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Remember "The Alamo"
Recollections of viewing "The Alamo" in 1960

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: William Clarke, USADate: 11.09.2010
I saw "The Alamo" in the fall of 1960. I was just entering the 4th grade so please take this into account in these recollections. Nixon and Kennedy were "locking horns" in the home stretch of their presidential campaigns that would prove to be the closest in US history. My parents sported a "Nixon 60 NOW!" bumpersticker on the back of our station wagon. Our neighbours showed their "JFK for the USA" bumper sticker on their Volkswagen beetle (they went to UCLA). It was the height of the cold war and the contention was in the air - a prelude to the tumultuous decade of the "sixties" we were entering.

It was in this atmosphere that I was invited to attend a screening of "The Alamo" at the Carthay Circle [Los Angeles, USA, ed] - one of those magnificent old movie houses from the glory days of Hollywood - vast and luxurious. The screen was huge and extraordinarily bright and the sound and music made the audience feel like there really was a 100 piece orchestra in the pit. You could almost smell and feel the dust of the galloping horses. I became transfixed at the scene slowly panning the camera up one Mexican soldier and then beyond to an seemingly endless line of Mexican infantry disappearing into the vastness of Santa Ana's army. That scene was prophetic as California and indeed the entire American southwest has been invaded by illegal Mexican aliens.
More in 70mm reading:

"The Alamo" lost 70mm version - This letter which started it all

The Reconstruction and Restoration of John Wayne's "The Alamo"

"The Alamo" August 9, 2001. Reprinted from Dallas Observer by permission from Robert Wilonsky.

Internet link:

"The Alamo" at the Alamo

"The Alamo" in Todd-AO in Paris at the Broadway SpacioVision 70mm cinema sometimes in the 1970s. Photographer unknown. In70mm.com collection

I have come to learn that the "The Alamo" story was based on the first century Judean "Zealots" last stand against Roman legions at Masada in Israel. Wayne's goal was to turn the Alamo into an American equivalent to this Biblical event. An expression of his feelings about the communist totalitarian "hordes" of Russia and China. Wayne succeeded brilliantly in my opinion - the movie is one of the greatest masterpieces of all time. Character development is a big part of the first half of the movie as you got to know Travis played magnificently by Lawrence Harvey, Bowie and Crockett and their factions all of whom must be convinced to follow them into a hopeless struggle to their doom. A highlight is "The Duke" Shakespearian speech, "Republic, I like the sound of the word...." Having gotten to know the characters and their lofty principals sets the stage for the second half of the movie and its spectacular heroics and battle scenes. The visual pageantry and interplay of 100 piece orchestra, battle scenes involving thousands and the heroic sacrifices John Wayne and the "Texicans" made a strong impression on me. I left the theatre in tears.

"The Alamo" is John Wayne's monument to America. And it's still strong medicine for the sick and jaded nation we find today. But strong medicine is what is needed for illness. If "The Duke" were still with us, I'm convinced he would tour "The Alamo" across America presenting it just as it was shown that October day in 1960, complete with Todd-AO, stereo sound system, etc. in those "Temples" like the Carthay Circle. I know that I would certainly pay top dollar to relive this timeless experience. God Bless John Wayne, God Bless America! Remember the Alamo!
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Updated 21-01-24