One of the most popular movies of 1960 was the John Wayne directed The Alamo starring the Duke as Davy Crockett, Richard Widmark as Jim Bowie, plus Laurence Harvey, Frankie Avalon, Chill Wills, Patrick Wayne and Linda Cristal.

Click here to see rare behind the scenes footage of The Alamo from the Texas Archive of the Moving Image. The clips are in b&w and are silent, but show some interesting scenes. The blonde actress featured is Sixties Starlet Joan O’Brien. I interviewed her for my book Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema, and below are excerpts from it:

O’Brien’s agents next wrangled her an interview for a role in John Wayne’s epic film The Alamo (1960). The small part of Sue Dickinson interested Joan because “I thought it would be a nice thing to play a historic character and this role had the big dramatic ending as she and two children are the sole survivors of the massacre. I could envision that whoever portrayed Sue would get a big play on the screen.” Meeting John Wayne, whose image was bigger than life itself, terrified Joan who was summoned to his office alone without her agents. “John Wayne was a huge guy—a giant,” comments Joan. “But he made me feel very much at home. I remember he put his feet up on his desk and looked down at me from his big leather chair. He just talked to me like a regular person. I thought, ‘Gee, he’s not hard to take.’ Then he told me that Loretta Young had offered to do the part for free. Right away he had me because I thought ‘If Loretta Young offered to do it for nothing I should be so happy to do this and get paid.’ He was very flattering and said to me, ‘You remind me of a younger Lana Turner.’ He thought I was right for the part and I knew I had nothing to lose by taking it.”

The Alamo finally began shooting on September 9, 1959 in Brackettville, Texas. Describing the location, Joan says, “This dusty little town had one gas pump, one little café where they only spoke Spanish, and one movie house that only showed Spanish films. There was nothing to do in that town and I went stir crazy. This shoot was long, laborious, and exhausting.”

As for her opinion of John Wayne, O’Brien muses, “John Wayne was just getting his feet wet as a director with The Alamo. He knew how to stage scenes and what to do with the camera, the lighting, and positioning his actors. But he wasn’t very good getting an emotional draw from an actor. Which is unusual because when an actor directs they usually handle other actors extremely well. I didn’t feel any frustration with him because I felt that my character was truly defined. He also seemed at times somewhat abrupt and impatient with some individuals. I think one of the reasons for that was The Alamo was a project of enormous magnitude. He not only starred in it but also produced and directed it. He had a lot riding on this film. And when you also have money invested in it sometimes it is very difficult to be charming. However, Wayne was never rude with me.”



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