7.2/10
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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.

Director:

Writers:

(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

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Jeff Butler
...
...
Lynne Overman ...
...
...
Duke Ring
...
Cordray
Stanley Ridges ...
General Casement
Henry Kolker ...
Asa M. Barrows
Francis McDonald ...
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:

Not Rated | 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

Robert Preston, who played important roles in several Cecil B. DeMille productions, not only disliked the director personally but felt he was inept at directing actors. The scene where Preston, Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea are trapped in the boxcar took two weeks to film and, according to Preston, DeMille had nothing but "Action," "Cut," and "Print" to say to the actors. He didn't seem to care about scenes that did not include action or spectacle. When Preston became a bigger star, he turned down offers to appear in other DeMille films and avoided any relationship or contact with him. 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

Fiesta: I look around and pretty soon I marry my wife in Santa Fe. Ah, the best woodchopper in the country. You bet you my life, the best. But one day she gets bite by a rattlesnake.
Mollie Monahan: She did? Did the doctor get there in time?
Fiesta: No, she's already dead.
Mollie Monahan: Your wife?
Fiesta: My wife? No, no, the snake.
See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

I've Been Working on the Railroad
(uncredited)
Traditional
Played during the opening credits and as background music often
Sung by the railroad men
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Impressive train wrecks seemed to be DeMille's specialty...
10 July 2009 | by (U.S.A.) – 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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