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How the West Was Won (1962)

Approved  |   |  Western  |  20 February 1963 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 13,408 users  
Reviews: 139 user | 34 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)

How the West Was Won (1962) on IMDb 7.1/10

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



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Brigid Bazlen ...


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


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




Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

20 February 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das war der wilde Westen  »

Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)


$12,150,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(35 mm prints)| (Westrex Recording System)


(Metrocolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

2.89 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


John Ford's habit was to always sit beside the camera while it was filming so he could watch the action intently. Unfortunately because of the triple lens on the Cinerama camera, he kept appearing in shot until director of photography Joseph LaShelle hit on the idea of building a rig that allowed Ford to sit above the camera. See more »


While she is refusing Morgan's proposal, Lilith's shoulder strap is on/off her shoulder between shots. See more »


[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 »


Spin-off How the West Was Won (1976) See more »


Come Share My Life
(1962) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Alfred Newman
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A Grand Epic
20 August 1999 | by (Morristown, NJ) – See all my reviews

I'm not a fan of westerns in particular, but this magnificent epic is an exception for me because it has all the wonderful elements of a sprawling historical epic that only Hollywood could do so wonderfully in the 50s and 60s. And yes, I embrace it for holding to a perspective that today's PC revisionists who see evil in everything associated with the rise of America as a great nation are always so quick to condemn. While this is by no means a flawless look at history, it is only those who dare to liken the American pioneers with "Nazis" as one reviewer did who end up "creating history" more than a film like this does.

43 of 76 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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