Movies - TV
The Lingering Guilt That Inspired John Wayne's "The Alamo"
By JEREMY SMITH
To many, John Wayne was the epitome of the American male — the flesh-and-blood ideal of decisive action and an ornery maverick who tamed the West and served his country valiantly in wartime. Despite this persona, he was unable to act on his desires to enlist during World War II, unlike his equally famous counterparts James Stewart and Henry Fonda.
Wayne told director John Ford that he just had to finish “one or two pictures” before enlisting, but he never got around to it. He first talked about his Alamo film in 1945, and it was eventually released in 1960 as Wayne’s stodgy and overcompensating patriotic effort.
The Duke’s widow, Pilar Wayne, said her husband “would become a ‘superpatriot’ for the rest of his life trying to atone for staying home,” but that doesn’t quite come across in this three-hour slog. Long-winded and touting the virtues of rugged individualism and evils of communism, “The Alamo” feels more like score-setting than atonement for a man who resented his lack of service.