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Last Command
Adventure , Western

1955 | FULLSCREEN | Color | Quality: Excellent

Sterling Hayden

Arthur Honnicutt

Ernest Borgnine


The time for all good Texans to take up arms against the armies of Santa Anna is now! Our story follows the adventures of the iconic American frontiersman and pioneer Jim Bowie as he lives the events leading to the battle of the Alamo in San Antonio, where brave Texans gave their lives to become free of Mexican rule by defending the former mission against the overwhelming odds of Santa Anna's army. During the Texas War of Independence of 1836, Jim Bowie pleads for caution with the rebellious Texicans. They don't heed his advice since he's a Mexican citizen, married to the daughter of the Mexican vice-governor of the province, and also a personal friend of General Santa Anna going back to the days they had fought together for Mexico's independence. After serving as president for 22 years, Santa Anna has become too powerful and arrogant. He rules Mexico with an iron fist and he would not allow Texas to self-govern. Bowie sides with the Texans in their bid for independence and urges a cautious strategy, given Santa Anna's power and cunning. Despite the disagreement between the Texicans and Bowie regarding the right strategy, they ask Bowie to lead them in a last ditch stand, at the Alamo, against General Santa Anna's numerically superior forces.

Among historians and reenactors, this is rated as the best Alamo film ever made for historical accuracy. The film was originally set to be produced and directed by John Wayne, but Republic Pictures head Herbert Yates wanted Wayne only to star, not produce or direct. This put the film on hold until Wayne eventually left Republic to form Wayne-Fellows Productions. Five years later Wayne would make his dream project - playing Davy Crockett and directing the three-hours-plus The Alamo, which featured many elements of Last Command in its screenplay. Republic went ahead with the project without Wayne, bringing in legendary director Frank Lloyd - a major Hollywood veteran whose career stretched all the way back to the silent era. Winding up at a B studio like Republic would seem to be a step down the career ladder, but this film is actually one of Lloyd's best and one of the best to ever come out of Republic. While the studio did not often obtain the services of directors the calibre of Frank Lloyd, great names like John Ford and Fritz Lang had occasionally made films there, and every so often the studio would sink a proper budget into a film when the subject matter demanded it - such was the case with Last Command. Thousands of extras, big sets, spectacular action scenes, robust performances all combined to make a first-rate action picture. Sterling Hayden makes a good Jim Bowie, the always underrated Arthur Hunnicutt personifies Davy Crockett, and the cast is filled with familiar character actors such as Roy Roberts, Slim Pickens, John Russell, Jim Davis - all who contribute much to the overall atmosphere of the film. The setpiece of the movie, though, is the final siege of the Alamo itself, and it is spectacular. It compares well to the John Wayne version made five years later, and ranks right up there with the final battle scene in 1964's "Zulu"--expertly edited with top-notch stunt-work and special effects. Very highly recommended.

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