7.1/10
15,145
146 user 34 critic

How the West Was Won (1962)

Approved | | Western | 20 February 1963 (USA)
A family saga covering several decades of Westward expansion in the nineteenth century - including the Gold Rush, the Civil War, and the building of the railroads.

Writer:

Reviews
Popularity
3,580 ( 1,415)

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON TV
ON DISC
ALL
Won 3 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Rio Grande (1950)
Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A cavalry officer posted on the Rio Grande must deal with murderous raiding Apaches, his son who's a risk-taking recruit and his wife from whom he has been separated for many years.

Director: John Ford
Stars: John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Ben Johnson
Adventure | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A Union Cavalry outfit is sent behind Confederate lines in strength to destroy a rail/supply center. Along with them is sent a doctor who causes instant antipathy between him and the ... See full summary »

Director: John Ford
Stars: John Wayne, William Holden, Constance Towers
Action | Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A senator, who became famous for killing a notorious outlaw, returns for the funeral of an old friend and tells the truth about his deed.

Director: John Ford
Stars: James Stewart, John Wayne, Vera Miles
Fort Apache (1948)
Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

At Fort Apache, an honorable and veteran war captain finds conflict when his regime is placed under the command of a young, glory hungry lieutenant colonel with no respect for the local Indian tribe.

Director: John Ford
Stars: John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Shirley Temple
The Alamo (1960)
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

In 1836, a small band of soldiers sacrifice their lives in hopeless combat against a massive army in order to prevent a tyrant from smashing the new Republic of Texas.

Director: John Wayne
Stars: John Wayne, Richard Widmark, Laurence Harvey
Drama | History | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

The Cheyenne, tired of broken U.S. government promises, head for their ancestral lands but a sympathetic cavalry officer is tasked to bring them back to their reservation.

Director: John Ford
Stars: Richard Widmark, Carroll Baker, Karl Malden
Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Captain Nathan Brittles, on the eve of retirement, takes out a last patrol to stop an impending massive Indian attack. Encumbered by women who must be evacuated, Brittles finds his mission imperiled.

Director: John Ford
Stars: John Wayne, Joanne Dru, John Agar
The Searchers (1956)
Adventure | Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

An American Civil War veteran embarks on a journey to rescue his niece from the Comanches.

Director: John Ford
Stars: John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles
Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Ranch owner Katie Elder's four sons determine to avenge the murder of their father and the swindling of their mother.

Director: Henry Hathaway
Stars: John Wayne, Dean Martin, Martha Hyer
Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A corrupt marshal is pressured by his army friend into negotiating the release of white captives of the Comanches, but finds that their reintegration into society has its consequences.

Director: John Ford
Stars: James Stewart, Richard Widmark, Shirley Jones
The Shootist (1976)
Drama | Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A dying gunfighter spends his last days looking for a way to die with a minimum of pain and a maximum of dignity.

Director: Don Siegel
Stars: John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Ron Howard
Rio Bravo (1959)
Action | Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A small-town sheriff in the American West enlists the help of a cripple, a drunk, and a young gunfighter in his efforts to hold in jail the brother of the local bad guy.

Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
Edit

Storyline

Setting off on a journey to the west in the 1830s, the Prescott family run into a man named Linus, who helps them fight off a pack of thieves. Linus then marries daughter Eve Prescott (Carroll Baker), and 30 years later goes off to fight in the Civil War with their son, with bloody results. Eve's sister, Lily, heads farther west and has adventures with a professional gambler, stretching all the way to San Francisco and into the 1880s. Written by Jwelch5742

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The epic journey of four generations of Americans who carved a country with their bare hands See more »

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

20 February 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das war der wilde Westen  »

Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$12,150,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(35 mm prints)| (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Metrocolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

2.89 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Richard Widmark and Henry Fonda appeared in four movies together, the others being " Warlock ", " Madigan " and " The Swarm ". They were both married to the same woman, the socialite Susan Blanchard. See more »

Goofs

There is no explanation of why Sheriff Ramsey is fine in one scene and wearing a bandage on his forehead in the next, immediately following. (there was a deleted or unfilmed scene where Zeb knocked Ramsey out when the Sheriff tried to stop him from going after the train robbers). See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Narrator: [as the camera pans over the Rocky Mountains] This land has a name today, and is marked on maps. But, the names and the marks and the maps all had to be won, won from nature and from primitive man.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits: Except for historical events and characters, the events and characters depicted in this photoplay are fictitious and any similarity to actual persons or events is purely coincidental. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) See more »

Soundtracks

Home in the Meadow
(uncredited)
Music by Alfred Newman
Performed by Imogene Clark, Carl Fortina and The MGM Symphony Orchestra
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Bound for the promised land, indeed.
15 April 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

One of the last great epic movies to come out of MGM that was a roaring success, How the West Was Won still has enough quality about it to warrant high praise. The story that drives the film on was suggested by the series of the same name that featured in "Life" magazine 1959. Narrative is formed around one family, the Prescott's, who set out on a journey West in 1839. They and their offspring fill out five segments of film that are directed by three different men, "The Rivers", "The Plains" & "The Outlaws" is under the guidance of Henry Hathaway, and "The Civil War" by John Ford and "The Railroad" by George Marshall.

Filmed in the unique Cinerama format, which in a nutshell is three cameras filming at once to project a fully formed experience for the human eye, the production has an all star cast and four supreme cinematographers aiding the story. To name all the cast would take forever, but in the main all of the major parts were filled by stars who had already headlined a movie previously. The cinematographers are naturally key since such a sprawling story inevitably has sprawling vistas, they come up trumps with some truly special work: William H. Daniels, Milton Krasner, Charles Lang Jr. & Joseph LaShelle, four great names who help to make the film a poetic beauty.

As a whole it's undeniably far from flawless, complaints such as it running out of steam towards the end (the irony of it since a steam train features prominently), and the plot contrivances, are fair enough. However, when the film is good, it's real good: raft in the rapids, Cheyene attack, buffalo stampede and train robbery, each of them are good enough to be a highlight in separate movies. Even the songs are pleasant, particularly when they revolve around the effervescent Debbie Reynolds, while home format transfers are now finally up to a standard worthy of investment, time and cash wise.

Hard to dislike for a Western fan, and carrying enough about it to lure in the casual viewer, How the West Was Won really is a case of they don't make them like they used to. 8/10


21 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page