THE ALAMO John Wayne's Dream Project.

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THE ALAMO John Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby AlamoMo on Fri Sep 19, 2008 9:21 pm

The Alamo, John Wayne's Dream Project.

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A MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION

A dream, which had it’s beginnings in the mid 1940’s, finally came to fruition on a hot summer’s day in 1957 when a bull dozer started up it’s engine and began to move a large hill of dirt on a portion of Happy Shahan’s 22,000 acre HV Ranch in Brackettville Texas. This mound of dirt would eventually become the mission compound which was used in the filming of John Wayne’s epic masterpiece The Alamo.

“I first thought of doing Alamo in 1946 and went down there to research,” Duke said. “I was at Republic at the time and when I left there they tried to steal the idea. They came up with The Last Command which was a quickie. Nuff said.” Wayne flew thousands of miles and visited multiple sites to try and find a location that would suit his purposes. From South America, to Panama to Mexico City, he was always on the look-out for property that would match the vision he had in his mind. No matter what project he happened to be involved with at the moment, whether it was The Three Godfathers or The Quiet Man or The Horse Soldiers or any of the other numerous films he made during the late 40’s and early to mid 50’s, he always had Alamo in the back of his mind. How to finance it, where to film it, which other actors should be involved and countless other details all had to be resolved before his project could get off the ground.

In 1948, the famed director John Ford visited San Antonio with John Wayne and indicated that Wayne would play the role of David Crockett while Ford would be involved in the project. “It may be a year before we start shooting scenes of the Alamo picture.” Ford said. Pat Ford, John’s son was already writing the script and the thought was that it was to be filmed in San Antonio. By 1950, the script was finished and now the plan was to film it in 1951. “Jack Ford has offered to help me with it and to direct the scenes in which I appear. What more help could a man ask?” The filming was tentatively scheduled to start in October of that year, once The Quiet Man wrapped up in the summer. The initial script had already been revised numerous times and was modified by Paul Fix and further rewritten by James Edwards Grant.

After Wayne completed the filming of Jet Pilot, he and his second wife Chata, flew down to Central America where he made a tentative search for potential locations for the film. By 1951, Wayne had submitted a copy of the script to the Censor Board of the Mexican Government. He followed that up with a visit to Sindicados at which time he gained permission to make the movie in Mexico. However, financial problems postponed the making of the movie at that time.

In June 1951, amid considerable publicity that Wayne and Republic Pictures would now film the story of this heroic battle in Mexico City due to economic considerations, R.J. O’Donnell (Vice-President and General Manager of the Interstate Circuit, one of the largest movie chains in Texas), Jesse Jones (Texas politician, publisher of the Houston Chronicle, entrepreneur and Secretary of Commerce under Franklin Roosevelt) and others went so far as to contact Herbert Yates, President of Republic to try and dissuade them from doing so. “To make the story of the Alamo in Mexico would be disastrous, in my opinion, and would be like making the story of Bunker Hill or the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia or any other of our patriotic stories in a foreign country,” O’Donnell implored.

By October of that year, the outrage of this direction was so great that Wayne had a change of heart. While in San Antonio as a part of a star studded publicity tour of Texas he indicated that when filming the movie, portions would be shot there if details could be worked out. “We hope to use the interior of the Alamo for some of our shots. We will use the chapel if they will let us.” But he also went on to say that to shoot this film locally would cost him “a million dollars more” than to make it in Mexico or California. Several years work had gone into the planning of this project and since that was going to be his first big picture, he was “not going to make a cheap job of it.” It appeared though that this response was just a way to potentially deflect criticism of an unpopular decision. William Saal, executive assistant to Herbert Yates, sent a letter to Mayor White of San Antonio, coyly skirting around the Alamo affair. “If we had known we weren’t going to start The Alamo until spring, we would have made a motion picture named The Golden Herd which was written by a Texan man and has its locale near San Antonio.” Eventually, the whole idea of filming a portion of the movie locally was dropped. The following year Wayne visited Peru to scout locations; although he didn’t find anything that suited his purposes, he did meet Pilar Weldy (Pallete), a young Peruvian woman who would eventually become his third wife.

After The Quiet Man was finished, Wayne was all set to make The Alamo in Panama where he had previously spent weeks scouting locations. The area was perfect and the country was in the midst of a depression, which would have made the cost more economical. As an added bonus, Wayne noted “there was a two-mile airstrip nearby that the Americans had built so transport would have been easy.” Herbert Yates demanded that Duke give up Batjac (Wayne’s production company) and make the picture for Republic. Not only that, he further requested that they postpone the starting date and cut the budget. Wayne believed that Yates “deliberately told some folks that I was shooting it in Texas…but now the Texans were angry with me. I had to go down there and square it with my Texas friends.” After having yet another fruitless conversation with Yates regarding the approval of this project, Wayne gave him an ultimatum. “You go through with this, Herb, or I won’t be on the set when you get back.” Calling his bluff Yates indicated that they could discuss it again in two weeks after Yates returned from a trip. Replied Wayne once more, “I want the okay right now or I won’t be here when you get back.” Yates refused to answer and just laughed. As soon as Yates left for his trip, Wayne packed up his stuff lock, stock and barrel and left the studio, never to return.

In early 1952, Wayne started pre-production work in Durango, but was forced to stop when informed that officials in the Mexican government, despite previously approving his script, might impede the project. After a month of expensive preparation, he was compelled to quit. “Wayne had made a million adobes down in Mexico,” said Happy Shahan. “But after he made ‘em, the Mexicans used ‘em more than he did.”

Happy had learned about the constantly postponed project and contacted Wayne to try and persuade him to film the movie in Brackettville Texas. When informed that the intention was to do it in Panama or Mexico, Happy expressed his doubts on the choice of location. “I can do it any god-damn place I want to,” bellowed Wayne. Once Wayne received a letter from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas stating that if he would film it in Mexico, it wouldn’t be shown in a Texas theater, he accused Shahan of putting them up to it. Although not taking responsibility for that action, Shahan did start a letter writing campaign called “Make The Alamo in Texas.” It was to take over two years and several conversations for Happy to convince Wayne to make the movie locally, but by 1957, all the pieces were in place and the long-delayed project was finally begun.

When asked why he felt so strongly about this project Wayne answered, “I deplore the type of garbage that’s being splashed on our screens today. I think it’s important for some agency in public life or communications to remind the world that once there were men and women in America who had the guts to stand up and die for things in which they believed in. This heroic story is not fiction. It happened only 124 years ago, and it belongs to people everywhere who have an interest in a thing called freedom. Davy Crockett said: ‘Without freedom you’re dead as a beaver hat.’”

" It can’t be said any plainer than that."

For further information on this subject, please refer to “Alamo Village – How a Texas Cattleman Brought Hollywood to the Old West” by John Farkis as well as his upcoming book, “Not Thinking, Just Remembering – The Making of John Wayne’s The Alamo as Told by the Cast and Crew” to be available in the fall of 2009.

My thanks to John Farkis for the above article.
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby NefariousNed on Sun Nov 02, 2008 4:25 pm

It's ironic how people in power, who should've known better, were decrying the fact that Wayne had wanted to film THE ALAMO in Durango, Mexico, even going so far as to suggest that it was unpatriotic. Well hey, dimwits, back in 1836, the Alamo was in Mexico. Durango would've been a wonderful location! It certainly provided a great backdrop for THE WILD BUNCH.

So Wayne had already cast 1,000,000 adobe bricks in Durango toward construction of the set when the plug was pulled? Pity, really, when you think how many of us would now be traveling to Mexico to see the remains of the Alamo set.( If any remains would yet be remaining, that is.) In Durango, it would've been just another old movie set; it is unlikely that anyone locally would have wanted to preserve it.

In the end, we must thank Happy Shahan for convincing Wayne to film in Brackettville. For we now have, after all these years, a place we can still visit, where the locals remain friendly enough, save for a certain trigger-happy Marshal.
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby wconly on Tue Nov 04, 2008 1:02 pm

Ain't it so? The Wayneamo is terrific and so was the movie -- even with the 'flaws!' But, I have yet to see a movie where there was not errors! W>
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby duke on Wed Nov 05, 2008 9:36 pm

Texas, the Alamo, and John Wayne, they just fit!!!
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby RLC-GTT on Wed Nov 05, 2008 11:29 pm

Nefarious wrote:In the end, we must thank Happy Shahan for convincing Wayne to film in Brackettville. For we now have, after all these years, a place we can still visit, where the locals remain friendly enough, save for a certain trigger-happy Marshal.


:cry:
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby RLC-GTT on Wed Nov 05, 2008 11:33 pm

As for the 1,000,000 adobe bricks in Durango, this detail in Happy's spiel in later years was "a quarter million adobe bricks." Referring to their Brackettville sets, he said "one-and-a-quarter million."
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby RLC-GTT on Wed Nov 05, 2008 11:37 pm

AlamoMo wrote: In June 1951, amid considerable publicity that Wayne and Republic Pictures would now film the story of this heroic battle in Mexico City due to economic considerations, R.J. O’Donnell (Vice-President and General Manager of the Interstate Circuit, one of the largest movie chains in Texas), Jesse Jones (Texas politician, publisher of the Houston Chronicle, entrepreneur and Secretary of Commerce under Franklin Roosevelt) and others went so far as to contact Herbert Yates, President of Republic to try and dissuade them from doing so. “To make the story of the Alamo in Mexico would be disastrous, in my opinion, and would be like making the story of Bunker Hill or the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia or any other of our patriotic stories in a foreign country,” O’Donnell implored.


Bob O'Donnell used to come down to the village all the time with Bob Hinkle (Texas technical director on Giant -- taught James Dean how to flip the "monkey's fist" rope knot). Bob even gave me some exhibition industry feedback on my B-Western Travis Smith. Real nice guy. Wish I'd have known about the John Wayne Alamo connection back then.
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby MUSTANG on Thu Nov 06, 2008 2:31 am

All ya gotta do is ask.
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby RLC-GTT on Thu Nov 06, 2008 3:24 am

Thaaaaaaanks!
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby Cole_blooded on Thu May 21, 2009 11:42 pm

From a list of the best of Westerns series by Lucas Huddleston, John Wayne`s The Alamo!

TED COLE....aka....Cole_blooded 8-)

Lucas Huddleston

#50. The Alamo (1960)

And with Number Fifty, we kick off the list with one of those ‘exceptions to the ground rules' that I mentioned last week, namely placing what could easily be considered a War film on the Westerns list…though, honestly, I wouldn't have made this particular exception if I felt that The Alamo didn't apply to being a Western. In fact (as you no doubt have already guessed), I believe that there's no other classification for the movie to fall under. The Battle for the Alamo, one of the most iconic battles in American history, was one of those mass events that would help to shape and mold the Old West and its peoples into what it was, and, almost immediately after word of the battle and its outcome spread back in 1836, the Battle for the Alamo would become more than a mere historical event – it would move on into the realms of legend and myth, much like a lot of the happenings and/or figures of that particular place and time. Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, William Travis…hell, even Santa Anna are no longer mere men. As I said last week, part of what makes the Old West the Old West is indeed the presumption that, really, when all is said done, the facts don't really matter all that much; the facts are overshadowed by the fantasy of it all. And much as how 1939's Jesse James was a film that chose to focus more on the fantasy than the facts of that particular legendary outlaw, so too does 1960's The Alamo represent not the facts of what happened on that particular day of March the 6th, 1836…it represents that fantasy, the myth, the legend that would be culled from that fateful day. By that same token, however, great pains were taken to recreate the physical aspects of the Alamo itself and the other sets for the film in order to amplify the act of depicting the event itself as epic as the myth itself, and the end result was as ambitious and glorious as any film of its kind produced in that era. As such, it's rather unfortunate that, during its own time, the film was leveled by struggles and criticisms, with most – if not ALL – of those condemnations directed at the film's star/producer/director…John Wayne.

The Alamo stands as being John Wayne's very first directorial effort, a labor of love that the Duke had had visions of creating dating back to as early as 1945, fifteen years earlier. Initially, the film was set to be developed by Republic Pictures, though clashes over the budget between the president of Republic and Wayne (who had obviously overseen the project through the Republic days), coerced Wayne to leave the project, though was unable to take his script and his then-vision with him (the film would go on to be rewritten and produced under the title The Last Command). Even after being forced to leave his vision behind with Republic, Wayne wasn't deterred, continuing to work on and develop what his Alamo film would and should be, and eventually forming his own film production company with producer Robert Fellows, a company named Batjac (named after a fictitious trading company in a 1948 Wayne-film titled Wake of the Red Witch). After the creation of Batjac, it wouldn't take long for Wayne to really put his plans for The Alamo in action, going so far as to declare himself the producer/director for the film so that his vision would remain untainted by the hands of others. However, the problems with the budget that came attached to such an ambitious undertaking reared its ugly head, much as it had done during the Republic years; as such, Wayne was able to broker a deal with United Artists to shoulder up one-half of the load, while he borrowed the rest of the money from wealthy businessmen based in Texas…all under the conditions that the movie be filmed in Texas with Wayne in the lead (he had originally intended to take the much smaller role of Sam Houston). Once all the sets had been erected and the area in which the shoot was to take place prepared (roads were created for the picture, and wells were sank in the area so that the cast and crew had water), more problems arose on set, amongst a few of which were: the attitude of Richard Widmark (who played Jim Bowie), who complained about Wayne's direction and tried to leave the film (though legal action prevented that); the murder of one of the actresses (LeJean Eldridge); and the appearance of vaunted Westerns director John Ford (who also directed Wayne to some of his best films) on the set, where he allegedly became a bit of a ‘back-seat director'. After filming was completed…well, things didn't get much better, as quite a few of the actors involved in the movie (most of which had been picked to take part in The Alamo due to their being personal friends with Wayne) blasted the film and Wayne, and quite a few critics also damned the film by claiming that Wayne had given the picture a slant in which to push his own political agenda. The film's cause wasn't helped by the poor attendance from the general public, and as such, when regarding the movie's high budget, led the film to being labeled as a flop. The lack of profit from the film also forced Wayne to pay out of his own pockets, which ultimately cost him a rather hefty amount of his own personal fortune.

Which is all sad, really. When John Wayne looked back on this film in retrospect and all the criticisms that it earned him from his friends and peers, I've often wondered whether he questioned it was worth all the thought, time, and money that he ultimately put into it. It's not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination; in fact, I think it's a great film. While Wayne's direction may have been criticized by his actors and a former director of his, the Duke does a fantastic job of capturing the epic feel of the event (no doubt as he learned a few things from working with Ford over the years), and all the acting is by far above average. The action sequences, particularly that of the final battle between the Texans and Santa Anna's Mexican Army are exceptionally envisioned and captured; in fact, I might even be inclined to say that, as a director, Wayne captured action even BETTER than that of Ford. And, of course, the film endears itself due to the same fact that a lot of critics once blasted it for: it plays up the legend of the Alamo wonderfully, though mainly in the actual event itself and not so much in the ‘whys' of the happening. Here, all the heroes of the film die noble and overly-heroic deaths. Jim Bowie, who was deathly ill, fights against all odds from his bed. Here, there's neither sight nor sound of the legendary Davy Crockett surrendering to the Mexicans, only to meet his death at execution; no, here, Davy Crockett gets pinned to the wall by a dozen bayonets, fights them all off, and sacrifices himself in order to explode the munitions dump in the Alamo. It's all wonderfully overblown and larger-than-life…much like the Old West itself is portrayed at times. There's really only one negative that I can say about the movie, actually; The Alamo is almost broken into two separate and distinct films: the first half of the film focuses on Crockett traveling to the Alamo and meeting other characters, and the second half takes place all in the Alamo. While the first part does indeed drag a bit, the second half is nothing short of excellent. :D
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby NefariousNed on Fri May 22, 2009 2:01 am

This is great, Ted! So John Wayne's Dream Project still has teeth, even after all these years.
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby TexianAtHeartII on Fri May 22, 2009 2:47 am

"Davy Crockett gets pinned to the wall by a dozen bayonets"

Wonder where the other eleven were.
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby gtj222 on Fri May 22, 2009 3:20 am

I thought it was a lance ;)
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby Dakota Jeff on Fri May 22, 2009 3:21 am

I wouldn't worry too much about Duke losing his personal fortune on The Alamo. As I understand it, the film did make back its original investment and then some, but it didn't bring in boat loads of profit. Batjac went on to make a number of other films that did exceptionally well at the box office after The Alamo. The film McClintock, for example, was the largest grossing film since Gone With the Wind. McClintock featured many of the same actors who had appeared in The Alamo such as Pat Wayne and Chill Wills.
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby Seguin on Fri May 22, 2009 2:15 pm

There's really only one negative that I can say about the movie, actually; The Alamo is almost broken into two separate and distinct films: the first half of the film focuses on Crockett traveling to the Alamo and meeting other characters, and the second half takes place all in the Alamo. While the first part does indeed drag a bit, the second half is nothing short of excellent.


I agree. I think that´s a correct evaluation. The first half do drag a bit but the second half is great.

So John Wayne's Dream Project still has teeth, even after all these years.


Or at least dentures... :D

- Nice article! Thanks, Ted...
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby AlamoMo on Fri May 22, 2009 5:46 pm

A really wonderful article Ted and some really interesting
points to boot Sir

Including this below, I have read that relations between Wayne
and Widmark were very strained and that was before starting to
work on The Alamo but this piece below well I cannot say I have
read about that before ????

" the attitude of Richard Widmark (who played Jim Bowie), who complained about Wayne's direction and tried to leave the film (though legal action prevented that) "

So is there much truth in it ??

Oh Mustang and Rich

Regards

Mo
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby garyzaboly on Fri May 22, 2009 6:26 pm

AlamoMo wrote:A really wonderful article Ted and some really interesting
points to boot Sir

Including this below, I have read that relations between Wayne
and Widmark were very strained and that was before starting to
work on The Alamo but this piece below well I cannot say I have
read about that before ????

" the attitude of Richard Widmark (who played Jim Bowie), who complained about Wayne's direction and tried to leave the film (though legal action prevented that) "

So is there much truth in it ??

Oh Mustang and Rich


Regards

Mo


No shock to learn all this, Mo. I have an old film magazine somewhere here that includes an article on Widmark's carreer, and in it he makes the dismissive comment, "I was appearing in this thing called 'The Alamo'...." Obviously he wasn't crazy about it being part of his resume.
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby NefariousNed on Fri May 22, 2009 6:50 pm

I know I posted this somewhere here, but it bears repeating...

BBC radio aired an interview with Richard Widmark on its March 7, 1997 edition of the program,
CLOSEUP. In the course of the interview, done at Widmark's Santa Barbara home, interviewer
Nigel Andrews brought up the subject of THE ALAMO.

Image

CLOSEUP: There was a recent biography of John Wayne that suggested that there were some
pretty huge---at least at the beginning of the movie---pretty huge personality conflicts between
you and Wayne. Did that happen?

WIDMARK: Well, we never got along personally. I respected him for what he did, his work, and
to this day, I love to see him in a Western, he's terrific. But as people, we didn't get along. We
didn't like each other. The first time I ever met Wayne, I'd just come out here and we went to a
friend's house, Ollie Carey, the widow of Harry Carey, the Western actor and mother of a good
friend of mine, Dobie Carey, Harry Carey Jr.. I went to her house and Wayne was there one night.
I'd just moved out there and I'd just made this picture, THE KISS OF DEATH and I walk in the
door and Wayne looked at me, he was half-smashed, and he says, "Wal, here comes that laughing
son-of-a-bitch!" Well, from that point on, (Widmark chuckles) we weren't exactly friendly.
We tolerated each other and when we worked, we were very professional, got along fine, never
any trouble. But we didn't like each other, politically, or personally.

CLOSEUP: Did you like the vision he was presenting of America in THE ALAMO?

WIDMARK: I thought it was ridiculous, you know, grade-school hogwash---and all wrong!

CLOSEUP: Did this make you hesitate to take the part?

WIDMARK: Well, I didn't want to do it, particulary, but I needed the job at the time. I really didn't
want to work with Duke, because we didn't like each other. But I went over one day to see him
before when they were talking about casting me. He was very nice. And he wanted me to play
Travis, the part that Larry Harvey played. And I said, 'no, I don't want to play that, I want to play
Bowie.' 'You're not BIG enough for Bowie'--he liked big guys. (Widmark chuckles) Big to him
was great. And I said, 'I'll be big enough.'
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby MUSTANG on Fri May 22, 2009 9:18 pm

That's true. Wayne wanted Robert Mitchum for Bowie, and Widmark for Travis. Widmark wouldn't go along with this, he said he had to play Bowie. As a result, Mitchum dropped out. I never heard that there were legal issues that forced Widmark to stay on. Although now that I think of it, after one blow-up between the two Wayne did say to Widmark that he (Widmark) had a contract and. by God, he (Wayne) was going to hold him to it. I need to find that reference.
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby Seguin on Fri May 22, 2009 10:24 pm

CLOSEUP: Did you like the vision he was presenting of America in THE ALAMO?

WIDMARK: I thought it was ridiculous, you know, grade-school hogwash---and all wrong!


I guess Widmark is referring to Wayne´s/Crockett´s Republic speech in the cantina, right?
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby Don on Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:52 am

Hey Everyone. I don't know if this is the place to post this but I think it fits here. Has anyone seen this recent review of The Alamo done on Aint It Cool News? There's a link below that will hopefully work to get you there. Done by a guy who is watching the movie for the first time I think. At the bottom of the article there are other links that take you to other movies he's reviewed. I particularly like the one for The Cowboys as well. If this has been posted somewhere else before, sorry. Just wanted to share it with you.

http://www.aintitcool.com/node/37348
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby Seguin on Fri Jul 31, 2009 12:35 am

Interesting review! He likes the Waynamo warts and all. Thanks, Don!

Final thoughts: While I say this movie is a little on the clunky side, with some iffy performances, it is still, by far, the most entertaining and involving movie about the Alamo I’ve seen (yes, this includes the incredibly dull IMAX movies).
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby NefariousNed on Sat Aug 01, 2009 10:21 pm

http://www.cvtreasures.com/.../john-way ... see-p-1873
John Wayne signed contract - THE ALAMO.


Anybody got $4,900 they don't need?
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby Seguin on Sat Aug 01, 2009 11:10 pm

Nefarious wrote:http://www.cvtreasures.com/.../john-wayne-alamo-signed-contract-must-see-p-1873
John Wayne signed contract - THE ALAMO.


Anybody got $4,900 they don't need?


signed by Wayne on the final page in blue ink, with the signature projecting a strong "9-10" appearance.


What´s that?

http://www.cvtreasures.com/authentic-ce ... see-p-1873
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby garyzaboly on Fri Jun 18, 2010 8:56 pm

From the Dallas Morning News, May 5, 1959:

DAVY CROCKET IS BIG BUSINESS.

Hollywood Calif. (AP)---Fess Parker has parlayed Davy Crockett into one of Hollywood's growing business empires.
The lanky Texan is tied up with Paramount in a 12-picture $2 million-dollar deal. He is a partner in Cascade Records Inc., a company which has recorded 30 songs and albums; he owns oil wells and grazing lands in Texas, and he has an estate in Santa Barbara and sails his own 46-foot yacht.
When John Wayne recently announced that he would play Davy Crockett in his own production of "The Alamo," Fess sent Wayne a coonskin cap with this inscription:
"I hope this does you as much good as it did me."
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby NefariousNed on Fri Jun 18, 2010 10:13 pm

garyzaboly wrote: When John Wayne recently announced that he would play Davy Crockett in his own production of "The Alamo," Fess sent Wayne
a coonskin cap with this inscription:
"I hope this does you as much good as it did me."

Now, that's cool! :D
The "OUTSIDE THE ALAMO, Songs of Ned Huthmacher Performed by John Beland" CD Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OutsideTheAlamo/
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby NefariousNed on Fri Aug 20, 2010 4:09 am

http://cgi.ebay.com/John-Wayne-Signed-A ... ltDomain_0

Got $5,500?

Looks like the name of the movie is typed THE ALASKANS. Could this be NORTH TO ALASKA?
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby MUSTANG on Fri Aug 20, 2010 5:14 am

Yes, "North to Alaska" was referred to as "The Alaskans." Note that Duke signed an agreement way back in 1956 to make that movie in 1959. Of course, The Wings of Eagles, Legend of the Lost, I Married a Woman, The Barbarian and the Geisha, Rio Bravo and The Horse Soldiers all got in the way I guess.
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Re: The Alamo Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby caplock on Fri Aug 20, 2010 6:20 am

MUSTANG wrote:Yes, "North to Alaska" was referred to as "The Alaskans." Note that Duke signed an agreement way back in 1956 to make that movie in 1959. Of course, The Wings of Eagles, Legend of the Lost, I Married a Woman, The Barbarian and the Geisha, Rio Bravo and The Horse Soldiers all got in the way I guess.


They might have changed the title because of the Warner Bros. TV series called "The Alaskans," which hit the airwaves well before the movie made it to theaters. The series, incidentally, starred Roger Moore, who went on to play the Saint and James Bond. It also featured Jeff "Mike Fink" York.
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Re: The Alamo John Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby gtj222 on Sun Oct 02, 2011 12:40 am

I've never seen this web site before, interesting:


The Making of The Alamo - Part 1

edited by John Hayes


At 8.20 A.M. on September 9th 1959, 52 year-old John Wayne called "action" on the set of the film that had taken him nearly 16 years to get made - more than a third of his career. The story of the Alamo had great resonance for Wayne. The way that, in 1836, a disparate group of Texans and Tenneseans, soldiers and civilians, stood off the 5,000 strong Mexican army of General Santa Anna for thirteen days in a ruined mission, and died to the last man in the process, summed up for Wayne what America was all about. For him it was simply a story that had to be told. From the time, in 1945, that he read Alamo commander William Barrett Travis' letter of appeal for help, sent during the period of the siege, Wayne's thoughts were never far away from that battle. The long struggle to recreate this piece of Texas history would cost Wayne dear; and though he would be forced to compromise his wealth and his career, he would not compromise his vision of the story of the Alamo. One way or another, it would be made. And it would be made his way.
First Attempt

In 1945, John Wayne was under contract to Herbert J. Yates' Republic Studios and he was also their biggest star. Wayne's contract, while giving him the freedom to appear in films for other studios, did not allow him what he sought most - artistic control. The only way for the star to achieve this would be to go behind the camera and produce. Eventually, Yates agreed to let Wayne produce a property of his own, and it was then that he proposed an Alamo film. Yates was quite cool towards the idea, having previously visited the subject in 1939, with the film, Man Of Conquest, a low-budget production of moderate success, and he was in no hurry to make another one. However, he continued to let Wayne make his plans and preparations for the Alamo project and Wayne continued to pull in the crowds at the box-office for the shrewd studio owner.

It's doubtful that Yates had any real intention of allowing Wayne's film to go forward, in spite of his constant assurances to the star. Rather it was just case of keeping his biggest money-maker happy whilst the bucks rolled in; and if ever an Alamo film was really planned at Republic during this period, it certainly wouldn't have been the one Wayne envisioned, because Yates was not prepared to put in the investment that Wayne was certain would be required to do it justice.

Some years previously, Wayne had struck up a friendship with screenwriter James Edward Grant, whom he had met through his long association with John Ford. The two hit it off immediately, with Grant's writing style perfectly suited to Wayne. The man known as "the miser with words" would advise the star on dialogue that would allow his powerful frame to "do his talking for him". Wayne brought Grant over to Republic in the forties and their first film together was The Angel And The Badman, in 1947, which was also Wayne's first attempt at producing. It was a modest success, and as they began to search for other projects, Wayne told Grant about his Alamo idea and the writer began work on a first draft of a script. Wayne, meanwhile agreed to do two pictures for Yates that were ostensibly showcases for Yates' girlfriend, Ruba Ralston. These wereDakota and The Fighting Kentuckian.

Around this time, John Ford came over to Republic to make The Quiet Man with Wayne. This proved to be a bitter experience for the director, who clashed constantly with Yates over budget over-runs and running time. He left vowing never to work for Republic again. Wayne meanwhile was still confident that Yates would keep his end of the bargain with regard to his Alamo film, and with Grant's announcement that he had completed the script, Wayne began searching out locations. Wayne realised that shooting in the U.S. would prove too costly, and fortunately he had found the perfect location in Panama. The landscape and vegetation matched perfectly and access was ideal - he had found an abandoned airfield nearby. He had even found suitable accommodations for the sizeable cast and crew that would be required. And another favourable factor was the labour costs - in Panama at that time; a man could expect 50 cents a day for work. This was now 1952 and the project had been on the boil for five years. Wayne now expected Yates to deliver the promised backing, but the studio head tried to put the star off once more. Wayne gave Yates an ultimatum: they either went ahead with it now or he would leave Republic. Yates did not believe him, and told Wayne to "Cut it out." Wayne moved his office out of Republic.

This made a bad situation even worse. Because Grant, who had left Republic with Wayne, had written the script while on the Republic payroll, that script belonged to Yates, not Wayne. Some time later, when tempers had cooled, Wayne indicated to Yates that he would still like to make the film, even though he was no longer with the studio. Yates didn't really want to spend the money, but he knew Wayne was desperate to make the film - and he wanted his star back at Republic. So, claiming the script was no good, he had it re-written and then told Wayne he could shoot the new version instead. Wayne took a look at the new script and refused

Yates eventually filmed the reworked script and released it in 1955 - as The Last Command, starring Sterling Hayden - probably to spite Wayne rather than because of any great desire to make the definitive Alamo movie.

Finance

Wayne formed a new company, Wayne-Fellows Productions, with Robert Fellows and signed a distribution deal with Warner brothers, whereby he undertook to star in several Warner pictures, and Warners, in turn, would distribute films that Wayne would produce for Wayne-Fellows Productions. Left out of the deal was the Alamo film. Warner Brothers did not want to commit to the Alamo project in any capacity, so Wayne reluctantly put the production on hold, indefinitely, while he concentrated on his new contractual obligations.

Wayne's association with Robert Fellows would be short-lived, lasting only two years; but during this brief period they would produce some memorable films. Among the total of seven completed were, Hondo, (in 3D); Big Jim McClaine; Island In The Sky, and the classic airplane movie The High And The Mighty, from Ernest K. Gann's best-selling novel. Fellows had no interest in Wayne's Alamo project, and in 1954 the pair agreed to go their separate ways after completing their last film together, Track Of The Cat. At the same time, Wayne and his friend Jimmy Grant fell out over some projects that Wayne had commited to, and they parted company also. Wayne bought out Fellows' half of the business, and hastily reformed the company, this time naming it Batjac Productions after the Batjack Trading Company in his film, The Wake Of The Red Witch - a secretary accidentally missed off the "k" when typing up the corporation papers - and once again threw himself back into work for the remaining two years of his contract with Warner Brothers. In this period he starred in The Sea Chase; Blood Alley, The Searchers, and, for RKO, The Conqueror. He was now America's number one box office draw and was earning around half a million dollars per picture. He was working at a furious pace to lay aside funds to get his Alamo film off the ground again, when Herbert Yates decided to put Wayne's original Alamo idea into production, using Grant's first script - which Yates, of course, still owned - and re-title it as, The Last Command. Though stunned at first, Wayne was somewhat relieved when Yates' low-budget version came and went quickly, and with very little real success.

Interestingly, The Last Command was actually shot in Texas, near Brackettville; a small town that had grown up alongside Fort Clarke, a military post that was established by the U.S. Army in 1852. When the fort was decommissioned in 1946, it was the cause of some anxiety among the local townsfolk, many of whom were dependent on the military installation for their living. There was also some ranching carried out in the area, and though the fort eventually became a hotel and tourist attraction (which it remains) additional industry would be required to sustain the population. James T. "Happy " Shahan, a local rancher with a holding of some 22,000 acres had thought for some time that the area would be highly suitable for the production of western movies, and had begun a one-man campaign to get Hollywood interested. By 1951 he had persuaded one studio to make a film there - Arrowhead - and three years later, Yates turned up with his Alamo film.

Less than impressed with Yates' cheapskate production, and its papier mache sets - Yates had continued to let people believe that this was the Alamo epic with which Wayne was identified by this time, although never actually claiming the star was involved - Shahan decided to call Wayne

Wayne listened to Shahan with great interest. He had been tentatively planning to shoot his film in Durango, instead of Panama, and had been negotiating with the Mexican government, off and on, over several years. He promised the rancher, however, that he would keep Brackettville in mind. Wayne was coming to the end of his contract with Warner Brothers, and was in discussions with them to renew it - but the studio were still adamant that they would not finance Wayne's Alamo picture. He eventually made a deal with United Artists, and while it would not be as lucrative as his Warner's contract, they gave him a commitment to distribute his film - and put up $2,500,000 towards the budget. A further stipulation was that Wayne would now take a main starring role in his film, and not the supporting role of Sam Huston as he had originally planned. He decided to take the role of Davy Crockett. He would also have to make concessions in percentages on the films he would make for United Artists. "I made a bad deal for myself because I wanted to do the film so badly," Wayne said later.

Wayne and Grant patched up their differences and the writer came back on to the project. Now, with an agreement to finance his film from United Artists, his writer working on a new script, all Wayne needed to do now was to secure additional private investment. For some time he had been pitching his film to several wealthy Texas oilmen, and had persuaded them to invest several million dollars in the production. Unfortunately, the rumour about the planned Mexico shoot had spread to some prominent Texans, who sent a letter to the Alamo in San Antonio. In their letter they stated that they would not support a film about the Alamo if it was shot in Mexico, and furthermore, they would not allow it to be shown in Texas cinemas.

A furious Wayne thought that "Happy" Shahan was behind the letter, and he immediately called the rancher in Brackettville. Shahan absolutely denied any involvement in the letter, and, in fact knew nothing about the controversy surrounding Wayne's proposed Mexican shoot. With tempers cooled, the two men began talking. Wayne realised now that filming in Mexico would be out of the question - he couldn't have a film about the Alamo boycotted by Texas theatres - so he told Shahan that he would be to looking at Texas locations, and would probably send his production manager down to Brackettville, shortly. Wayne realised that filming in Texas locations would add millions to the budget, but at the same time, a positive effect of the letter was that it put Wayne in a much better position to raise finance from Texas investors.
Wayne pointed out the universal appeal of the Alamo story and appealed to their patriotism. With him starring and United Artists locked in to a distribution deal, it couldn't fail - and the cheques. began rolling in. The October 24th 1960 issue of Variety published Wayne's final breakdown of outside financing: United Artists -$2,500,000 for ten percent of the profits; O.J. and I.J. McCullough - $3,000,000; Clint Murchison - $2,500,000; The Yale Foundation - $1, 500,000; with Wayne's Batjac Productions picking up the balance, making a probable total of $10,400,000.

After fifteen years of setbacks and disappointments production was now assured. All Wayne needed now was a location. He picked up the phone and called Shahan.

Pre-Production

Though the final cost would be more, Wayne's budget for The Alamo was set at $8,000,000, including $1.5 million towards set construction. In the summer of 1957 Wayne sent his production manager, Nate Edwards, to Brackettville to scout locations. Shahan offered to personally guide Edwards around the Kinney County area where Brackettville was located. Edwards approved of the Fort Clark facilities, as they would be able to handle a large cast and crew. However, after several days of searching for a suitable site - one that met all the requirements of camera angles, terrain, vegetation, and most importantly accessibility - they found nothing. Until the last day of Edward's stay, when, returning at dusk to the Ft. Clark Guest Ranch, Shahan suggested a detour to his ranch to check on some cattle. Pulling up on a hill overlooking Shahan's cattle, Edwards asked the rancher why he hadn't brought him to this place before. Shahan explained that he thought they would want to see the whole area rather than his ranch.
The next day, instead of flying back to Hollywood, Edwards went back and photographed the area from all angles to make up a 360 degree panorama. Shahan knew that Edwards was excited about the landscape as he left with his pictures on that Saturday afternoon. And exactly one week later on July 1st 1957, Wayne called Shahan to tell him he was flying down to see it for himself. "When?" said Shahan.
"Tomorrow", said Wayne.

Wayne arrived next day with his art director, Alfred Ybarra. They agreed with Edward's opinion that the site would be perfect, and Wayne immediately made arrangements with Shahan to lease the land. As Shahan was also a building contractor and supplier, he was also hired as general contractor for the set.
Ybarra had been hired by Wayne in 1951, when the star was still at Republic, and had worked on many of Wayne's pictures. A meticulous craftsman with a fine attention to detail, he would be responsible for the design of the Alamo mission itself as well as its neighbouring town of San Antonio. He estimated that they would require 400 of "Happy" Shahan's 22,000 acres for the production. And as he had been collecting plans for this project for the last six years, he knew well enough what the mission would look like. The town would be built half a mile north of the Alamo gates, rather than east as the original was. This was to allow for various camera angles and a more accurate representation of the lay of the land. Ybarra prepared paintings of the Alamo compound and its nearby town, San Antonio, for Wayne's approval; and while the design of the mission itself would be extremely accurate, Ybarra, who had "seen enough of those small Mexican towns", made up the look of San Antonio "completely out of my head". The search for authenticity led to an amusing comment from one observer: It had been planned to use genuine adobe bricks - around 400,000 for the Alamo itself and half as many again for the town false fronts. Adobe brick is a mixture of black dirt, manure and straw. After about a quarter of the required bricks had been made, the workers ran out of manure. Shahan found that he could substitute clay for the manure; and subsequently a two-acre hole, fifteen feet deep was the result of digging the clay. Pointing out the hole during one of many conducted tours of the set between filming, Shahan proudly told the visitors of his brilliant substitution, prompting the reply, "I thought you Texans never ran out of bullshit."

It was officially announced in January 1958 that Brackettville was the location for the film. Construction now began in earnest, concentrating on the church, hotel and cantina, which would require interior shots and therefore had to be complete structures. One scene would call for a shot of the basement of the church. To save costs, instead of digging a hole for the basement, Ybarra simply added an extra room to the church with a flight of stairs going up as if to the bell-tower. In the film, when the actors walk down the steps it gives the appearance of them walking down into the basement.

A set-back occurred four months into construction. Torrential rain hit the set, putting it under three feet of water and washing away 50,000 adobe bricks that had been drying in the sun. Belatedly, drainage ditches were dug, but work had slowed to a crawl. Wayne then had another major problem with his former partner Robert Fellows, who was demanding final payment on Wayne's buy-out deal over Wayne-Fellows Productions. Wayne had to come up with $3,000,000 immediately. This left him with a severe cash-flow problem as his salary was paid out over a period of time to offset tax liabilities. Construction could not be resumed until his paycheck from the studio arrived.

Shahan felt that if construction were halted it may never resume, and he had begun to see possibilities in what was being built on his property. If the town were a solid construction rather than made up of false fronts, he would probably be able to pull in other western film productions and possibly have a viable tourist attraction as well. He suggested to Wayne that if he would continue to finance the original one-sided buildings as originally agreed, Shahan would borrow the money to build three other walls and a roof for each building, making them complete. He also offered Wayne an option to buy into his scheme at a later date. Wayne agreed and work continued, though it was now looking more like a mid-1959 start date for shooting.

Because of the Wayne-Fellows business, Wayne committed himself to a heavy workload in 1958,completing The Barbarian And The Geisha, in Japan in February. He started Rio Bravo for Howard Hawks, in May and when that wrapped in July, he went on to complete The Horse Soldiers for John Ford, from October to January 1959. He intended to devote the whole of 1959 to The Alamo.
Wayne had hoped to make the whole film on location, but had found that several of the building interiors were not really suitable for what he had in mind. Alfred Ybarra came to rescue again, finding an airplane hangar at the old Ft. Clark airport and obtaining permission to build the required interiors inside, turning it into a sound-stage.

The logistics of the final phase of pre-production were staggering because of the proposed size of the production. Transportation of people and equipment from Hollywood to Brackettville had to be carefully planned far in advance, and resulted, in addition to plane flights, the leasing of twenty nine Ford Edsels; thirty four passenger buses with 64 full-time drivers. Forty two camera & equipment trucks were required, and though some were owned by Batjac, many were leased from Samuel Goldwyn Studios. The cost of transporting cast, crew, equipment and press visitors to and from Hollywood would come to some $650,000, with on-location costs around $200,000. Also a runway was built on Shahan's ranch so that film could be rushed to San Antonio or Dallas, and then on to Hollywood for processing. When shooting began, planes would be in the air constantly flying film back to Hollywood for printing, and then back to Brackettville so that Wayne could view the "rushes".

Costumes & Equipment

Ybarra's sketches for the military uniforms were passed to costumers Frank Beetson and Ann Peck so that they could begin the awesome task of assembling the huge numbers of outfits required for the Mexican Army. At the time of the battle, there were twelve different types of uniform in use by the Mexicans, and some of these were recreated by using Japanese army surplus uniforms from World War II, the khaki colour of which was an almost perfect match for some of Mexican Army uniforms. Money was saved by having many of the uniforms fitted with draw-strings to avoid individual fittings.
As there were no contemporary illustrations of the Texan Army uniforms, Ybarra based his designs on Civil War uniforms, and these would be coordinated with each actor and Frank Beetson after signing for the film. All the costumes for The Alamo were made by Western Costumes of Los Angeles, and leased to Batjac.

For armaments, Ybarra again returned to his Civil War references, and commissioned a San Antonio firm to build forty two wooden cannons out of redwood. Most of these were about eight feet long, but two "Mexican Long Toms" were constructed of balsa wood and these were more than thirteen feet in length. In addition, several redwood mortars were built, around four feet long. They were all fired using gas cylinders. After filming was completed, they were sold to the "Old Tucson" film-site, where they remain on display today.

Rifles were another problem. The principal characters would have authentic firearms of the period, but finding a few thousand percussion-cap rifles for the Mexican Army was never going to be easy. Eventually, George Ross, Batjac's military arms advisor, was able to find enough trap-door Springfield rifles in various Hollywood prop-shops. By attaching bayonets and artificial locks to them, they would look reasonably correct, and would still be able to fire blanks. Fifteen gunsmiths were hired to keep the weapons functioning throughout filming. Wayne's rifle was an exact replica of Crockett's original, and at the time of filming, was over 100 years old.

Finding horses was proving unexpectedly difficult, too. The problem was, that westerns were extremely popular on TV in 1959, and most of the specially trained animals were being used on them. Head wrangler, Bill Jones eventually put together the 500 horses and 100 mules that would be needed, by scouting as far as Oklahoma and Arkansas, though some were hired from local ranchers. Of course, the real work began when the animals were assembled, as they all then had to trained to ignore gun and canon fire. Not one animal was hurt or injured on the production, and eventually, the newly trained herd was sold off to local ranchers and realised a small profit.

Catering for the enormous cast was a tremendous undertaking, with meals having to be provided for up to two thousand people daily, on the open prairie. By the end of production, food and logistics had run to well over $300,000 and 192,509 meals had been prepared and served - the largest film catering job up to that time.

Back in Hollywood, Wayne was planning the production down to the smallest detail. Using story boards, he would work out exactly where and when each scene would be shot, what camera angles would be used, and even what stunt-work would be required. A good example of this would be the production department bulletin for the final assault on the mission, which listed one hundred set-ups for a screen running time of fifteen minutes. Wayne had prepared so thoroughly that, by the start of filming, any reference to the script by him was a formality.

Meanwhile, back at the site, Ybarra had six wells dug to provide fresh water for the huge numbers of people working on the film. Wayne had also instructed him not hire portable toilets, as was usual, but to install permanent rest rooms inside the houses in the town set, and in even the Alamo itself.
Throughout 1958 and 1959, Wayne had worked at a tremendous pace, but he gave full credit to his Batjac production staff for their tremendous efforts on his behalf. He had assembled one of the finest production units in Hollywood, on which he would come to rely heavily for their knowledge and guidance. In particular, he would rely heaviest on his eldest son, Michael, then a 24 year-old fresh out of college and the Air Force. It was his first job on a film - his title being, assistant to the producer, - and an extremely tough one to learn the trade on. Wayne was sure that his son would be capable of doing the job, and he was proved correct.

With construction and preparation nearing completion, Wayne and his team could now turn to the next major decision: casting.

Casting.

At the start of 1959, Wayne had a good idea of which actors he would use in secondary roles; regulars from his past movies, like Hank Worden, Chuck Roberson and Ken Curtis could be relied upon. And as far back as 1956 he had discussed the role of Flaca, Crockett's love-interest, with Argentinian actress, Linda Cristal. More problematic were the other two principal characters, Travis and Bowie. (Wayne was committed to play the Crockett role because of his financial deal with distributors, United Artists.) William Holden, with whom Wayne had become good friends in the early fifties, was considered for the role of Jim Bowie. They had wanted to make a film together and both had their own production companies. They eventually appeared in The Horse Soldiers, but were unable to match schedules and shooting arrangements for The Alamo, so Holden pulled out. Rock Hudson was attached to the project for a time, according to the press, for the role of Travis. Wayne let the rumour circulate for a time in order to benefit from the publicity, but in fact, Hudson was never seriously considered for part. He would, however work with Wayne some years later in The Undefeated.

Hearing about a newcomer from England, Laurence Harvey, Wayne met him for dinner one evening in May. Also there was veteran John Ford whose opinion Wayne valued highly. A very nervous Harvey began to discuss his acting credentials, mentioning his work at the Old Vic and his approach to his craft. Wayne interrupted Harvey, saying," Don't give me all that shit about art. I'm up to my shoulders trying to get this picture together." He then went on to describe the part of Travis to a stunned Harvey. Ford, who had been sitting very quietly, observing Harvey and saying nothing, turned to Wayne and said," Don't bother telling him about the part, Duke, we haven't got much time. Just sign the bastard up."

Although he had become one of Britain's most popular stars during his ten-year career in England, Harvey was in fact, born in Lithuania on October 1st 1928, and moved with his parents to South Africa as a small child. At the age of 14, he joined the Royal South African Navy by lying about his age, serving for several months until his mother located him, and he was discharged for being underage. When he was 17, he lied about his age again, and joined the army. He was discharged from the army in 1946, at the age of 18. With an educational grant from the government for his military service, he enrolled in the Royal Academy Of Dramatic Art, which he left after three months, feeling that he'd learned enough about acting, and joined a professional theatre company. He worked in stage and film - an early film role was in the CinemaScope production, King Richard And The Crusaders, and he was eventually nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the 1958 production, Room At The Top.

With the Travis role filled, Wayne turned his attention to the role of Jim Bowie. One actor whose name was attached to the role briefly was James Arness, who had worked with Wayne several times before - in fact Wayne had suggested Arness for the role which would make him famous, Marshall Matt Dillon in TV's Gunsmoke series, after Wayne had turned it down himself. Again, he was never a serious contender for the role of Bowie. Charlton Heston's name began circulating in connection with the role also, although he had actually been offered the cameo role of Sam Houston, a role he would be unable to take because of prior commitments.

With William Holden unavailable, Wayne second choice for the role was an actor whose work Wayne had long admired: Richard Widmark. Born on December 26th 1914, in Sunrise, Minnesota, Widmark had been a drama teacher in the late 1930's before heading for Broadway. Working in radio, he became a regular on several soap operas, as well as appearing on the Broadway stage, through the 1940's. Initially rejected by director Henry Hathaway for the role of giggling psychopath, Tommy Udo in the 1946 film Kiss Of Death, Widmark was offered the role anyway by studio head Darryl F. Zanuck. It was this role that catapulted Widmark to stardom; memorable for the scene where he pushes an old lady in a wheelchair down a flight of stairs to her death. Widmark agreed to appear as Bowie, and a delighted Wayne inadvertently upset his co-star by taking out an ad in one of the trade magazines, saying "Welcome aboard, Dick." The irate star is said to have told Wayne, "The name is Richard, not Dick"

With casting of his principals secure, Wayne turned next to the supporting roles. The Sam Houston cameo was taken by Richard Boone, a household name, thanks to appearances in TV's Medic, and subsequently as the gunfighter for hire, Paladin, in the classic western series, Have Gun-Will Travel.

As mentioned previously, the role of Flaca, the beautiful Mexican girl, was given to Linda Cristal as she was Wayne's first and only choice for the part. Born in Argentina, of a French mother and an Italian father, she had made over a dozen movies in Mexico. Under contract to Universal International, she had appeared in several major U.S. films., but her role in The Alamo would be her most important up to that time. She would eventually go on to star in the popular T.V. western series, The High Chapparal.

The other major female role, "Mrs Dickinson", went to former singer, Joan O'Brien. She had worked on Bob Crosby's daytime television show before going into movies, and had just co-starred in Operation Petticoat with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis. She was offered the role, as one of the Alamo survivors, after meeting Wayne at a party. She said his description of the film's ending, with her character walking through the ruins of the Alamo into the sunset, was so vivid that she couldn't say no.

Her character's husband, Captain Dickinson, Travis' aide, went to Ken Curtis, a long time member of Wayne's unofficial repertory company, being married to John Ford's daughter, Barbara. An accomplished country and western singer, he was a veteran of many Wayne/Ford movies, including The Quiet Man, Wings Of Eagles, The Searchers and The Horse Soldiers.

To appeal to the teenage audience, pop idol Frankie Avalon was cast as "Smitty", the young boy who rides with Crockett's Tennesseans into the Alamo, but is sent to fetch help before the final battle, thus surviving the massacre. A hugely popular singer, Avalon had made his movie debut in 1959 in Guns Of The Timberland, with Alan Ladd. He started work on The Alamo two days before his 19th birthday.

Two members of the Wayne family were also included in the cast. Wayne's son Patrick took the role of James Butler Bonham, a Texan soldier. He too was a veteran of several Ford movies, including The Long Grey Line and Mister Roberts. He also appeared as the young cavalry lieutenant in The Searchers.
Cast as the daughter of Mrs Dickinson, was three-year-old Aissa Wayne. Wayne's wife, Pilar, was reluctant to allow their child to appear in a film until she was old enough to decide for herself about an acting career. Wayne was able to persuade her when he pointed out that they would all be on the location anyway.

Final Preparations

Though they had been working on the project for 13 years, Wayne was still not happy with the 106 page script. He asked Grant to do a rewrite. Then another. And then another…until the final version of the script - 12 rewrites later - which by then had grown to 156 pages.

While Grant was reworking the script, Wayne was considering the film format he would use. Over the years, he had looked at several of the new processes that were being developed in Hollywood. 3D had appealed to him because it seemed the natural process to use for an action film. He had shot Hondo in 3D, but then had second thoughts about the glasses that were needed to view the 3D films, considering them uncomfortable and impractical. Deciding that 3D was just a fad, he ordered that Hondo be released in "flat " versions only.

He was most impressed with Todd-AO (see the Todd-AO feature) feeling that the big screen and wide-angle photography would be particularly suited to his story.

Wayne chose William Clothier as his cinematographer. A former aerial cinematographer, he had first worked for Wayne in that capacity on The High And The Mighty. He had shot several films for Wayne since then, but had never worked in 65mm, so he spent the month prior to shooting, testing and familiarizing himself with the equipment, and also working out how many cameras would be needed to capture the story on film. He considered that six cameras would be required, with an operating crew of 18 cameramen. Apart from the help that Clothier received from Todd-AO inc., Batjac's casting director, Frank Leyva, had worked on Mike Todd's Around The World In Eighty Days, and so was familiar with the requirements of the system. His help proved invaluable.

Sound recording on The Alamo would prove to be a challenge. Wayne wanted the sound to be as realistic as possible, that is to say, recorded at the time of filming with as little post-synching as possible. A basic group of five men would handle the complex task: Jack Solomon, head sound engineer; Harry Alphin, recorder; William Flannery, boom man; Al Yaylian, boom man and Al Boyle, cable man. These five would eventually be joined by another four, as the filming of the battle scenes got under way, making them the largest sound crew ever assigned to a location.

End Of Part One

Click here for Part Two: Shooting, Post Production, Premiere and Restoration.

The principal source for this article is the excellent book, John Wayne's The Alamo …The Making Of The Epic Film, by Donald Clark and Christopher Andersen, which contains so much information about this remarkable film that both parts together of our version merely scratch the surface. No John Wayne fan, or Epic Movie enthusiast should be without this incredible book in their collection. Full details can be found in our Recommended Reading section, along with some other John Wayne literature that is worth a serious look.

J.H

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Re: The Alamo John Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby gtj222 on Sun Oct 02, 2011 12:44 am

The Making of The Alamo: Part II


edited by John Hayes

Filming Begins.

GO TO THE PREVIOUS PAGE FOR PART ONE.

August 21 st 1959 saw the release of the master shooting schedule. Production shooting was set to begin on Wednesday September 9 th, but some pre-production shots were scheduled to commence on Friday 4 th September. These would be scenes showing the Mexican army on the move; columns of men and horses, with cannons and equipment etc. This was really second unit filming but Wayne was on hand to direct. One of the shots required the camera to be positioned in the middle of a river while the Mexican army went around it. Unfortunately one of the teams of galloping horses crashed straight into the unit sending the camera into the river. The camera was recovered safely, in spite of several crew members receiving electric shocks - and that shot is still in the finished film.

The schedule and script contained a total of 566 scenes, and Wayne had planned 66 days of shooting, finishing on Tuesday November 24 th and returning to Hollywood the following day. The cast had begun to assemble and by Monday 7 th September, most of the principals were on the set, with the rest arriving during the following two weeks as the schedule required. Widmark had arrived a few days earlier and accompanied Wayne on the pre-production shots.

On the morning of the 9 th, Wayne strode out to the set and called, “Action!” – a command he had waited fourteen years to give. The first set-up was scene 4, “Huston column enters Bexar”. This was followed by scene 5, after which, Wayne called “Save it!” The company broke for lunch, but not before Wayne was presented with a huge cake, in the shape of the Alamo, to celebrate his achievement in setting up the production. A delighted Wayne used Harvey's sword to slice up the cake as pieces were passed round to the crew. The remainder of the day were spent shooting various street scenes involving Boone and Harvey.

On day two, the crew moved to the “sound stage” in the airplane hanger at Ft. Clark. Temperatures were almost unbearable inside at that time of year, especially with the hangar doors having to be kept closed to keep out noise. Wayne worked quickly to complete the interiors so that the crew could move outside again, but he was also working against the fact that Boone had a tight schedule because of his TV show commitments.

Widmark shot his first scenes on Friday 11 th, and ironically, part of these scenes would be among the first to be cut from the film after release, and would remain “lost footage” for nearly thirty years.

Late on the following day, Wayne heard the disastrous news that Happy Shahan's daughter had been critically injured in a car crash – a head-on collision with a car driven by two Alamo crew members. A shocked Wayne rushed to the hospital in San Antonio to offer what support he could. He would return many times over the next few weeks until eventually he was relieved to hear that she would recover. He had become very close to the Shahan family, and the accident had shocked him deeply. The entire cast and crew helped to cheer her up with cards and visits, etc., and tensions were relieved somewhat with the arrival of Frankie Avalon, a few days later. The entire Brackettville High School turned out to greet him, and as it was his 19 th birthday on the 19 th September, a surprise birthday party was arranged for him in the Brackettville High School gym.

With Shahan's daughter recovering, Wayne resumed shooting; switching to night-time filming towards the end of the month. At that time it was usual to shoot night scenes in daylight, a process known as day-for-night, or “D/N”, and use a combination of filters, exposures and special processing to a achieve the look of a “night-time” scene. Wayne, however, wanted the night scenes to be actually shot at night. This created a tremendous problem for the cameramen because of the limited space for additional lighting equipment inside the three-dimensional sets. The negative film available required 300 foot- candles of light, and it was not until halfway through the night shooting schedule that 150 foot- candle negative became available, easing the problem somewhat.

Tragedy

Meanwhile, Frank Leyva, the casting director, was assembling extras for the crowd scenes, selecting certain people for small speaking roles. Unwittingly, he set another tragedy in motion when a travelling stock company, The Hollywood Starlight Players, applied for parts in the film. They were hired as extras, and after individual auditions, one of the group, an actress named Lagene Etheridge, impressed sufficiently enough to be given a small but important role as one of the frontier mothers. As she had a speaking part, her accommodation was at Ft. Clark, while the rest of the Theatre Group were lodged in the small town of Spofford, some twenty miles south of Brackettville. Etheridge threw herself into rehearsals for the role over the next few weeks, resulting in little contact with her theatre group, including her boyfriend, fellow actor Chester Harvey Smith. Wayne was impressed with her performance and her scene, 122A , was shot in a single day. Wayne asked her to stay on for publicity shots and interviews, which she agreed to. Unfortunately, her boyfriend was rapidly losing patience with her continued stay at Ft. Clark, and demanded that she return to Spofford with him. A fight ensued, and she returned to her apartment at Ft. Clark. Later that evening, Smith , armed with a Bowie knife, tracked her down, and when she opened the door, stabbed her in the chest. She died a few minutes later.

This tragic event threw things into turmoil. They were five weeks into shooting, and with a budget of $60,000 a day, Wayne couldn't afford to let this juggernaut of a production grind to a standstill. Shooting continued around the police investigation, and was hampered by the press digging into Smith's past, revealing a history of violence. All of this added to the spiralling pressure on Wayne and his publicity department, as they found themselves answering more and more questions about the murder, rather than the film.

Eventually, as Etheridge's employer, Wayne was forced to give a deposition in Brackettville. After plea-bargaining arrangements, Smith received a twenty year sentence for his crime.

Harvey, Widmark and John Ford.

With the tragic memory of Lagene Etheridge behind him, Wayne plunged on with the production, though not without further incidents. The first was a fire in the publicity department offices at Ft. Clark, resulting in the loss of many important payroll and publicity files. The next incident occurred during filming of the scene in which Travis replies to Santa Anna's ultimatum with a cannon shot (scenes 154-161). Wide shots were completed on the mission roof, and then the crew moved over to the replica of the upper portion of the mission, which had been built off to one side, to film the close shots. Harvey went through his lines again, fired the cannon and held the look of determination on his face as Wayne had directed. It was only when Wayne called “cut”, and Harvey collapsed in pain, that they realised that the cannon had rolled over the actor's foot! Harvey – the consummate professional – had held the expression until the cameras had stopped rolling. Wayne ordered, ”Get him the hell to hospital”. But Harvey refused to go. Instead, calling for a bucket of hot water and a bucket of cold, he proceeded to dip his injured foot first into one, then into the other. He called this “the hot and cold treatment”, which he kept up for the rest of the day. With his foot bandaged for longer than it might have been had he gone to hospital, Harvey was able to continue filming and complete his scheduled scenes on time.

Harvey was able to bring much comic relief to a set that had been dogged by more than its fair share of disasters, and Wayne became genuinely fond of the actor. By contrast the relationship with Widmark was less cordial. Nevertheless, although they were never close, Wane had tremendous respect for the actor's abilities. Stories circulating that the two actors became involved in an argument that resulted in Wayne throwing Widmark against a wall, were not true. Wayne, in fact found the actor to be extremely helpful, and his contribution to the production was much appreciated.

Widmark's reputation amongst the crew for being aloof and abrupt, actually stem from the fact that he is deaf in one ear, and very often would not hear someone speaking to him, or would be startled when someone approached him on his deaf side.

Wayne became somewhat anxious, a few weeks into shooting, when his old mentor, John Ford, arrived on the set for a “visit”. The problem was that Ford had been very helpful during pre-production, being able to advise Wayne on many aspects of the production; casting, location and finance, etc. But Wayne was also aware that he would have been able to get The Alamo shot years ago if he would have agreed to have Ford as the director. He was concerned that once the director arrived on the set he would begin taking charge – which proved to be exactly the case. Within ten minutes of Ford arriving, he was bossing the crew about and telling Wayne what to do.

Wayne was uncertain how to deal with Ford; he didn't want to hurt the director's feelings, but he didn't want to loose control of his film either. He discussed the dilemma with William Clothier and Michael (Wayne). Clothier suggested asking Ford to direct some second unit footage. Feeling this might work, Wayne did just that, and the following day, Ford went off with some extras and a crew. Wayne also gave Michael instructions not to let Ford talk to any of the principal actors.

Ford realised what Wayne was up to, so to get his own back, for the next few days he shot everything with the action to one side of the wide frame, making the footage unusable. Later on, both Wayne and Ford would state publicly that none of Ford's footage was used in the finished film, but actually it was. This was probably done to clarify the fact that it was Wayne's film, not Ford's. Ford actually shot some of the battle scenes, and also the following: scene 104 – the church basement; scene 136 – Crockett meets Jocko and Blind Nell, and scenes 91-92 - where Crockett offers to help Flaca at their first meeting. But in each case, the scenes were set up as Wayne wanted them.

The production had survived a murder and a fire – hardly normal events on a film set – but they had got through it all. There were still a few dialogue and night scenes to finish, plus a television special, but as they approached November 1 st, everyone was looking forward to shooting the battle scenes, where the full scale of this mammoth production would be seen.

They were slightly behind schedule, due to the problems they had faced, and pressure on Wayne began to increase. In one instance, a mistake by a technician caused a further delay, causing Wayne to flare up and chew the man out in front of the crew. Later, Wayne found out that the man was worried about his wife, who was in hospital back in Hollywood. He told the crewman to hop a ride on the plane that was taking the rushes back to the studio, and “Don't come back until your wife is well”. Wayne also paid the hospital bills.

The Battle and “It's a wrap”

While Wayne was putting the finishing touches to some dialogue scenes, stunt co-ordinator, Cliff Lyons and special effects man Lee Zavitz, were preparing to film the battle scenes. The stuntmen were rehearsing horse falls, sword fights and various other moves necessary to get the realism that Wayne had planned for this film. Web Overlander, the chief make-up technician, ordered more than 20 gallons of fake, “movie” blood!

The untrained extras,more than 2,300, were transformed into a believable, trained army in three weeks by the remarkable Jack Pennick. This former marine corps drill instructor, along with Cliff Lyons, had been associated with Wayne and Ford for years. Lyons had been a stuntman since the days of silent film, and Pennick had served with Ford in WWII. They made a formidable team as they whipped the men into shape. Pennick took charge of the infantry, while Lyons, known as “mother” to those who worked with him, handled the cavalry. Jack Pennick appears in the film as Sgt. Lightfoot. Another of the stuntmen on The Alamo was Bob Morgan, who was married to actress Yvonne De Carlo - a regular visitor to the set. A couple of years later, Morgan would suffer horrific injuries after a stunt went wrong during the filming of the railroad sequences in How The West Was Won.

Wayne had actually shot some of the battle scenes, back on October 22 nd, but had stopped at that point to resume night shooting. It would also gave them time to shoot a TV special, before the mission set was destroyed in the battle.

The night scenes were completed on Friday November 13 th, and the TV crew moved into the compound. This would be the first time a videotape production had been made on a motion picture location. It would be an hour- long show, for ABC, that would be aired during the 1960/61 season. Sponsored by Pontiac, it was budgeted at $300,000, and had a twenty nine man crew working out of Los Angeles TV station KTLA. The finished documentary was narrated by Richard Widmark, and was called, The Spirit Of The Alamo.

The battle scenes were due to begin filming on November 16 th, but Wayne had received news from United Artists that the film was close to running over budget. Another $400,000 would be needed, and United Artists said that they didn't have it. At this stage of the production, Wayne had no choice but to pay the money out of his own pocket. It would later emerge that United Artists lied to Wayne, and that they did actually have the funds.

Filming began, and it was during these scenes that Wayne's directing skill became apparent. Most critics still agree today that The Alamo's battle scenes are some of the finest ever captured on film.

It was on the cold morning of December 15 th that Wayne called “cut” for the final time, after three and a half months of filming and fourteen years of planning and preparation. A weary, but satisfied Wayne took his family back to Hollywood for the last time. Clothier and Lyons remained behind for a few days to finish up some second-unit footage. Wayne, meanwhile, was ready to start editing the 560,000 feet of film into his dream of, The Alamo.

Post-Production.

After a brief rest, Wayne and his editing team, headed by Stuart Gilmore, began the awesome task of piecing together the thousands of feet of exposed film. This was expected to take several months, and at this time, the planned date for the premiere was sometime in August 1960.

Wayne had contracted Pacific Title to prepare a series of watercolour paintings for the opening credits, and these were ready by the end of January.

As the film was being put together, Wayne became aware of rumours that the Mexican government were not too pleased with the way the Mexican army were being portrayed in the film. It was felt that they were being presented as the villains, or at least, in a bad light. In spite of the fact that Grant had written dialogue into the film where certain characters praise the soldiers of Santa Anna, this problem would never be resolved. The Alamo was banned in Mexico in September 1960, and has never had a theatrical release there.

The next few months for Wayne would prove to be hectic. As well as supervising the editing, he had agreed to undertake a series of personal appearances to promote the film. In addition he was working closely with composer, Dimitri Tiomkin, who was scoring the film. As if the thousand and one things that would require his attention in relation to his own film were not enough, Wayne had contracted with 20 th Century-Fox to make North To Alaska, filming of which was due to begin in May.

By March, a rough cut had been assembled which Wayne ran for his associates, including John Ford. All agreed that it would be a hit. More comfortable with the way the film was coming together, Wayne felt able to announce on March 16 th that the film would premier on October 5 th 1960. The Alamo would premiere simultaneously in New York, Washington D.C., Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Tokyo and London, as a “road show” presentation. The road show release had been agreed back in pre-production, though it was a decision that Wayne was not particularly enthusiastic about, and would later regret. The road show concept had been created by Hollywood executives to combat the enemy, Television, by creating the idea of a special evening at the cinema. Tickets would be sold on a reserve seat basis – and at higher prices – as these presentations would be considered an “event”. The “epic” quality of the film would be enhanced with additional scenes to create a longer running time, which would then be enhanced with “walk in” music, overture and exit music. An intermission would also be added and souvenir brochures would also be sold at the theatres.

The problem with the road show presentation was the number of theatres that would be able to show the film, and the number of shows per week. And though these theatres might show the film over a longer period – sometimes over a year – it can limit the volume of tickets to be sold. And this was the factor that concerned Wayne the most.

Tiomkin completed scoring The Alamo in May, just as Wayne began work on North To Alaska, with Henry Hathaway as director. All through shooting, Wayne kept up his punishing schedule, working on his own film between takes and after hours, right up until shooting on North to Alaska completed at the end of July. Wayne was desperately in need of a rest, but he was still due to embark on an intensive 30-day personal appearance tour to promote The Alamo in September. Negotiations with Columbia Records were also concluded successfully around this time, for the release of Dimitri Tiomkin's soundtrack album of the score. Originally planned as a two-disc set, it was eventually released in the more popular single-disc version, but with the addition of songs by The Brothers Four and Marty Robbins.

Sneak Preview

Now with a completed cut of the film, Wayne decided to sneak preview his film at the Aladdin Theatre in Denver, on Friday 5 th August. This would be the second time in less than a year that the city had played host to a preview of a major motion picture. The Centre Theatre in Denver had previewed Ben-Hur the previous September.

An extremely nervous Wayne entered the 900 seat theatre, which had been sold out three days before the screening, to thunderous applause. Accompanying Wayne at this first showing to the public of The Alamo, were his son, Michael; writer Jimmy Grant, Dimitri Tiomkin, William Clothier; two of the editing team, William and Stuart Gilmore with music editor, Robert Tracy. After introductions and opening remarks, the audience went quiet as the lights dimmed and Tiomkin's music filled the theatre. Cheers and applause greeted the opening titles, and for the next 192 minutes, Wayne saw the audience react in just the way he had hoped they would when he began filming almost a year before. When the preview cards came in, the results were better than they had hoped for. Even United Artists were pleased – and somewhat surprised. (There had been growing tension between Wayne and United Artists for some time).

The “missing reel”- and further cuts.

By mid-November, all the Todd-AO premiers had been held, and it was time to look at the all-important critical reviews. Generally, they were good – not great, but “good”. There was considerable praise for the cinematography and battle scenes and also for the underlying message of the film. Several critics felt that the film would sweep the Academy Awards, and business was good, too, with advance bookings well up; running about even with their main competition, Spartacus.

The one problem that most critics were agreed upon, though, was that the film was too long and dragged in places.

Always quick to find fault, United Artists immediately began to question whether the The Alamo was really a road show picture at all – although this had been their choice, not Wayne's. The film had been playing for four days, and Wayne was still in Europe, when the studio began to consider cutting the film's running time. Then, it came to the notice of Batjac that projectionists in certain theatres were omitting reel 9B, so that they could go home early. They had realised that the this reel, which is the “birthday party scene” could be left out, as it forms an interlude between the more relevant scenes before and after, and no one would notice! This confirmed the decision to trim the running time.

Wayne was due to leave Rome for Africa to begin shooting Hatari!, for Howard Hawks, but the start date was delayed for a month. This gave Wayne the chance to head back to Hollywood and supervise the further cutting of The Alamo. Several scenes were trimmed or removed altogether – including the birthday scene – plus the Intermission reel and exit music. (A still, depicting the birthday sequence, remained in the souvenir brochure, puzzling many Alamo fans for years – including yours truly!) This cut down the running time to 161 minutes, which would mean an extra show each day in cinemas. Wayne also ordered the earlier release of some 35mm prints, and by Christmas they were being shown in provincial cities in the U.S. This meant a dramatic increase in revenue, and generated tremendous word of mouth publicity for the film when it went on general release in the spring of 1961. This policy of Wayne's saved the film from financial failure.

The Alamo was nominated for seven Oscars, but on Oscar night, 17 th April 1961, it won only one – for best sound. Tiomkin and Clothier were both passed over in spite of their impressive – and has time has proved – memorable work on music and cinematography respectively. Wayne went home empty-handed.

The loss of 'The Alamo'

Before Wayne could move on to his next project, the debts incurred by his company, Batjac, during filming the The Alamo would have to be repaid. Revenue was coming in at a slow pace, but a shortfall was beginning to affect the operation of the company.

A decision was made to sell off as much of Batjac's property as possible, this would include guns, harnesses, lights and scaffolding etc. But the sad fact was that Batjac's main asset was The Alamo itself. Reluctantly, Wayne put together a package deal that included, along with Batjac's other assets, The Alamo, and offered the package to various studios. Eventually, Wayne and United Artists came to an agreement in mid 1961, which relieved Wayne of his financial burden.

His son, Michael, became owner and president of Batjac Productions, and their next production would be McLintock!, in 1963. Wayne, meanwhile, closed the door on his beloved Alamo – the film that had taken him nearly sixteen years to realise – in the knowledge that he had done his best to see it through to the end.

Rediscovery and Restoration

But The Alamo wouldn't go away. After Wayne was more or less forced to sell the film to United Artists, he would no longer receive any profit from his efforts. Not so the new owners of his film. Re-released in 1967, The Alamo was a huge success, generating tremendous revenue for United Artists. Wayne felt a great sense of pride that his movie could still pull in the crowds, and it continued to do so on its occasional showings around the world, up until 1971 when it was sold to television. Its appearance on NBC, shown in two parts on 18 and 20 September 1971 – with a further twenty minutes sliced from the running time- ranked in the year's top ten for movies shown on television. This edited version was shown again on TV in 1973, 1978 and 1980, with strong ratings each time. Wayne continued to be a popular star in Europe, as a result of which, The Alamo was presented there theatrically as late as 1976.

With the advent of home video and then laserdisc in the 1980's, the 161 minute version enjoyed a rebirth, appealing to a new generation of fans, with few realising that a version that was thirty minutes longer once existed. Certainly, United Artistes along with many Alamo buffs believed that the missing footage was lost forever. Until a Canadian gentleman, by the name of Bob Bryden, attended Toronto's annual 70mm Film Festival, in March 1980. Finding that a scheduled showing of Cleopatra had been cancelled, he nevertheless turned up to watch its replacement instead… The Alamo – the192 minute version! Ten years would pass, and it was not until 1990 that Bryden picked up a magazine that indicated that all the192 minute road show prints had been destroyed by 1979. Remembering what he had seen at the Toronto Festival, Bryden queried this, and doing so set in motion a veritable detective story, as fellow enthusiasts, Ashley Ward and Don Clark painstakingly tracked the known whereabouts of various Alamo prints. All of them were 161 minutes in length.

As a last resort, Bryden and Ward contacted United Artists, Toronto, who confirmed that their print was 161 minutes. On a hunch, they made arrangements to screen the print at the Eglinton Theatre, Toronto, where the chief projectionist also confirmed that their print was 161 minutes long.

On the evening of Saturday November 24 th 1990, a small group of enthusiasts gathered to watch the screening. As the film progressed, the group began to realise, with mounting excitement, that they were watching the original uncut version – all 192 minutes of it.

Within a short time, MGM/UA, as United Artists had now become, were contacted and given the news. The print was immediately recalled from Toronto, and a brand new transfer to home video was authorized, soon to be followed by” letterboxed” VHS and laserdisc versions, to the delight of fans around the world.

Many critics and reviewers today dismiss The Alamo as a flop. They couldn't be more wrong. On its initial release, it grossed over $8,000,000, an extremely respectable figure, which made it one of the top grossing films of that year. In Japan, it set an all-time record for a foreign film, surpassing the previous record holder, Ben-Hur. It established box-office records in London, Paris, Rome and many other cities around the world. And though Wayne himself never made any money from his film, it went on to generate many millions more for United Artists. The two songs from the film, The GreenLeaves Of Summer and The Ballad Of The Alamo, were huge hits at the time, and the former title can still be found on movie theme CD's.

The Alamo is not without its faults. Over- sentimental at times? Possibly …. a little John Ford influence there, perhaps. And certainly some of the patriotism is laid on a little to heavily for non-Americans; but this came from John Wayne's absolute belief in the story – and in America itself. And yet for all that, it works. I, and probably countless other Alamo and Wayne fans, wouldn't have it any other way.

John Wayne never lived to see his film restored and once again enjoyed in the form in which he intended. He died at 5:23 PM on the 11 th June 1979

J.H.

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Re: THE ALAMO John Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby wconly on Sun Oct 02, 2011 4:47 am

I've got to say that with all of the great picture downloads on this site and all of this wonderfull background information, it really makes a person feel like they were there throughout the entire project -- from the beginnings (Wayne's dreams, etc.) to the end! But, the good news is that it is not the end in a 'finalistic state,' that is. This film will live on for countless numbers of viewers for many more years to come. Adding to that part of the legacy -- thanks to all of those 'in the know' who have filled in the 'gaps' of who, how, when, where, etc. future generations should and hopefully will have as great a love for this picture as those of us on this board. Thank you. W>
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Re: THE ALAMO John Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby AlamoMo on Sun Oct 02, 2011 2:19 pm

Many thanks " gtj222 " for posting this.

A wonderful read indeed

Mo
Do This Mean What I Think It Do ??, " It Do "
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Re: THE ALAMO John Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby Colonel Davy on Sun Oct 02, 2011 5:56 pm

Just to set the record straight, the screening took place at 8am on November 24th. The theater needed to be cleared early for weekend showings of Walt Disney's Fantasia. We were not allowed to disrupt the normal schedule. The Eglinton would not allow us an evening screening.
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Re: THE ALAMO John Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby AlamoMo on Sun Oct 02, 2011 6:07 pm

Thanks for that " Colonel Day "

Regards

Mo
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Re: THE ALAMO John Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby Fargo Fenwyck on Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:12 am

I guess this is the thread to place this so here goes.
Just finished watching Wayne's dream and I still get overwelmed when I watch this film. My version is the director's cut transfored from Laser to DVD on my own home equipment. I used two discs with the break at the intermission. I cranked up the surround sound and settled back and just plain enjoyed an extremley well made film that should have won best picture for that year.
This is not posted to be analyzed as to what you think about the film. We've done that. This is just a way for me to open up HHD"s since I won't be with you who are going.
I hope you all get a chance to watch Duke's dream this week.
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Re: THE ALAMO John Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby wconly on Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:11 am

Fargo Fenwyck wrote:I guess this is the thread to place this so here goes.
Just finished watching Wayne's dream and I still get overwelmed when I watch this film. My version is the director's cut transfored from Laser to DVD on my own home equipment. I used two discs with the break at the intermission. I cranked up the surround sound and settled back and just plain enjoyed an extremley well made film that should have won best picture for that year.
This is not posted to be analyzed as to what you think about the film. We've done that. This is just a way for me to open up HHD"s since I won't be with you who are going.
I hope you all get a chance to watch Duke's dream this week.


Well said Fargo! Well said! It really deserved much more Hollywood credit then it got! It really is a great movie! And, even with the pleasure we have at nitpicking it apart, there ain't no film like it and there never will be! God Bless John Wayne and all for The Alamo! W>
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Re: THE ALAMO John Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby Alamo_Stu on Tue Feb 28, 2012 6:59 pm

Yeah, bring on; Flaca, Jocko, Jethro, Beekeeper, Smitty, Parson, 'It do" guy, and Gambler!

.......also long-winded jackanapes, giant Mexican cannon, and Dr. Beekeepers fixins'.
:P

Celebrate the clean, crisp picture/sound transfer of Waynamo on DVD! :D

Image

sTU 8-)
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Re: THE ALAMO John Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby MartyB on Mon Mar 05, 2012 3:27 am

.
Last edited by MartyB on Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Our past is not a dead past, but still lives. Our forefathers created the present by their sacrifice of the past. What they dreamed, we live…and…what they lived we dream.
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Re: THE ALAMO John Wayne's Dream Project.

Postby Fargo Fenwyck on Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:53 pm

Sorry Marty to say this but this was not what i had intended for these post. This is about Wayne's dream come true. let's not mare it with any negativity of behind the scene stuff. This is about the finished project. And don't take offense, please. I just wanted some nice comments about Wayne's dream.
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Fargo Fenwyck
 
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