John Wayne's directorial debut The Alamo is set in 1836: Wayne plays Col. Davy Crockett, who, together with Colonels Jim Bowie (Richard Widmark) and William Travis (Laurence Harvey) and 184 hardy Americans and Texicans, defends the Alamo mission against the troops of Mexican general Santa Ana. There's a lot of macho byplay before the actual attack, including the famous "letter" scene in which Wayne craftily rouses the patriotic ire of his subordinates. Also appearing are Richard Boone as Sam Houston, and Chill Wills (whose somewhat tasteless Oscar campaign has since become legendary in the annals of shameless self-promotion) as Beekeeper. Wayne's production crew was compelled to reconstruct the Alamo in Bracketville, Texas, about a hundred miles from the actual site. Dimitri Tiomkin's score, including The Green Leaves of Summer, received generous airplay on the Top-40 radio outlets of America. Rumors persist that Wayne's old pal John Ford directed most of The Alamo; cut to 161 minutes for its general release, the film was restored to its original, 192-minute length in 1992.
by Hal Erickson synopsis