The Man From the Alamo (1953)

2 10 2008

Definitely a step-up from The Cimarron Kid but once again, this is a very minor entry in Boetticher’s career. I suppose I would feel a bit better about these two films if it hadn’t been for the fact that Anthony Mann was already making some of the most masterful westerns of all-time in the same time period. Everyone has to start somewhere, but it seems that unlike Mann, Boetticher had a lot of maturing to do as a filmmaker.

Maybe Boetticher just needed a bit more experience before he made these two pictures, not only as a filmmaker but as a human being. There is an extremely naive worldview presented here, that is not at all present in Boetticher’s latter films with Randolph Scott. The story concerns John Stroud, the only man to run away from the Alamo. He is relentlessly prosecuted by the townsfolk as being a coward, but of course, he actually isn’t. In fact, he may be more brave than those that stayed. As it turns out, Stroud only left to help his family. In other words, one of the most eye roll-inducing and predictable narratives I’ve come across in a long time. It would have been so much more interesting have Stroud actually been portrayed as a wimp. I don’t know how he was in real life, but its not as Boetticher is aiming for historical accuracy here.

So while this shows more promise than The Cimarron Kid with a much more refined aesthetic, and a few more glimpses at Boetticher’s future grittiness, it also suffers from having a flawless martyr of a hero. It seems that Stroud never does anything wrong, but every character thinks otherwise. As a result, this is 80 minutes of phony sympathy crafted by a filmmaker who went on to do much better things.

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