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Union Pacific (1939)

Passed  -  Drama | Western  -  5 May 1939 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 1,379 users  
Reviews: 25 user | 11 critic

One of the last bills signed by President Lincoln authorizes pushing the Union Pacific Railroad across the wilderness to California. But financial opportunist Asa Barrows hopes to profit ... See full summary »

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(screen play), (screen play), 7 more credits »
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Title: Union Pacific (1939)

Union Pacific (1939) on IMDb 7.2/10

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Jeff Butler
...
...
Lynne Overman ...
...
Robert Barrat ...
Duke Ring
...
Cordray
Stanley Ridges ...
General Casement
Henry Kolker ...
Asa M. Barrows
Francis McDonald ...
General Dodge
Willard Robertson ...
Oakes Ames
Harold Goodwin ...
Calvin
...
Mrs. Calvin
Richard Lane ...
Sam Reed
Edit

Storyline

One of the last bills signed by President Lincoln authorizes pushing the Union Pacific Railroad across the wilderness to California. But financial opportunist Asa Barrows hopes to profit from obstructing it. Chief troubleshooter Jeff Butler has his hands full fighting Barrows' agent, gambler Sid Campeau; Campeau's partner Dick Allen is Jeff's war buddy and rival suitor for engineer's daughter Molly Monahan. Who will survive the effort to push the railroad through at any cost? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

"Union Pacific" is coming!

Genres:

Drama | Western

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 May 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Aliança de Aço  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

For the Indian attack on the train, Paramount hired 100 Navajo Indian extras. See more »

Goofs

The golden spike ceremony shown in the movie is not true. The golden spike was lowered into an auger hole not driven. Gold is a soft metal and striking it as they did in the movie would have severely damaged it. The original golden spike now at Stanford University shows no mallet marks on the head. See more »

Quotes

Monahan: There's nothing like hearing an engine whistle in the still night.
See more »


Soundtracks

Battle Hymn of the Republic
(1861) (uncredited)
Music by William Steffe (circa 1856)
Played as background music when Lincoln signs the railroad bill
Reprised at the golden spike ceremony
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Westward With Mr. DeMille & The Railroad
20 December 2000 | by (Forest Ranch, CA) – See all my reviews

Moving across the American wilderness, east to west, the mighty UNION PACIFIC Railroad stretches to meet its rival - the Central Pacific - taming a continent with steel rails. Overcoming Nature's disasters, hostile natives & corrupt politicians, the engines bring with them the people whose hopes are inextricably tied into the railroad's success or failure.

In 1939, Hollywood's Golden Year, kingpin director Cecil B. DeMille presented his biggest, flashiest film yet. It was to be nothing less than the story of how the American West was conquered by the great railroads & her indomitable builders. To realize DeMille's vision on the screen, Paramount allocated hundreds of extras & large coffers of money to the project. Authentic rolling stock was acquired. The president of the contemporary Union Pacific enthusiastically sent his finest track layers to work in the film. The movie would boost train wrecks (two of ‘em), Indian attacks, assorted villainies & a compelling love triangle.

DeMille demanded scrupulous attention to detail and his crowd scenes are very well conceived & produced. His early reels tend to be a bit preachy in touting the virtues of the railroad, but action scenes quickly follow which amply compensate for this. DeMille's subject matter & obvious patriotism help him to avoid the lapses of taste & vulgarities in which he tended to stray in many of his other film forays.

Even with a fake Irish brogue, Barbara Stanwyck charms in her role as a railroad postmistress & engineer's daughter. Feisty & volatile, always great fun to watch, it's easy to see why she's loved by both Joel McCrea (the hero) & Robert Preston (the antihero). Both gentlemen give good rousing performances in roles that might have strayed into the stereotypical, but never do.

Brian Donlevy, as the villain, gives another vivid portrait in what is rather a small role, but very much like the one he would play that same year in DESTRY RIDES AGAIN.

Akim Tamiroff & Lynne Overman are especially enjoyable as McCrea's scruffy, rather repulsive security enforcers; with whip & guns, these are two hombres you wouldn't want to tangle with. Robert Barrat as a murdering bully & Regis Toomey as a sweet-natured Irish worker, give impressive cameos. Anthony Quinn appears for a couple of scenes as a gambler who unwisely pulls a gun on McCrea, and lovely Evelyn Keyes has a scant few screen moments as a telegrapher's wife.

Sharp-eyed movie mavens may (or may not) be able to spot among the uncredited players Monte Blue, Ward Bond, Iron Eyes Cody, Will Geer, Noble Johnson, Elmo Lincoln & Mala playing various Indians, gamblers or railwaymen.

It would be most intriguing to run UNION PACIFIC in a double bill with John Ford's 1924 epic THE IRON HORSE, which tells the same historical story, but with a different artistic tack & fictional characters.


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