“The Alamo” won an Academy Award for Best Sound.
MGM/UA's DVD of John Wayne's dramatization of the famous, doomed stand contains the shorter theatrical cut of the film that was released by original distributor United Artists.
As the film's legendary legacy entails, a 70mm print was discovered in excellent condition at a storage facility in Toronto, back in 1991, and was released by the previous MGM/UA regime on laserdisc the following year. Recent print & web discussions with film preservationist Robert Harris indicate a costly restoration is needed so that the vestiges of the now-fading Toronto print and surviving separation masters can be used to create a new film master of the long version.
Carried over from the laserdisc set, however, is the nostalgic documentary "John Wayne's The Alamo," which preserves many production memories by surviving stuntmen, character actors, and bit players. Son Michael Wayne spent time working for director John Ford when the famous director appeared on set in Texas, and he and some of the interviewed cast recall some amusing anecdotes regarding the odd tension that initially surfaced when Ford placed himself beside the camera in his own director's chair.
The documentary is lavishly illustrated with stills and archival behind the scenes colour footage, and while briskly paced, it's a bit obvious most of the controversies that dogged the production are largely avoided; the isolated sore spot is the film's hired publicist, who mounted a campaign that managed to irk and offend rather than rally interest and support for a production hyped and hounded by some negative press.
If a full restoration is undertaken, hopefully the rich studio and Wayne archives will be mined for some of the rare materials seen in the documentary, including a fascinating and elaborately filmed B&W television special hosted by Wayne during filming.
Note: This title was released once before in December 2000, and this re-release coincides with the 2004 film of the same name. This re-release is the same with the exception of new box art and a cheaper price. All of the bonus features and specifications are the same.
© 2004 Mark R. Hasan