John Wayne’s 1960 film The Alamo has been marred in the home viewing market for years. The director’s cut or “roadshow edition” was badly damaged over the years in storage and was never even released on DVD because of such poor quality amongst the cut and later restored scenes. The standard, shorter version of the film whose quality is fine has been released to DVD but despite popularity has still not made it to Blu-Ray. Screenings on TV, namely Turner Classic Movies, become a guessing game of which version it will be. TCM routinely aired the director’s cut, even with variances in quality, but it was not transferred to HD for the broadcast. Try watching a sub-VHS quality movie through an HD channel and on a flat-screen HD TV. Yeah, it ain’t pretty. Even the standard version was not given justice in a showing on one of the western channels about two years ago.
However, for those who have Xfinity, there may be some relief. No, the director’s cut is not available, but the standard one recently arrived to Streampix, which is a free OnDemand service through the cable provider. I gave it a watch the other day, expecting to see the usual quality but was instead blown away by a superb HD transfer. The format has been stretched to full-screen, but the clarity is insanely beautiful. I’ve seen this movie probably 50 times in my life, yet somehow on this evening, I felt as though I was watching it for the first time.
This is perhaps the best The Alamo has looked since its release 59 years ago, except for its time on the big screen in 1960 and occasional showings in Texas. If you have Xfinity, do a search for this movie. For most users, it will be entirely free. But even if there were a charge (most likely a nominal $2.99), it would be worth it. I’ve never been one to sing the praises of Comcast, but this is one thing they most definitely got right.