30 user 18 critic

Union Pacific (1939)

Not Rated | | Drama, Western | 5 May 1939 (USA)
In 1862, Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads compete westward across the wilderness toward California.



(screen play), (screen play) | 3 more credits »

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


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Duke Ring
General Dodge
Oakes Ames
Mrs. Calvin
Sam Reed


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


"Union Pacific" is coming!


Drama | Western


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

5 May 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Aliança de Aço  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Dick Allen (Robert Preston) asks, "Where does he keep his 'Rule G'?", meaning a bottle of whiskey. This is a reference to Rule G: "The use of intoxicants or narcotics is prohibited", one of 12 rules in standard code adopted by the Association of American Railroads. See more »


Position of Mollie's left arm when Jeff starts to read his letter on the handcar. See more »


Mollie Monahan: Or you'll be dancing with your feet off the ground. And that's not a pretty sight.
See more »


Featured in 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year (2009) See more »


Gwine to Rune All Night (De Camptown Races)
(1850) (uncredited)
Music by Stephen Foster
Played in the gambling tent
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Impressive train wrecks seemed to be DeMille's specialty...
10 July 2009 | by See all my reviews

UNION PACIFIC is one Cecil B. DeMille film that could have used 1939's Technicolor to tell the sprawling story of the pioneers who built the railroads that united east and west. Nevertheless, DeMille does get across the enormous amount of work involved in building the rails while a lot of skullduggery was going on behind the scenes to prevent a team of workers to reach the midpoint first.

JOEL McCREA is the perfect western hero for DeMille's story and gives his usual easy performance as the enforcer who has to keep the villains from halting progress on the rails. BRIAN DONLEVY makes a perfect heel and ROBERT PRESTON shows genuine charm and gives a double-layered performance as McCrea's longtime pal caught under the influence of the bad guys who want to cause havoc. REGIS TOOMEY is underused in a very brief role as an ill-fated Irish rail worker.

BARBARA STANWYCK gives her Irish accent a good try and, while not always successful, delivers a very likable performance as the post office gal along for the ride. ANTHONY QUINN has a brief supporting role as a badman, but the most colorful support comes from AKIM TAMIROFF as Fiesta, the man with the whip, and LYNNE OVERMAN, both playing McCrea's scruffy bodyguards. And boy, does he need them! EVELYN KEYES has one line and disappears. But DeMille keeps track of all his extras, using them effectively in all the big mob scenes both indoor and out.

Again, Technicolor was still new in 1939 but GONE WITH THE WIND was using seven Technicolor cameras and DeMille probably had no choice but to film in B&W. Let's just say, this is the kind of story that cried for Technicolor which may have made some of the process shots less noticeable for backgrounds shot in a studio.

DeMille's tendency to let his films run over two hours is present here. At least twenty minutes or more could easily have been cut to keep the story in a tighter mode.

For DeMille fans, definitely worth seeing.

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