John Wayne released “The Alamo” in 1960. And the Cold War-era movie has since stood the test of time as one version of a pivotal historical event.
The movie is not without its detractors. But it was important to Wayne to make “The Alamo” because he was an ardent anti-Communist, and he saw it as a story about a struggle for freedom.
“I’d read up on the history of our country and I’d become fascinated with the story of the Alamo. To me it represented the fight for freedom. Not just in America, but in all countries,” Wayne once said.
Now the Wayne estate’s official Instagram account has posted a behind-the-scenes gallery of pictures from the set of “The Alamo.” It includes shots of Wayne directing and in costume. (The legendary actor played Davy Crockett in the movie.)
‘The Alamo’ Went on to Win an Oscar
In 1961, “The Alamo” was nominated for seven Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Chill Wills), Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Music – Original Song, Best Music – Scoring and Best Sound. It won in the latter category.
The movie also won a Golden Globe for Best Original Score. It also won the Bronze Wrangler from the Western Heritage Awards, surely a meaningful honor for Wayne, the consummate cowboy.
And in 2011, “The Alamo” was up for an International Film Music Critics Award for Best Archival Release of an Existing Score. While nominated, it did not win that award, per IMDb.
John Wayne Took Some Artistic Liberties in ‘The Alamo’
The Alamo was one battle in the war between Mexico and what was then the Republic of Texas. Stretching out over 13 days during the winter of 1836, it ended with a massacre of the Texans by Mexican troops.
Wayne’s $12 million film takes some artistic liberties with history. For one thing, the climactic battle in “The Alamo” happens during the day, when in real life in happened before dawn, according to Yahoo Entertainment.
For another, Wayne’s character, Crockett, dies a hero’s death, setting off an explosion after taking a bayonet to the gut and thus taking some Mexican soldiers out with him. But if he’d done that in real life, the church wouldn’t have survived. There are several accounts of Crockett’s death: one claims he was captured and formally executed; another says he was overrun in battle; and another, from survivor Susanna Dickinson, has his body out in front of the church.
Another glaring flaw in Wayne’s account is that it was not only white Americans fighting the Mexican troops. Mexican-born Texans also fought the siege.
What’s more, “The Alamo” was not filmed at the real-life Alamo, in downtown San Antonio, Texas, but on a special set designed for the film near Brackettville, Texas, per the Texas Film Commission.
Still, for all its dramatic license, the film brought that historical event to life for many Americans. And it remains a prime reason why so many tourists continue to flock to the Alamo, even today.