Atomic Home Video joins Warner Brothers, HBO and Discovery Channel as winners of the 2008 Telly Awards. The prestigious Tellys are coveted by over 14,000 entrants submitting their best work. For Atomic, At the Alamo was their sole entry and achieved a Telly Bronze statue, made by the same people who mint the Academy Awards.
“We accept this award on behalf of the collectors we serve in that it validates, once again, that the legitimacy of vintage toys, especially Marx, and especially that the story of the Alamo is not just still viable, but a necessity in our world to teach our kids about heroism, nobility and sacrifice in the best interests of our nation,” observes producer Kathy Kern.
At the Alamo features Fess Parker, the original Davy Crockett in Walt Disney’s famous television program that created a sensation in the 1950’s. In the third and final installment, Davy is compelled to help defend the Alamo with fatal results.
At the Alamo follows the history, movies, TV shows, toys and vintage Marx playsets for an hour-long romp through history, pop-culture and toys. “It is a very difficult film to describe,” says director and writer Rusty Kern, “but it follows the toys along with media, such as the John Wayne movie, right up to their popularity in the present.”
12 months in the making, the producers arrived in California to film at the famous Wilderness Fort at Disneyland, at Fess Parker’s famous vineyards, then on to Orlando, Florida, and then moved down South for extensive on-location filming in Texas. Atomics new wide-screen cameras lensed at John Wayne’s Brackettville Alamo movie set with Virginia Shahan who, with her husband “insisted, sort of” that John Wayne bring his massive production to their Texas town for filming. Happy actually built the Alamo movie set featured in the Batjac production and many others, including “Two Rode Together” and, now, “At the Alamo.” Then it was on to San Antonio, site of the actual battle, to film the Alamo shrine. Following that, Chicago became the next location for the movie where interviews with author and historian, Frank Thompson were filmed.
“Frank was the perfect choice to invest our film with historical perspective and gravitas,” say the Kerns. “He was among the first consultants for Disney’s 2004 big screen feature “The Alamo” and, like us, is an advocate for that film. He has written too many books to mention besides being the go-to commentary guy on John Wayne’s “Hondo” and many other DVD releases. He was the perfect, and now that I think of it, only possible choice to be the on-camera face of At The Alamo.” He has just released the book based on the hit TV series Lost, and is also revered for his four books on The Alamo Movies, The Alamo screenplays, The Alamo A Cultural History, the Alamo a novelizaation, and King Arthur, based on the recent movie. “We were honored to have Frank’s participation,” Kern wrote.
But that wasn’t all. Additional months of filming were required for the Alamo toys and playset dioramas and featured in the movie. The actual siege of the Alamo is recreated using over 600 Marx vintage figures which are all in motion in this jaw-dropping segment. Mexican artillery actually fires and hundreds of troops attack. The sequence has been cited for ingenuity and unexpected spectacle.
There was also the recreation of a theater in 1960 doing a first run showing of John Wayne’s “The Alamo.” And that, for the producers, was the final location for the film.
One of the greatest contributions to At The Alamo is the unforgettable music of Mike Boldt. Taking Dimitri Tiompkin’s music and adapting it, AAA’s opening credits music is an updated, almost spaghetti-western styling on the famous Ballad of the Alamo sung by Marty Robbins. Other music beautifully underscores and heightens the entire movie. “Viewers may be surprised to find they become emotionally caught up in the movie, and that would be entirely creditable to Mike’s fabulous music,” says director Kern. The music CD was licensed and produced by Lee Pfeiffer’s incredible RetroMedia organization, a must on the list for any fan of cool movies and other retro stuff.
After another 3 months of editing, the film was released as a 2008 production. For all of that, it is still a remarkably small budgeted movie. “More like ‘no-budget’” say the Kerns. “It’s really nice the judges were not just looking for films that had lots of money behind them, but lots of heart. We are deeply honored.”
Atomic publishes Playset Magazine and produces DVDs on the subject of vintage toys, especially Marx playsets.
Copies of the music can be ordered at Amazon.com or: http://www.cinemaretro.com/index.php?/archives/299-JOHN-WAYNES-THE-ALAMO-TRIBUTE-CD-BY-MIKE-BOLDT-IS-BACK!.html
And you can visit Mike Boldt at http://www.mikeboldt.com/
Frank Thompson website is: http://www.frankthompson.tv/