Comparison between the original Theatrical version, here being represented by a recording from the German pay-TV-network "Premiere" on its MGM-channel (identical to the US-DVD) and the Restored Director's Original Cut, also from MGM but released exclusively on VHS / laser-disc.
Probably there has been hardly any other film project that was as important to "the Duke" John Wayne as "The Alamo". However, shooting and production have not exactly been blessed with luck: it already took 2 years to just build the set of Fort Alamo; and also during shooting the project did not exactly become any cheaper which made United Artists eventually distance themselves from financing the project since the costs of the production could no longer be foreseen. This resulted in the production being stopped several times; finally, the production was financed by the director and leading actor himself in order to be able to complete the movie - the resulting huge debt could only be paid by Wayne after selling the rights for Television in 1971 which was more than a decade later. Problems with the actor Richard "Jim Bowie" Widmark who was not exactly a fan John Wayne's directing such as the usual accidents on the set and even a fatality (even though not while shooting) meant further stress for the western-star.
But the trouble paid off: the film went into the top 10 of the US Box Office charts of 1960, was nominated for 7 Oscars and won one of them such as a Golden Globe and other film awards - rightly. However, several scenes have been cut out of the director's favorite version in order to get the movie to a length that is at least approximately near the standard for Theatrical releases. Plenty of "character development" had to go such as a few action-scenes, the love-story between Davy Crockett & the Mexican "Flaca" - which is also only slightly indicated in the Director's Cut - and the complete subplot about Jim Bowie's diremption if he and his men should leave the emplacement which was objectively lost or stay and fight.
The version that John Wayne wanted for the Theatrical release was released in the mid-nineties as a Roadshow-version on VHS and laser-disc. Also, this version was rootedly refurbished by the "classic-approved" Robert Harris & James Katz who had already worked on movies from Alfred Hitchcock, "Around the World in Eighty Days" or "Ben Hur". So the "Restored Director's Original Cut" was made. This version is clearly superior to the shortened Theatrical version because it erases several plot holes, allows the audience to identify with the characters in a much deeper way and gives some characters - especially Jim Bowie who has been mentioned before - a lot more depth.
But still, the Director's Cut has not been released on DVD yet. So called "Extended Versions", like one example that was released in Australia, only contain way more bonus features than the usual single disc releases and have that name illegitimately.
The times mentioned at the extended scenes refer to the Theatrical version.
The remaining time difference exists because of the different frame rates of PAL and NTSC, the longer logo-credits of the Director's Cut and the rounding of each scene's running time to entire or half seconds.
Running time of the Theatrical version: 2:35:07 min. (2:34:52 min. without end credits)
Running time of the Director's Cut: 3:22:38 min. (3:19:02 min. without end credits)
23 Extended scenes = 40 min. 39 sec. (NTSC)
2 Alternative shots = No time difference
Note: the different aspect ratios in the screenshot are a result of the pan and scan process that was used in the TV broadcast.
The logo credits of the Director's Cut are longer than in the Theatrical version because of further production logos.
The Director's Cut begins with the "Overture" which lasts several minutes.
After General Houston's flying visit:
The scene with old Jethro & Jim Bowie is longer; the old man tells about how hard it is for everybody, here, so far away from their homes and families. Then all of a sudden Bowie recollects, pours away his alcohol and walks outside followed by Jethro where he really struggles with the bright sun.
There, he meets Col. Travis who informs him that he got promoted by Houston and is now in command of the men. Bowie seems anything but exited but accepts it and keeps walking past his men who immediately ask him what is next, Jim angrily responses that they will find out, anyway. Meanwhile, Travis directs James Bonham to follow his orders then James rides away. Then Travis and his men ride out of the frame, too.
In the Theatrical version the fading to the next scene contains a longer black frame which results in an additional difference of 6 seconds, this is also being added to the difference.
After mayor Segine's warning:
Col. Travis talks to his best friend Dickinson much longer. Pretty egomaniacally, he points out that he is much better than "this rebel Bowie" and most people who rest on their life standards and the security given to them while in reality only a few men, just like himself, are willing to fight for it. He also references the "Jefferson speech" (at which he obviously was present) and says that even someone like Thomas Jefferson has to realise that he basically only has "useless grass roots" available for his goals. Meanwhile Dickinson wonders how their friendship could last so long in this "whorehouse" to what Travis responds that it could do so because they are cut from the same cloth.
Eventually, Dickinsons' wife Sue enters the room and says she brought coffee and could not help hearing the men's "gibber" from her kitchen. After she put down the coffee she leaves the room; Travis & Dickinson are left back a little gloomy.
In the church basement:
The Theatrical version shows a short alternative shot of Crockett, Bowie & "Beekeeper" then it fades to black.
In the Director's Cut the following happens: Suddenly Mr. Sand is standing at the upper landing with a few men behind him, he says to Crockett an the rest that they will not get the chance to report their findings. Young Smitty tries to sneak up to Sand but Sand notices it and calls on him to go to the others. While Parson falls on his knees begging them to at least spare the boy, "Beekeeper" is suddenly pointing the torch towards the powder kegs and says they all will die, then. The men who came with Sand flee; Sand's bafflement about that is used by Bowie to overpower him giving Crockett enough time to kill Mr. Sand by precisely throwing Bowie's knife at him. Everybody is relieved. Crockett pulls the knife out of the dead man's body (not in the frame), wipes it and hands it back to Bowie. The bunch is leaving the basement; Crockett says to Smitty that he should finally go to sleep.
Scene change: Crockett visits the pretty Mexican once again. After the introduction Davy tells her that she does not have to think about marrying Mr. Sand, anymore, because he killed him. "Flaca" does not really know how to react to that; because of the many things that recently happened to her and her family she spontaneously has to start crying. Crockett gives her a hug and says that will surely help.
The short alternative sequence in the Theatrical version has been taken into account for the running time of the extended scene.
The next morning:
After Crockett, Bowie & Co. have left town "Flaca" walks down the stairs and takes a look around in the street. Right besides her a few boxes and clothes fall off a passing waggon. While "Flaca" helps the woman getting off the waggon a bit to pick up the things the woman tells her about their journey to Texas, that her husband told her they have to leave everything to defend their land with their lives, here. However, the man already died on the way there so she and her daughter are now alone at the end of the world. At last the woman realizes that she has not even thanked "Flaca" so she quickly does so and then continues her journey.
Crockett, Bowie & Co. return to the mission:
"Beekeeper" and Bowie backbite the greenhorn Smitty who, according to their opinion, cannot really be counted as a man. Because of an obvious gun powder injury on Smitty's upper arm Travis asks if they got into a fight. The boy answers that it is nothing and looks at Bowie who adds something (hard to understand). Obviously, it has been a stupid accident. Crockett welcomes Col. Travis.
After Crockett has left the room he walks up the stairs to Bowie where they have a little talk. Bowie says he used to make everybody with a different opinion feel his knife. Crockett interrupts him and wants to know what was meant with "pyrotechnics" in the earlier conversation. Bowie hesitates for a little while then he says laughing that he knows well enough what is meant. Crockett affirms and leaves.
Crockett & "Flaca" taking a walk:
The conversation between Crockett & "Flaca" is a little longer in the Director's Cut; while he is telling about his youth she confesses her love to him to what Crockett responds that they match pretty well.
"Flaca" asks: "Is that what love does, Davy?".
After about 1 1/2 hours ("DC-time") the Director's Cut contains the Roadshow-typical "intermission".
After the "declaration of war":
From here on, some content is missing in the Theatrical version: After a short consideration, Crockett leaves the frame, too. Then a scene of several of Crockett's and Travis' men handing out building materials in the mission. Young Smitty grabs himself a big bar of wood, too, and carries it away by himself to what one of man says that he is about to become a real man. Then a little conversation at which one of Travis' men expresses his admiration for the men from Tennessee and their fighting spirit to which they smugly reply that they simply got bored at home with all the women and the whiskey.
Meanwhile Bowie & Crockett visit Col. Travis & Dickinson. While Crockett says that he definitely wants to stay Bowie says that he and his men intent to leave the lost emplacement as soon as possible. While Bowie turns away from Travis Travis explains him that he will have to face charges for refusal to obey orders. Bowie returns angry and while a short argument between him, Travis & Dickinson is developing Crockett notices a lonely horseman approaching and interrupts them. Travis wants to have a look at the horseman and leaves.
Scene change: James Bonham gets some food from Dickinson's wife, then he reports that Fannon and 1000 men will arrive in approximately 3 days. Bowie asks if this is a sure fact or just an assumption; Bonham responds that Fannon himself told him that he brings 1000 men. Bowie is kind of satisfied and decides to stay; he and Crockett leave the room. When Travis, Dickinson, his wife and Bonham are alone Travis expresses his contentment with Bonham's work. Bonham, however, does not feel good about having knowingly told Bowie the untruth – in reality Fannon has 500 men at best. This seems to be good enough for Travis; he conciliates Bonham a bit and says that he needs a new horse and should take Dickinson's. Then Travis leaves the room, too.
Sue Dickinson holds forth about Travis a bit; how he got the idea to simply give away her husband's horse and if God in person ordered him to make decision for everybody on earth. Her husband wants to calm her down but he is not completely successful. Finally Bonham adds that he has come to the same opinion as Dickinson's wife.
After the night of drinking:
Beginning here, several scenes are missing in the Theatrical version: A troop from the fort finds a camp of the Mexican army. For a moment they rave about the amount of cattle and meat standing there; but since there are also Mexican troops on patrol they immediately pull back. But too late: Santa Anna's soldiers have already noticed the intruders and start chasing them. Some horsemen from the Mexican army realize this and team up with their comrades. During the shooting at the chase two men from the fort die and one gets wounded on his horse. The rest of them reaches the fort just in time and the other men on the wall fight back Santa Anna's men. After Col. Travis has been informed he decides that there will be no more patrols because everything worth being seen could also be watched from the fort; meanwhile Sue Dickinson comforts the wives of the two dead men.
Scene change: Mayor Segine and his men ride to the fort at night to support the men, there. After everybody said hello Bowie says that he and his men finally want to leave the next morning. Segine says he and his men will follow Bowie. Then Travis welcomes Segine & his men and says that there is a lot for them to do. Bowie holds forth about Travis a bit when talking to Segine.
Scene change: While the birthday of Dickinson's daughter Lisa is being celebrated Crockett's men have prepared something special – they give the girl her first real bed. Immediately, Lisa jumps in to test it and wants her Daddy to sing her favorite song. He hesitates at first but when the girl mentions that her father has sung it at anyone of her birthdays he starts; pretty soon his wife joins in, as well.
Then "Beekeeper" grabs the girl and says at her birthday she definitely has to dance. So there is a little music and dance (young Smitty is singing) which is contagious to the other people around. Crockett and Bowie watch this from the wall; Crockett says it is so easy making people forger the horror surrounding them with just a few little things. Then he mentions that the Mexicans start building up in front of their doors.
After the Mexicans' first great attack :
"Beekeeper" informs Crockett that Parson was wounded. Crockett and his men leave the frame.
At the doctor's office the next patient is being put on the table and gets “treated” with whiskey immediately. Meanwhile Crockett & his men go to Parson who is dying. Parson thanks Crockett for the time he could spend with him and his men and tells a bit about previous common happenings before he dies, eventually.
Crockett brings Parson in a better position, then even though usually not being a godly man Davy says a prayer for the deceased and for his men. Then he leaves.
The night before the crucial attack:
A shot of the men sitting in the darkness is completely missing in the Theatrical version, the following shot has been strongly shortened.
In the Theatrical version the following shots of the men have been shortened to a different amount.
One of the man stands up angrily and says where he comes from one would get tarred and feathered for such a blasphemy, that he is a member of one the first churches in Texas, that he beliefs in the fires of hell and therefor there has to be a heaven and he is going to whip everybody who claims something else. Others rebuke him because this is a classy discussion and he should not be yelling like that and better sit down again.
Alternative shot: The man speaking in the Theatrical version can already be seen in the Theatrical version - the Director's Cut still shows the man from the previous extended scene but now turning around to the man who has been sitting in the Off.
No time difference
The crucial battle:
In the Director's Cut another Mexican commander may induce the attack.
The man who just got killed on the wall hangs there a little longer.
Here, the Director's Cut is edited differently than the Theatrical version.
No time difference
The badly wounded Crockett is lurching a little longer in the entry of the bunker with the torch in his hand.
Only the Director's Cut contains the Roadshow-typical "Exit Music" at the end.