The Alamo

I worked into the early afternoon grading geometry homework.  I returned home and fell asleep during an episode of The Quest.  I heard about the death of Chuck Berry.  I went over to the record store and bought an ABBA CD for fifty cents, although the cover art was missing.  I tried to buy a ticket for “Love and Taxes,” but the seven o’clock showing was sold out, so I took the bus downtown and caught “La La Land” again.  I didn’t like some of the camera movements during the traffic jam number and at the swimming pool, but I still enjoyed watching the movie for the third time.  Back at home, I watched the John Wayne movie “The Alamo.”  It was supposed to be a statement about the Soviet Union and China.  He would become more direct and obnoxious several years later with “The Green Berets.”  John Wayne wanted to get Clark Gable and Charlton Heston for the cast.  A person that he did get was Richard Widmark, someone who couldn’t get along with him.  Frankie Avalon is around, too.  This was John Wayne’s first attempt at directing a movie, and his inexperience does show.  He’s not what you would call a great storyteller.  He isn’t too strong with showing the female characters.  Linda Cristal makes her appearance but then fades away.  A lot of the shots with the hordes of extras feel practically like still photographs.  It’s not like David Lean with his work on “Lawrence of Arabia.”  We’re at a distance from the action, and we can’t see a lot of what’s supposed to be going on.  Even John Wayne himself knew that the film ran too long.  This cut was 162 minutes, and it felt like almost twice that length.  I could have taken a nap and not missed anything.  Even though this movie was one of the Top 10 in ticket sales in 1960, it was perceived as a bomb.  It did cause financial problems for John Wayne because he put his own money into it, and he didn’t get it back until he sold the movie to television in 1971.  If the movie had won the Best Picture Oscar, he would have received the award because he was the producer.  “The Apartment” was the winner, however.  I couldn’t help thinking that John Wayne still looked full of life in 1960, but by the time of “True Grit,” his appearance wasn’t so good.  I’m not too sure that The Alamo was such a great subject for a movie, with its inevitable downbeat ending.  The heroes get wiped out.  The responsibility of directing the movie was probably overwhelming, and so the results are flat.  I don’t see this movie as being even on the level of something like “Donovan’s Reef,” which I seem to see on television all the time, much less “Stagecoach” and “The Searchers.”  Watching it after midnight reminded me of those old days when I used to watch the late show with Cal Worthington commercials.  Some of the people who died on March 20 include Chet Huntley (1974), Gil Evans (1988), and Georges Delerue (1992).  Today is a birthday for Holly Hunter (59), Spike Lee (60), and Carl Reiner (95).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 20, the pilot episode for “Police Story” had its premiere on NBC in 1973.  In 1987, “Street Smart,” starring Christopher Reeve and Morgan Freeman, was released.  In 1991, a jury awarded Peggy Lee $3.8 million in a lawsuit against Disney over the video rights to “Lady and the Tramp.”

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