I know it could not have happened back then , but I have wondered if Wayne could have had a small part (Houston) I would like to have Fess Parker play Crockett .At that time most people saw him as Davey, and Charlton Heston, as Jim Bowie. The script would need to change some but I think it would have been killer! Now I fell in love with the Alamo after seeing it as was, I have read somewhere he did try to get Heston , But was there ever any thought to using Fess Parker?I did not like Richard Widmark as Bowie he just didnt fit.
Post by Rich Curilla on Nov 7, 2014 20:04:25 GMT -5
Frankly, Fess Parker would have been the last person to have been cast as Crockett. True, he did a wonderful job and proved to be a very talented (and subtle) actor -- and became our Crockett -- but that was television and Disney. This was John Wayne and THE ALAMO. Movies and TV were two separate worlds that did not cross over in those days. Wayne scoffed at being asked to play the lead in GUNSMOKE because it was television and he was a movie star. He offered the suggestion of Jim Arness who was young and could go either way (and I think Duke figured Arness would do better in TV -- and was correct!). Plus, Duke was making a political statement that required... Duke... and not anybody else. Plus, significantly, if Parker had played the part in THE ALAMO, nobody would have gone to see it. They already saw him play Crockett. Your fist phrase said it all. It could not have happened back then.
I remember a comment in one of my filmmaking books in describing the difference between movies for the big screen and movies for TV. It was something like, "For the same part in the same script, a theatrical feature would cast Robert Redford; a TV movie would cast Robert Conrad." Sort of says it all.
I never looked at it in that light.Thank you for your knowledge on that. You are right without the Duke as Crockett it would not have been a classic. It was his movie that got me interested in The Alamo.
Post by Bill Yowell on Nov 8, 2014 11:27:38 GMT -5
To me, if the "Duke" had just not called it "The Alamo", changed the names of the leading characters, altered the façade of the church so as not to resemble the Alamo in any way, it would have still been a great movie, and he still could have made the same political statement. It could still tell the story of men fighting for freedom against overwhelming odds. Or, if he hadn't strayed so far away from known facts about the siege and left those details out, he would still have a great movie. Two things that will always stand out to me are, the wonderful musical score, and the movie set that was left behind gave us all a much clearer picture of the footprint of the compound than what we find in downtown San Antonio. Even with all the things I object to, I still watch that movie every time it is aired.
Post by Rich Curilla on Nov 8, 2014 11:56:36 GMT -5
John Ford did what you are saying. He would take a historic event, rewrite it into fiction for his characters and not label it with the historic name. Fort Apache is the prime example. Capt. Owen Thursday (Henry Fonda) was Ford's Custer. He even locked the parallel in by showing them admiring a painting of "Thursday's Last Stand" at the end, which was an obvious copy of the Anheiser-Bush painting of "Custer's Last Stand." But Wayne wanted the Alamo brand on his mythology.
I seriously doubt that I would have been as captured and enraptured by John Wayne's THE ALAMO had it not been for the fine artistic work of Dimitri Tiomkin, William Clothier and Alred Ybarra.
Post by Bill Yowell on Nov 8, 2014 13:16:41 GMT -5
Rich, thank you so much for your response. Am I correct in thinking that you served as a consultant for Waynes' movie, and for other subsequent movies about the Alamo? If so, to what extent are you allowed to offer your expertise and knowledge about the historical correctness of the subject? I mean, when they stray from what we know to be true, do they ask for your opinion, or is it a don't speak unless we ask thing. As a consultant, what impact were you allowed to have on the final product.
Post by Rich Curilla on Nov 8, 2014 22:22:39 GMT -5
Bill, I was still a kid of 13 when Wayne made the movie and I didn't even know about it until it was finished, so they missed their opportunity to use me as a consultantant. (I certainly knew more at 13 than I do now. LOL)
I did however serve as a consultant (uncredited) for two years to Michael Corenblith, Ron Howard's production designer for The Alamo (2004).
Every movie is different with regard to how they view historical or technical consultants. In the case of John Wayne's The Alamo, he had highly published historians Lon Tinkle (1958 author of 13 Days to Glory) and J. Frank Dobie on the set several times. Unfortunately, it was for publicity only. Wayne's script writer, James Edward Grant, refused changes. Actually, in their defense, every change in a screenplay once a movie is in production costs a lot of money. You make changes before production. But again, "history" isn't why Wayne had those historians on set. It was for looks. I corresponded with Lon Tinkle once and asked him why the movie wasn't more accurate if he and Dobie were there? His response was very revealing:
"John Wayne did 'import' Frank Dobie and me for week-end visits to his sets at Brackettville; but his scriptwriter (who had big money invested in the movie and therefore had a lot of power) would not listen to any advice or make one single correction. I have rarely met a more cynical man, with more scorn for the general public and what it can be induced to accept as reality."
The Alamo (2004) was exactly the opposite. Both Ron Howard and his replacement director John Lee Hancock wanted to follow history as much as possible in this motion picture. Michael Corenblith and I bonded when he scouted Alamo Village for the movie in October of 2001, and he loved it that I was an Alamo historian and a willing helper. Disney (the producing studio) was willing to bring on historians once the film was in production, but Michael needed help in the preparation and set designing stages. That is what I did for him. Then, Dr. Stephen Hardin was hired for the production as historical consultant, Lt. Col. Alan Huffines became the military historian. (They described their relationship as "macro" and "micro" historian.) Dr. Arnaldo Vento was hired to monitor the Spanish dialogue to make sure it was correct for 1836. John Lee's instructions as writer-director of the movie were clear, "I don't want to make any decision out of historical ignorance." Depending on the circumstance, he might or might not be able to change a detail, but he would if he could. Both historians were asked earlier to comb through the script for errors. All or most of what they found were corrected. I was asked by unit publicist Ernie Malik to review his publicity book for historical errors in that. He used every correction I made, big or small.
When John Lee first arrived on the set as the new director, it was already built and Disney had cut back the budged severely, forcing many script deletions. One was an opening with the Battle of Bexar in process. I got a rapid fire e-mail from Michael telling me that JLH love the town set but didn't know what to stage there with so many deletions. Michael wanted to know what activities would have taken place in town rather than in the Alamo. Details that I presented were (1) Travis' quarters and headquarters were in town, (2) the Dickinsons lived on the plaza, (3) the George Washington Birthday fandango was held in town the night before the siege began and one or two minor details. As you know if you've seen the film, they listened, they loved it, and these details are in the film.
Many other things happened to say that these guys were just the reverse of John Wayne's movie where the desire to stay on a historical track was concerned.
Post by Rich Curilla on Nov 8, 2014 22:26:01 GMT -5
The simple answer to your actual question is that the way to be a historical consultant for a movie is to do the best research you can within the time constraints involved, gather the information, lay it on the table before them -- and then back away from the table. They either use it or they don't. JLH's The Alamo loved everything they could get their hands on.
Post by loucapitano on Nov 9, 2014 12:46:28 GMT -5
Rich, thank you for your insight into the "behind the scenes" look at JLH's Alamo masterpiece. No doubt you've written more about these memories that I've missed over the years. I'd love to read them, as would we all. If you haven't put them to writing, what a great subject for you to add to the terrific work you've already done on the Alamo. I would jokingly add that I dream your treatise could be the essence of "Alamo 2019" which may be bubbling in the mind of one of our heirs as I write this. Lou from Long Island
Post by Bill Yowell on Nov 10, 2014 9:46:46 GMT -5
Rich, just out of curiosity, if Lou's dream were to be realized and you were employed from the get go to develop a new Alamo movie or even a documentary, and let's say the production would only encompass the thirteen day siege, from the morning of Feb. 23 while folks are just milling around town, with the closing scene being the burning pyres late afternoon on Mar. 6th. If you had total free reign, who would you employ, what story lines would you develop to create the ultimate Alamo production? If possible, please make this happen before 2019 as I'm getting older real fast.
Post by Rich Curilla on Nov 10, 2014 18:53:03 GMT -5
First off, how do you make a 3-act structure out of this story? It must fit this dramatic template or it shouldn't be filmed because it won't be enjoyable -- except by people who want to see battle, and that is neither a movie or a documentary. Must have a beginning-middle-end structure. Set-up, development, climax and conclusion.
Well you have certainly admitted familiarity with the 3-Act structure written about by Aristotle. Interestingly, modern media has once again adopted this structure with great success. It is probably worth pointing out that this is a revival of Aristotle's structure, that prior to this there was something called the Gustav Freytag 5-Act structure elucidated by Horace (Roman critic). It is typically used to describe Greek and Shakespearian drama (written by Freytag in 1863). There are 3-Act, 4-Act, and 8-Act structures - but the 5-Act is probably the most significant assessment of some of the most famous dramatic renditions in history:
Format of a Five Act Structure: Act 1: The Exposition This is where the audience learns the setting (Time/Place), characters are developed, and a conflict is introduced. Act 2: Rising Action This is where the action is, which leads the reader to the climax. In this stage it is common for complications to arise or for the protagonist to encounter obstacles. Act 3: The Climax This is the pinnacle moment or turning point of the play; the climax is characterized by the highest amount of suspense. Act 4: Falling Action Is the opposite of Rising Action, in the falling action the story is coming to an end and any unknown details or plot twists are revealed or wrapped up. Act 5: Denouement or Resolution This is the final outcome of the drama. Here the authors tone about his or her subject matter is revealed, and sometimes a moral or lesson is learned.
Post by loucapitano on Nov 23, 2014 12:50:24 GMT -5
Kinda reminds me of lessons I learned while "speechifying." First, you tell em what you're going to say... Second, you say what you want to say... Then you review what you just said. Of course, you open with something humorous and end with something profound to encourage thinking. Anyway, Rich and Ray both know from which they speak and do it so well. Lou from Long Island