Historical Accuracy of the 1960 film The Alamo by John Wayne

Topics: Battle of the Alamo, Texas Revolution, Davy Crockett Pages: 6 (1488 words) Published: March 6, 2015
The Alamo
The Battle of the Alamo is a praised historical event that spanned from February 23rd to march 6th 1836. It was a key event during Texas revolution. It is important to understand its historical meaning and background to grasp what really happened. However, the majority of the population are misled by Hollywood. The 1960’s film The Alamo, directed by John Wayne, had some historical accuracies about what actually occurred during the thirteen days of the battle, however at the same time had many flaws which can be expected from Hollywood. The main comparisons that can be made between the film and history is the plot, characters, and setting.

The plot of the film The Alamo had many historical inaccuracies relative to how many facts it had right. In the film, the final siege of the Alamo took place during the day. General Santa Anna’s army was showed garrisoning around the Alamo, surrounding the fortified walls from all sides. In the film, the Texan defenders where aware of the enemy movement and where prepared for the upcoming battle. However, the actual battle of the Alamo did not take place during the day but rather the Mexican army attacked before dawn. The Texans where asleep at this time and where oblivious to what was going on up until the Mexican army began approaching the walls. In the film, Fannin was shown being ambushed. Historically, he was never ambushed. He, along with his men, were murdered on Palm Sunday three weeks after the Battle of the Alamo. Another plot hole was in the movie, there was a scene where a party was hosted for Lisa Dickinson and the Alamo defenders sang the happy birthday song to her. The battle of the Alamo occurred in 1836 while the song “Happy Birthday to you” was first composed in 1893. The film also had plot accuracies. For example, General Santa Anna was shown moving his army to overtake the Alamo. Also, the advantage the Mexican army had in troop numbers, better weaponry, and a better trained army was also clearly displayed in the film. A number of times, the film emphasized that the Alamo was being defended to buy more time for General Sam Houston who was also planning on facing General Santa Anna. Supporting this, upon receiving a message from the Alamo, in the film General Houston said “I hope they remember. I hope Texas remembers.” This was historically accurate as well. Another correct part of the film that was historically accurate was the fact that the only reinforcements that were able to join the Alamo were the thirty men led by Colonel James Bowie, and a few volunteers from Tennessee steered by David Crockett. Lastly, The Hollywood film also depicted that there were no survivors of the Alamo, which is accurate but at the same time surprising because all of the protagonists ended dead.

The film did well with keeping basic details about the main characters historically accurate however, their where also a few outliers. The film portrayed James Bowie’s knife and his skills with the knife in a few scenes, which is historically correct. However many of his details where flawed. For example, in many scenes James Bowie was shown brandishing a six-barreled shotgun and even using it on the day of the final battle. Also in the movie, Bowie was wounded in his leg during the final assault and his wife was killed during the siege. All of these details are historically inaccurate; Bowie never had a six-barreled shotgun, he was not injured in his leg during the battle but rather he was ill with typhoid fever during the attack and could barely stay wake. His wife had passed away a year before the battle of the Alamo occurred. In the movie, James Bowie and Davy Crockett agreed, at one point, to leave the Alamo. This is also a myth. Although, historically, Bowie and the Alamo commander William Travis disliked each other, they were “on the same page” that the Alamo should be defended and there was no action taken to abandon the fortification. John Wayne himself played the act of...

Bibliography: The Alamo. Dir. John Wayne. Perf. John Wayne, Richard Widmark, Laurence Harvey. Cine, 1960. DVD.
Hatch, Thom. Encyclopedia of the Alamo and the Texas revolution. Jefferson: McFarland, 2007. Print.
Crisp, James E. Sleuthing the Alamo Davy Crockett’s last stand and other mysteries of the Texas Revolution. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Print.
"James Bowie". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 04 Mar. 2015
Stephen L. Hardin, "ALAMO, BATTLE OF THE," Handbook of Texas Online(http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qea02), accessed March 02, 2015. Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Modified on July 24, 2014. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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