The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Besides the six biographies, Ragsdale has written a synopsis of the history of
the Alamo with plats, drawings, and photographs to help the reader understand
the physical surroundings. Instead of footnotes, each of the seven section has a
detailed bibliography. As a historian, I miss an index despite the book's brevity.
The author has exhausted primary and secondary sources in order to present
a viable historical account from myth and legend. In some places she had to al-
low her instincts and imagination help us hear and feel what the women en-
dured. This book, with its many fine illustrations, is a welcome addition to
Alamo lore.
Houston MARGARET SWETT HENSON
Alamo Movies. By Frank Thompson. Foreword by Fess Parker. (Plano: Woodware
Publishing, Inc., 1991. Index, filmography. Pp. 128. ISBN 1-55622-375-7.
$14.95.)
In this book, Frank Thompson, author of the futuristic Demolition Man, re-
turns to his past to pay homage to Hollywood and history. As a child, he visited
the Alamo and Alamo Village in Brackettville with his parents, and he never got
over it. In Alamo Movzes he tracks down all the known Alamo films and provides
commentary and production information about each. He claims to present the
most complete information on credits available. Those for John Wayne's The
Alamo, for example, take up a full page and include the full name of the caterer.
In his introduction Thompson lays out the general themes that guide his dis-
cussion of the films. He pronounces "Alamoism" (a rather awkward neologism
that he quickly abandons) a form of secular religion, with the Alamo in San An-
tonio as its shrine. The films themselves he calls "intriguing mixtures of history,
tomfoolery, legend, lies, inspiration, and nonsense." This is about right. Themat-
ically, he sees the Alamo films much as Brian Huberman and Ed Hugertz do, as
having "in common a theme of democratic bonding." This is true even of the
satirical Viva Max!
The book is illustrated with black-and-white photographs, and those of the
first Alamo film, The Immortal Alamo (19 11), are especially interesting. In subse-
quent brief chapters Thompson comments on everything from the number of
extras to varying interpretations of the Big Three-Crockett, Travis, and Bowie.
He notes that Crockett is young in one film, old in another, and more or less
dignified, garrulous, and noble in all of them.
The most interesting obscure figure Thompson has unearthed is Anthony J.
Xydias, a Greek who moved to Dallas in 1906 and eventually, through his New
York-based Sunset Productions Company, filmed a number of historical low-bud-
get silents, a poor lot of which the best was Davy Crockett at the Fall of the Alamo
(1926). Later, when sound came along, Xydias proved equally inept, reshooting
his 1926 film as Heroes of the Alamo (1937). This quirky film concentrates on
Almeron and Susannah Dickinson, portraying them as a Depression-era family
in search of the American dream down Texas way. Interestingly, this B-budget
wonder was the only Alamo film of the Centennial era.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101216/. Accessed July 12, 2014.