"The Alamo"s Status?

Capnvid

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Here's the thing about "The Alamo" being great or good. It's a one of a kind movie. In 1960, it was the most expensive movie ever made entirely in America. It was the first really big film to be independently financed, largely by Texas oil magnates. It cost Wayne a lot, financially, physically and mentally. But, as I pointed out in a prior post, John Farkis' book "Not Thinkin'...Just Rememberin'" goes to great length (I still can't believe how he got almost every "Alamo" anecdote he could find into 990 fine print pages) about Wayne's vision and that's what really sets "The Alamo" apart.

To quote William Clothier; ""The Alamo," in it's entirety, is Wayne's movie. His idea. His directing. Santa Anna's army approaching the Alamo was Duke. Everything was Duke's- except the horse falls. Cliff Lyons directed the horse falls. Duke directed horses jumping through cannon fire, rifle fire, all the close ups of the principles. Duke did that. John Ford wasn't even around. Cliff Lyons was standing by. John Wayne placed the men. Told me how to light it. Told me the affect he wanted. Told the stuntmen how to move and when to move. John Wayne directed "The Alamo." All the way. Could have been one of the best directors in Hollywood if God had not made him a star!"

Obviously, God did not give Wayne the same gifts with actors as he had with fascinating visions. "The Alamo" is the best use for dramatic impact I have seen with the TODD-AO image. Nobody else used TODD-AO cameras for a more dramatic effect. {David Lean used Super Panavision for the best 70mm images}. "The Alamo" is dramatically flawed. It was written by an alcoholic with some well written scenes scattered in an unwieldy structure that couldn't decide whether it was a TODD-AO epic or a sentimental action film. Mr. Harris was right when he said that the shorter version was better edited. But the director's cut gives Harvey, in his Jefferson Democracy speech, and Wayne's moving performance in Parson's death scene- perhaps their best and most evocative moments. It's uniqueness as a film effects us all with it's strength and weakness.

"The Alamo's" flaws are as gigantic as it's images. But it looks like no other movie has or will. One of a kind with an impact that is timeless. So let me be the 1,000th person to say that Mr. Harris should finally get the opportunity to make his 4K master of this epic so that Wayne's unique TOOD-AO achievement can be justified and preserved for future film loving generations to obsess about.
 

Tom St Jones

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Here's the thing about "The Alamo" being great or good. It's a one of a kind movie. In 1960, it was the most expensive movie ever made entirely in America. It was the first really big film to be independently financed, largely by Texas oil magnates. It cost Wayne a lot, financially, physically and mentally. But, as I pointed out in a prior post, John Farkis' book "Not Thinkin'...Just Rememberin'" goes to great length (I still can't believe how he got almost every "Alamo" anecdote he could find into 990 fine print pages) about Wayne's vision and that's what really sets "The Alamo" apart.

To quote William Clothier; ""The Alamo," in it's entirety, is Wayne's movie. His idea. His directing. Santa Anna's army approaching the Alamo was Duke. Everything was Duke's- except the horse falls. Cliff Lyons directed the horse falls. Duke directed horses jumping through cannon fire, rifle fire, all the close ups of the principles. Duke did that. John Ford wasn't even around. Cliff Lyons was standing by. John Wayne placed the men. Told me how to light it. Told me the affect he wanted. Told the stuntmen how to move and when to move. John Wayne directed "The Alamo." All the way. Could have been one of the best directors in Hollywood if God had not made him a star!"

Obviously, God did not give Wayne the same gifts with actors as he had with fascinating visions. "The Alamo" is the best use for dramatic impact I have seen with the TODD-AO image. Nobody else used TODD-AO cameras for a more dramatic effect. {David Lean used Super Panavision for the best 70mm images}. "The Alamo" is dramatically flawed. It was written by an alcoholic with some well written scenes scattered in an unwieldy structure that couldn't decide whether it was a TODD-AO epic or a sentimental action film. Mr. Harris was right when he said that the shorter version was better edited. But the director's cut gives Harvey, in his Jefferson Democracy speech, and Wayne's moving performance in Parson's death scene- perhaps their best and most evocative moments. It's uniqueness as a film effects us all with it's strength and weakness.

"The Alamo's" flaws are as gigantic as it's images. But it looks like no other movie has or will. One of a kind with an impact that is timeless. So let me be the 1,000th person to say that Mr. Harris should finally get the opportunity to make his 4K master of this epic so that Wayne's unique TOOD-AO achievement can be justified and preserved for future film loving generations to obsess about.
If only John Wayne had not been forced to STAR in it, on top of being producer AND director (which he felt he needed to be to realise his vision).. As it stands, the film definitely ain't bad. But imagine how much better it just "might" have been had he been more free to concentrate on his behind-the-scenes duties.
Anyway, great post, Capnvid.
 

OliverK

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If only John Wayne had not been forced to STAR in it, on top of being producer AND director (which he felt he needed to be to realise his vision).. As it stands, the film definitely ain't bad. But imagine how much better it just "might" have been had he been more free to concentrate on his behind-the-scenes duties.
Anyway, great post, Capnvid.
Hard to imagine the script being better if he only had directed.
I am definitely happy that he is in the movie as he has a presence that suits the movie very well, a larger than life actor for a larger than life story.
 
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Dr Griffin

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Well, if JOHN FORD, no less, thought the film was the "greatest picture I've ever seen", then I reckon that counts for something.
God knows the film was a labor of love for Mr. Wayne and his "personal magnum opus", so to speak. Not that this alone makes it worth saving, but it does sort of make it an essential piece of The Duke's legacy.... IOW, worth preserving.
They have preserved it. There is an HD version of the General Release for streaming/download and cable. This is MGM's idea of preserving. Apparently the roadshow footage they began "restoring" two years ago must be giving them a bit of a problem.
 

RolandL

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They have preserved it. There is an HD version of the General Release for streaming/download and cable. This is MGM's idea of preserving. Apparently the roadshow footage they began "restoring" two years ago must be giving them a bit of a problem.
We will have to wait till 7/12 to see if the roadshow footage is shown on TCM. I'm guessing its the same elements they used for the Laser Disc.

 
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Robert Harris

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It's interesting that although running times may be the same, the actual roadshow version has never been preserved, and has never been released on any home video format.
 
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Joseph Bolus

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They have preserved it. There is an HD version of the General Release for streaming/download and cable. This is MGM's idea of preserving. Apparently the roadshow footage they began "restoring" two years ago must be giving them a bit of a problem.
Actually, I just checked the main streaming services, and here are the results:
VUDU --- Only the 2004 Alamo is available.
Amazon --- "The Alamo" is available for streaming, but only at SD resolution. Of course, the DVD is still available at collectors prices. (I own the "General Release" DVD and MGM should be ashamed.)
iTunes --- "The Alamo" is available for streaming/download but only at SD resolution.

So, apparently, MGM is only providing the movie in HD form for syndication purposes.
 
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Dr Griffin

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Actually, I just checked the main streaming services, and here are the results:
VUDU --- Only the 2004 Alamo is available.
Amazon --- "The Alamo" is available for streaming, but only at SD resolution. Of course, the DVD is still available at collectors prices. (I own the "General Release" DVD and MGM should be ashamed.)
iTunes --- "The Alamo" is available for streaming/download but only at SD resolution.

So, apparently, MGM is only providing the movie in HD form for syndication purposes.
I've seen the HD version on cable, and I thought others had said it was available to stream. Thanks for clarifying.
 

Dr Griffin

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Though not a 100% accurate indicator, TIVO info has the TCM HD July 12 showing listed as letterbox, meaning standard definition. They similarly listed 20,000 Leagues like this, but it was clearly HD. I'm also getting two different times for this. While it is in a 3 hours and 30 minutes time slot, it's being listed at 2 hours and 42 minutes (not sure how that time was determined since it doesn't exactly match the various versions I've found listed). The General Release could be fit into a 3 hour time slot, so indications are it may be an extended cut(?).
 

JoeDoakes

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It's interesting that although running times may be the same, the actual roadshow version has never been preserved, and has never been released on any home video format.
I think you mentioned that at least once before. How did what was released back in the 90s differ from the actual road show?
 

Robert Harris

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I think you mentioned that at least once before. How did what was released back in the 90s differ from the actual road show?
The film was re-cut to work around damage done during the transfer. Wrong shots in the wrong places. it's a bit like being a little bit pregnant. Either something is, or is not, the Roadshow.
 

70 Millman

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Expanding in the post by Capnvid below is a link to a very positive review of "The Alamo" that really captures the greatness of this film, especially when seen in its original format, as I did when it ran in the U.K. at the Astoria in London. Going on and on about what some individuals perceive as its various deficiencies, signifies to me that these people can't get out of their heads and their own subjectivity. Carl Jung stated that "the world has sold its soul for a mass of disconnected facts." Never more true now (in the age of "information") than when Jung said that originally. "Bellyaching" (as Wayne would call it) because life (and movies, like anything else) ain't perfect, is a waste of time that disconnects us from the soul of "The Alamo". Like any film, it lives or dies, stands or falls, depending on what we bring to it from ourselves and our ability to get out of our heads and immerse ourselves in the rich cumulative experience it can deliver in its totality of light, sound, action, music and vision.

http://www.coolasscinema.com/2014/09/the-alamo-1960-review.html
 

RolandL

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Though not a 100% accurate indicator, TIVO info has the TCM HD July 12 showing listed as letterbox, meaning standard definition. They similarly listed 20,000 Leagues like this, but it was clearly HD. I'm also getting two different times for this. While it is in a 3 hours and 30 minutes time slot, it's being listed at 2 hours and 42 minutes (not sure how that time was determined since it doesn't exactly match the various versions I've found listed). The General Release could be fit into a 3 hour time slot, so indications are it may be an extended cut(?).
This is what Comcast has on their web site. 165 minutes within 3.5 hours.

alamo.jpg
 

OliverK

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The film was re-cut to work around damage done during the transfer. Wrong shots in the wrong places. it's a bit like being a little bit pregnant. Either something is, or is not, the Roadshow.
Sounds like the work done back then adhered to the same high standards that MGM is known for today.
 
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Robert Harris

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Expanding in the post by Capnvid below is a link to a very positive review of "The Alamo" that really captures the greatness of this film, especially when seen in its original format, as I did when it ran in the U.K. at the Astoria in London. Going on and on about what some individuals perceive as its various deficiencies, signifies to me that these people can't get out of their heads and their own subjectivity. Carl Jung stated that "the world has sold its soul for a mass of disconnected facts." Never more true now (in the age of "information") than when Jung said that originally. "Bellyaching" (as Wayne would call it) because life (and movies, like anything else) ain't perfect, is a waste of time that disconnects us from the soul of "The Alamo". Like any film, it lives or dies, stands or falls, depending on what we bring to it from ourselves and our ability to get out of our heads and immerse ourselves in the rich cumulative experience it can deliver in its totality of light, sound, action, music and vision.

http://www.coolasscinema.com/2014/09/the-alamo-1960-review.html
This is vitally true of The Alamo, and a handful of other large format films, that lose huge amounts of their currency, even when viewed in a quality 35mm print.

For The Alamo, it's full rez 70mm or 4K.

Forget about home video on Blu.

Possibly 4K projection, on a large screen.
 
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davidmatychuk

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"The Alamo" in the theatre earned its considerable "Wow" factor the old-fashioned movie way. John Wayne wanted to impress the audiences of the day, and impress them he did, with every state-of-the-art filmmaking weapon in the arsenal (plenty of real arsenal weapons too). I'm telling you, my parents never came home from any movie as impressed, sobered even, and we're Canadian!
 
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Dr Griffin

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This is vitally true of The Alamo, and a handful of other large format films, that lose huge amounts of their currency, even when viewed in a quality 35mm print.

For The Alamo, it's full rez 70mm or 4K.

Forget about home video on Blu.

Possibly 4K projection, on a large screen.
Be prepared to travel, because a Fathom or TCM limited event in the smallest theater in the mulitiplex just would not do.
 
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jim_falconer

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"The Alamo" is dramatically flawed. It was written by an alcoholic with some well written scenes scattered in an unwieldy structure that couldn't decide whether it was a TODD-AO epic or a sentimental action film.
You are doing a real disservice to Jimmy Grant, by dismissing him this way. He worked with Duke closely on his films from 1947 thru 1964. His writings of scenes helped establish Duke as one of the greatest American actors. And if I'm not mistaking, he was one of the leading proponents of the SC branch of AA, when he wrote the screenplay for The Alamo.
 
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