bowie, but Bowie is drunk.  He then promotes Major Travis to Colonel Travis.  Houston tells him to keep Santa Anna off his neck until he has time to shape un an army.  Travis informs Houston that he has only 27 regulars and Bowie is bringing 100 volunteers.  It was Bowie who took the town from Mexican General Coz.  Houston does not like Travis personally but can trust him.  Houston and his men leave.  The red, white and green flag with the date 1824 on the white part is raised. 

The volunteers arrive and Lt. Blake shows them to their quarters.  Bowie goes to talk with Travis.  The two men do not like each other.  Bowie says that the reports say that Santa Anna has some 7,000 men.  And so what?, is Travis's attitude.  Sr. Sequino, a local wealthy rancher, comes to the Alamo with a military report.  Travis is a little too over-conscientious and he tells the rancher that "No civilians may enter the fort."  This causes trouble with Bowie because he knows that the rancher has news about Santa Anna.  Bowie intercedes and talks with the rancher.  Santa Anna has crossed the Bajo River.  Travis dismisses the report saying that everyday he gets rumors consisting of what turns out to be worthless information.  Bowies tells Travis:  "You're a damn fool, Travis!"  Captain Dickinson, the right hand man of Travis, says they at least have from two to three days before they see the banners of Santa Anna's army. 

Parson and a young fellow named Smitty fire a rifle, the signal for the different groups of men to gather together around them.  The men, including the famous Davy Crockett, are from Tennessee.  They congregate and then head into San Antonio.  They celebrate their arrival at the local Cantina.  At the Cantina Travis goes inside and talks with Crockett.  Travis asks Crockett's permission to speak with his men about the tyrannical rule of Santa Anna.  Permission granted.  Travis tells the men that the local residents have no rights in the court; no market for their produce; and trade with the North has been forbidden.  Afterwards, Crockett has a slugging contest with another man.  Crockett knocks the guy out.

Crockett asks if Texas is going to be declared a republic.  Travis doesn't really know.  Crockett explains that his men didn't come to fight for Texas.  He brought them down on the pretext of having a good time hunting and getting drunk.  His hope, however, is that the men will join in the fight.  Crockett sees a pretty woman with the nickname Flaca (skinny in English).  He watches as a coach arrives.  A man named Emil steps out and she is very angry with him.  Crockett intervenes and the man asks him if he is looking for trouble.  Then Emil takes Flaca upstairs to her room.  Crockett doesn't give up.  He brings up the luggage and the boy assigned to get the luggage.  He knocks on the door, gives the luggage to the fellow and then asks for a tip for the boy.  He pushes his way in and asks the woman if the guy is bothering her.  She declines his assistance. 

Flaca asks the man:  "You expect me to marry you?"  The fellow says that she will say yes.  He leaves.  Crockett goes in to see her and asks her if she needs any help.  She is grateful, but she does not need assistance.  Crockett starts to walk back to the Cantina.  Emil gathers a lot of thugs around him and they are going to thrash Crockett for his impertinence.  Of course, that is not going to be an easy task for the thugs, but they start getting the best of Crockett after a while.  At this time, Jim Bowie arrives on his horse.  He uses the horse to bust through the clump of men, knocking some of them down.  He then returns to fight with his fists.  The two men together beat off the thugs. 

Crockett and Bowie have a drink at the Cantina and get to know one another.  Bowie praises the beauty of Mexico and the friendliness of the Mexicans.  Flaca comes down to talk with Crockett in private.  She tells him that Emil is a Santa Anna backer and he has hid a lot of gunpowder in the church basement.  She opposes Santa Anna, but she still says that she is going to marry Emil. 

Crockett and Bowie round up some of their men and they go into the church.  They find the powder and about 50 rifles.  They confiscate the supplies for the Alamo. 

Santa Anna's army is still on the move.  And his army pushes a great many refugees ahead of them who come and go through San Antonio.  Crockett has Flaca write a letter to Crockett in Spanish.  She does not understand what he is up to, but carries out his wishes. 

The men bring the gunpowder and rifles to Travis.  He has a pretty cousin at the fort who is married to Capt. Dickinson.  Travis says that Fannin is doing well at Goliad.  He has almost 1,000 men with him and they will march to San Antonio to save the men of the Alamo.  Travis and Bowie fight over strategy.  Travis wants to hide the great difficulties the men will face at the Alamo, but Bowie says he won't lie.   Bowie takes his leave. 

Crockett meets with his men.  He has Flaca translate and read aloud the letter Crockett had her write for him in Spanish.  The letter is supposed to be from Santa Anna and is arrogant in tone telling the Tennesseans that they must leave or die.  This makes the men want to fight.  After the enthusiasm to fight subsides a little, Crockett confesses that the letter is false.  He says he just wanted to see what he thought he would see: his Tennesseans demanding to fight.  Crockett walks with Flaca by the river.  A coach arrives with all her luggage aboard.  He explains that she is leaving San Antonio for her own safety.  She is reluctant to go:  "Maybe I never see you again."  Crockett insists she go and she complies.

Crockett and his men report to the Alamo to fight.  Bowie fights with Travis.  Bowie wants a guerrilla war, but Travis insists that his plan be put into action.  Bowie has to yield. 

Some of Santa Anna's forces arrive in San Antonio.  A delegation under a white flag rides to the Alamo.  One of the men reads a declaration.  The men of the Alamo must leave at once and they must leave all arms and ammunition behind.  If this offer is refused, no quarter will be given to the Alamo defenders.  The offer is refused.  Travis is hoping that soon Fannin will arrive.  The Mexicans chase a patrol party coming back into the Alamo.  The men make it safely back. 

The Mexicans have a huge cannon and they demonstrate its power.  There is a big explosion in the Alamo.  The defenders know that the huge cannon must be destroyed, so a patrol of 15 men go out at night to destroy it.  The cannon is blown up by the raiders.  Travis is alerted only after the patrol has gone.  He sends Capt. Dickinson and some men out to help Crockett and the other raiders.  The raiders start running back to the Alamo chased by Mexicans on horseback.  Capt. Dickinson and his men save the raiders by stopping the on-coming Mexican soldiers and having each raider ride double on the back of Capt. Dickinson's horses. 

Travis uses some very harsh words to Bowie and Crockett.  He tells Bowie that he has had enough of his insubordination.  Bowie wants a duel with Travis, a duel that is postponed until after the war is over.  Bowie prepares his men to leave the Alamo.  Travis calls Bowie a "knife-fighting adventurer".   Crockett intervenes in the dispute between Travis and Bowie, which Bowie does not like and then he takes Bowie to the base hospital to have Bowie's leg wound treated.   After Bowie is patched up, he slugs Crockett knocking him down.   He tells Crockett to never make a fool out of him again. 

Bowie receives a message that his Mexican wife has died.  He is very upset.  At this time Travis arrives to harass Bowie.  He demands to see the letter that he received from outside the Alamo.  Crockett explains that Bowie has just been informed that he wife has died.  Crockett has Bowie give Travis the letter.  Travis reads the letter and then apologize a couple of times to Bowie. 

The situation at the Alamo has just gotten worse.  There have been 32 cases of dysentery among the women and children at the fort.  The men have examined all the supplies of salt pork and found them all to be tainted.  So now there are only three or four whole days of rations for the garrison.  They are going to have to get food from the Mexican army.  Crockett and a patrol is send out.  The Mexicans are busy watching a performance by a woman flamenco dancer.  The future Texans knock out the guards around a huge herd of cattle and then separate out a smaller herd of cattle.  Dickinson takes out a group from the Alamo to both create a diversion and to protect the cattle wrestlers.  Crockett and his team push the cattle toward the Alamo protected by Dickinson and his men.  The cattle are driven into the Alamo compound. 

Santa Anna arrives with the main body of the army.  He delivers a message that the women and children of the Alamo will be permitted to leave and travel to wherever they desire.  A small wagon train of women, children and old men leave the Alamo.  Mrs. Dickinson refuses to leave with the others.  She will stay behind with her child and husband. 

"Sound to attack!" is the order given by Santa Anna.  The Mexican army attacks the fort.  The men in the fort are able to stop the attack, but they lose 28 dead and 22 wounded.  Bowie says that they have been cut down in force by a third and Fannin has only 500 men.  But the full truth comes out.  Fannin and his men were ambushed and murdered.  Bowie says he is taking his men out.  Crockett agrees saying: "Seems the better part of valor."   Travis agrees that without reinforcements the Alamo can't hold.  He wishes Bowie and Crockett well, including their good and bold soldiers.  As Bowie and his men start to ride out of the garrison, Bowie has second thoughts and decides that he himself will stay.  His men, however, get off their horses and gather behind Travis and Bowie.  The Tennesseans see this and they also get down from their horse deciding to stay and fight. 

Smitty gets through to Sam Houston with a message from the Alamo.  Houston tells his staff that the Alamo is surrounded and they can't help them.  He adds that 185 of their friends are buying time for them to raise an army by sacrificing their lives. 

At the Alamo Mrs. Dickinson and child (and the child of the black slave) are taken to a more secure area in the garrison.  Bowie and Crockett have a discussion of religion.  Bowie frees his slave Jethro.  He tells Jethro to go on and get over the wall, but Jethro decides to stay and fight. 

The next morning the Mexican cannon open up on the Alamo.  In the attack Bowie is wounded and taken from the front line.  The soldiers bring up the ladders and start getting in to the fort complex.  Travis is killed.  Dickinson is killed.  The cavalry pushes through and into the fort complex.  Crockett is speared with a lance.  He throws a torch into the powder magazine and disappears in the following tremendous explosion.  Bowie and Jethro are killed.  The Mexican troops find the hiding place of Mrs. Dickinson and the two boys.  Smitty arrives but too late.  He watches from a small hill as the Mexicans let Mrs. Dickinson and the boys leave the Alamo.  She and the children head up the hill to hook up with Smitty. 

 

A pretty good movie.  At times it was a little too maudlin, especially the religious talk between Crockett and Bowie.  But it gives a good idea of the physical set up of San Antonio and the Alamo mission complex.  Wayne was a little over the top as Crockett and I thought Richard Widmark was way too skinny to be the famous knife-fighter Jim Bowie.   Laurence Harvey Travis was good as the tight-assed Col. Travis.  There was a tiny bit of a love story between Crockett and a Mexican senorita, but it couldn't go too far as the battle for the Alamo was nearing fast.  Crockett sent her away to safety.  The battle scenes were also pretty good.  A mission is not a fort and one can see how the defenders were killed fairly quickly.  In other words, the mission complex could not have lasted long; it was too spread out and without real walls.  

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 


ALAMO

early 1700s --  Spaniards built the a large mission named the Alamo, including a church, corrals, barracks, storage rooms, and blacksmith shop. Its walls were 12 ft. high and 3 ft. wide.

1821  --  Mexico breaks away from Spain.

1835

September --  Mexican Army under Lt. Francisco Castaneda and a hundred dragoons arrive to take back a cannon from the Texans at Gonzales.

October 2 --  the Battle of Gonzales; Texans attack Lt. Castaneda, firing their cannon and rifles. Lt. Castaneda withdraws to Bexar because his orders are to avoid a fight.

October 9  --  A week later Texans under the command of Captain Collinsworth capture Goliad and its two cannon.

October 13  -- Stephen Austin heads from Gonzales to San Antonio to throw Mexican General Cos out of Texas.

October 27-28  --  Austin sends Jim Bowie, James W. Fannin and Andrew Briscoe on patrol with 92 men to scout out the situation. General Cos attacks Bowie at the Mission Purisima Concepcion. The Mexicans suffer heavy casualties and have to withdraw. William Barret Travis and a mounted company gives chase.

November 24  --  Austin headed for the U.S. on a political task, so the 405 Texans besieging General Cos elect Edward Burleson leader.

December 4  -- call off the siege until spring.

December 5  --  Ben Milam refuses to give up the siege, rallies 240 Texans and they attack San Antonio; Milam is killed.

December --  General Cos surrenders.

December 10 -- Dr. James Grant and 200 troops leave San Antonio and head toward Matamoros; Colonel Neil and around 100 men hold San Antonio.

1836

January 7 --  Gen. Santa Anna arrives at Satillo to march on San Antonio.

January 17  --  Jim Bowie and 30 men leave Goliad  for San Antonio to deliver the order to Colonel Neill to abandon and blow up the Alamo.

January 18  -- Colonel Neill has to consolidate his forces at the Alamo because of his dwindling number of troops.

January 19 --  Jim Bowie and 30 men arrive at the Alamo.

January 22 --  Americans learn that Santa Anna and 4600 men are marching on the Alamo.

January 23 --  Governor Smith sends William Travis and 30 men to the Alamo.

January 26 --   men of the Alamo sign a resolution to stay and fight.

February 2 -- Jim Bowie writes a letter to Governor Smith asking for help.

February 8 --  Davy Crockett and his "Tennessee Mounted Volunteers" arrive at the Alamo.

February 14 --  Travis and Bowie agree on a joint command of the 146 men.

February 23  --  Santa Anna reaches San Antonio.

February 24  --  Jim Bowie ill; Travis in full charge.

February 25 -- a small group of Alamo defenders burn La Villita--a small collection of huts near the Alamo that the Mexicans had been using as protective cover.

February 26  --  Fannin sets out from Goliad with 320 men to head to the Alamo, but they soon turn back for lack of supplies and the fear that Goliad would be exposed to the Mexican Army.

February 28  --  news reaches Fannin that Mexican General Urrea has defeated Colonel Frank Johnson's forces at the battle of San Patricio, just fifty miles south with most of the Texans killed.

March 1  --  32 men from Gonzales, led by George Kimball, arrive at the Alamo at 3 am.

March 2  --  Texas Independence is declared at Washington-on-the-Brazos.

March 3  --  Jim Bonham leaves Fannin and rides through the Mexican lines to the Alamo at 11 am.

March 3  --  Gaona's men arrive giving Santa Anna an extra 2,400 men and ten artillery pieces.

March 5  --  the day of the attack but Mexicans break off about 5 pm; Travis draws his line in the sand.

March 6  --  Just after 5 am Santa Anna's troops charge the Alamo. Texans repulse two attacks. North Wall is breached and Travis dies there. Crockett falls on the South side. Bowie dies inside the main structure or the low barracks. Hand-to-hand combat. All defenders killed.

"Remember the Alamo" becomes the rallying call of the Texans.

September -- Sam Houston becomes President of the Texas Republic.

1845

The republic of Texas joins the United States.

 

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