7.1/10
14,340
143 user 33 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

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

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

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

The Alamo (1960)
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

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
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
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
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
Drama | History | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

When the government agency fails to deliver even the meager supplies due by treaty to the proud Cheyenne tribe in their barren desert reserve, the starving Indians have taken more abuse ... See full summary »

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

During the Alaska gold rush, prospector George sends partner Sam to Seattle to bring his fiancée but when it turns out that she married another man, Sam returns with a pretty substitute, the hostess of the Henhouse dance hall.

Director: Henry Hathaway
Stars: John Wayne, Stewart Granger, Ernie Kovacs
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
The Searchers (1956)
Adventure | Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A Civil War veteran embarks on a journey to rescue his niece from an Indian tribe.

Director: John Ford
Stars: John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles
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 further 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:

It's here! The mightiest adventure ever filmed! 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

Since the three lenses of the Cinerama camera sat at angles to each other on the camera itself, it was very problematic for actors to film a scene as they would in front of a single-lensed camera. When their images were projected onto the three panels of the Cinerama screen, it would appear as though the actors were looking either slightly up-screen or slightly down-screen, and not directly at their fellow actors. This is very evident in a few scenes in the previous Cinerama film, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962). However, by the time this film went into production, this problem was solved somewhat. In order to compensate for the lens angles, actors would have to look one-third of the way in and toward the camera, and pretend that they were looking at their fellow actors. Hence, when their images were projected onto the Cinerama screen, it would appear as though they were looking at each other. It was a very difficult process for actors, which is one of the reasons that three-panel Cinerama was abandoned for narrative films after this film was released. See more »

Goofs

The Prescotts were shown traveling west on the Erie Canal, then floating on a raft through Ohio (where Eve Prescott settled). The Erie Canal led to Buffalo, then via the Great Lakes, bypassing Ohio. 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

Featured in Special Collector's Edition: Especial Scope (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

A Railroader's Bride I'll Be
(uncredited)
Music by Alfred Newman
Sung by Judy Henske
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 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Has anyone watched this on a Curved 4K television? bobralph2001
Missing scene? sargon19552003
Most disturbing scene ... RenlyStannis
is Dora Hawkins killed with his family? zalman1972
Other frontier movie suggestions (similar to this one) dollvalley
How much $ to make this in 2008?? madmadrid
Discuss How the West Was Won (1962) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page