Sprawling, ponderous history lesson that re-creates the defense of the Alamo in 1836 Texas, when 187 Americans and Texicans held off Santa Anna's army of 7,000 men for 13 days. The major focus is on Colonels William Travis (Laurence Harvey), Davy Crockett (John Wayne), and Jim Bowie

(Richard Widmark). Wayne, whose Batjac Productions spent some $15 million mounting THE ALAMO (shot in 91 days, with $1.5 million spent re-creating the fort), produced, starred, and directed, with uncredited second-unit assistance from good friend John Ford. The result is an old-fashioned patriotic

movie and a rousing epic that performed poorly at the box office, perhaps because it chronicled one of America's most famous military losses. All the pontificating about the joys of freedom becomes irritating, but James Edward Grant's dialogue occasionally crackles with enough humorous wit to hold

an audience untill the gripping finale. Originally released at 192 minutes, it was later edited down to 140 minutes, with much of the Ford-directed footage reportedly cut out. The videocassette runs 161 minutes, but fails to recapture the sumptuous Todd-AO wide-screen photography.