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The role of "Jim Bowie" was Alan Ladd's first under his contract with Warner Bros. As Bosley Crowther remarked in his New York Times review, the film bears little resemblance to Paul Wellman's best-selling book, in which the legendary Bowie was portrayed as "something of a rascal in New Orleans in the days of Jean Lafitte." The real-life Jim Bowie was born in 1796, in either Georgia, Kentucky or Tennessee. As a young man, he moved to Texas, becoming a naturalized Mexican citizen, and in 1830, enlisted in the Texas Rangers. After fighting against the Indians, he joined the rebellion against Mexico and formed a small volunteer force. In February 1836, Bowie was designated the commander of the Alamo along with William B. Travis. When Bowie fell ill during the Mexican siege of the Alamo, however, Travis took over as sole commander. The rebels were defeated by a superior Mexican force, and Bowie was killed during the battle on March 6, 1836. Bowie is credited with inventing the Bowie knife, a weapon widely used in the old West. According to Crowther, "the early career of Bowie is thoroughly fabled and carpentered" in the film. Although Richard Crane is listed in the role of "John Bowie" in the CBCS, the part was actually played by Dick Paxton.
Since Alfred Paget's portrayal of Jim Bowie in the 1915 Triangle production, The Martyrs of the Alamo, Bowie has appeared in several films. Two films in which the character is featured prominently are the 1950 Universal production Comanche Territory, which was directed by George Sherman and starred MacDonald Carey and Maureen O'Hara, and the 1955 Republic The Last Command, which was directed by Frank Lloyd and starred Sterling Hayden. The Adventures of Jim Bowie, a television series starring Scott Forbes in the title role, aired on the ABC network from September 1956 through August 1958.