Alamo [1960]

Remembering the Alamo won't be a problem after you've seen The Alamo, a richly informative, thematically unified set of four History Channel documentaries. The centerpiece of this two-DVD set is "Remember the Alamo," hosted by Dennis Quaid and produced to coincide with the April 2004 theatrical release of The Alamo, the historical epic (promoted here in a behind-the-scenes featurette) in which Quaid plays Gen. Sam Houston. It's a typical History Channel production, purporting to offer the definitive fair-and-balanced account of the siege on the infamous San Antonio, Texas mission on the chilly morning of March 6, 1836, between the Mexican centralist army of Gen. Santa Anna, and the "Texican" American rebels led by Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and William Barret Travis. Numerous "talking head" scholars pore over new and established historical details, examining the political and geographical circumstances that led to the massacre that left few survivors, and dispelling such myths as Crockett's fate (he was captured and executed) and the number of Mexicans killed in the assault. While some of the latest research remains speculative, the context of the Alamo siege is thoroughly examined in the other documentaries (previously issued on VHS) which fill out the set. Hosted by Kenny Rogers in Western regalia, two segments of "The Real West" series go into more specific detail about the battle itself and the history--from ruthless frontier justice to official law-enforcement status--of the legendary Texas Rangers. Most colorful of all, not surprisingly, is the hour-long exploration of the larger-than-life exploits of Davy Crockett, a charming opportunist who nevertheless earned his heroic status as a fearless leader who faced impossible odds at the Alamo siege. While some of the expert testimony verges on shameless hero worship, it remains clear that the Alamo, and the events and personalities that made history there, remains the most pivotal and politically complex turning point in the U.S. expansion of the westward frontier. --Jeff Shannon

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