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How the West Was Won (1962)

 -  Western  -  20 February 1963 (USA)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 12,767 users  
Reviews: 137 user | 33 critic

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.

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Title: How the West Was Won (1962)

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Won 3 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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Storyline

Sprawling epic which follows the Prescotts, an emigrant family through four generations, from the Erie Canal in the 1830's to their settled home in the West a half a century later. On the way they encounter river pirates, and escape with the help of fur trapper Linus Rawlings, who subsequently marries one of their daughters, Eve. The parents are drowned on a foundering raft, and the other daughter Lilith becomes a riverboat singer and catches the eye of a genteel adventurer Cleve Van Valen. They cross the plains together in a wagon train and make and lose a fortune in California; meanwhile Linus has turned farmer and, comes the Civil War, joins the Union Army and is killed at the Battle of Shiloh. One of his sons Zeb also joins the army and stays after the war as a cavalry officer and is sent to Colorado to help guard the pioneering railroad against the Indians, whose land they are crossing. By this time Lilith is the elderly lady of the family, having survived long enough to see the ... Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A FABULOUS ROMANTIC ADVENTURE See more »

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

20 February 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La conquista del Oeste  »

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  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was inspired by a factual series on the settling of the West of the same name that had appeared in 'LIFE' magazine and which had been followed by a identically titled 2-LP set of western songs sung mostly by Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney. Many of the songs on the record album were also used in the film soundtrack, like "Bound for the Promised Land" and "What Was Your Name in the States?" See more »

Goofs

During the train robbery sequence at the end of the film, the train consisted of a caboose, two flat cars, and two passenger cars. During the gun fight, the two flatcars and the caboose are separated from the rest of he train. However, the other half of the train consists of only the coal car and the engine. The passenger cars are missing. They reappear later when the train is derailed. 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 »

Connections

Referenced in The Golden Girls: Yes, We Have No Havanas (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

Nine Hundred Miles from Home
(1962) (uncredited)
Music by Alfred Newman
Lyrics by Ken Darby
Sung by a Chorus during Intermission
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

More quantity than quality, but a truly all-star cast

Watching a letterboxed version of "How the West Was Won," I noticed the dividing lines on the screen, and it was clear that much of the picture was still missing even in this format. But neither hindered my enjoyment of this sprawling epic, even if James R. Webb's Oscar winning screenplay left something to be desired. Alfred Newman's music score is terrific, and so is that all-star cast. Unlike those disaster flicks of the 70s like "The Poseidon Adventure" and "The Towering Inferno" that claimed to be stuffed with stars but actually boasted "names" (usually familiar performers, primarily from TV, who rarely headlined a first class feature), "How the West Was Won" has the genuine article. John Wayne, James Stewart, Gregory Peck, Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda, George Peppard, Robert Preston, Carroll Baker, and Debbie Reynolds may mean little at the ticket windows of the 90s (and many of them are dead, anyway), but all were above the title stars who carried their own films at the box-office in the early 60s.

Three directors helmed this project but I'd be hard pressed to distinguish whether John Ford, George Marshall or Henry Hathaway were behind the camera during any particular episode if the opening credits didn't identify each segment and its director. I suppose "How the West Was Won" is more quantity than quality, but it's entertaining overall.


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