When it came out in 2004, I had little urge to see the latest Hollywood interpretation of “The Alamo” — the one with Billy Bob Thornton portraying Davy Crockett. Partly because I was almost half a century past my coonskin-cap phase, partly because I had heard that the portrayal of Davy was somewhat… postmodern… which I didn’t really need even if I had put Davy-worship behind me, and partly because I just generally didn’t hear much good about it. On Netflix it only gets about two-and-a-half stars.
That was a mistake on my part. I caught some of it on TV recently, and have now ordered it from Netflix so I can see the first third or so, which I had missed.
The centerpiece is the portrayal of Crockett, which is really awesome. It’s deep, and appealing. And very human. This is the iconoclastic politician who (as confirmed by my favorite-ever historical plaque, on the courthouse square in Jackson, TN) told voters who had refused to re-elect him to Congress, “You can go to hell, but I am going to Texas!” This was one of the nation’s first larger-than-life celebrities.
I don’t know whether the real man was anything like this, but watching this movie I am persuaded by Thornton that he IS Davy Crockett. Even more so than Fess Parker, which means a lot coming from a child of the ’50s.
This scene, in which Davy muses on the price of living up to public expectations, encapsulates the performance well. Check it out. The interplay between Jim Bowie’s taunting cynicism and Davy’s sincere, patient self-awareness is pretty powerful. And in case this violates any copyright — come on, guys, I’m trying to get people to check out your movie!