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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.

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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

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:

It's here! The mightiest adventure ever filmed! 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:

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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of only two movies (the other being The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962)) filmed in the true three-screen Cinerama process, and both were also the only Cinerama features that were shown in regular theaters after their first runs. Other Cinerama films, such as This Is Cinerama (1952) and Cinerama Holiday (1955), were more documentary-style in nature; "West" and "Brothers Grimm" told fictional stories. As well, none of the other Cinerama films were ever shown in regular theaters as these travelogues and documentaries were produced only to show off the process, as opposed to telling a story. It would have been pointless to show these in a "regular" format. Other feature films such as It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963) were touted as Cinerama, but were actually filmed in a one-camera widescreen process, such as Ultra Panavision 70, and projected on a curved Cinerama screen. See more »

Goofs

While she is refusing Morgan's proposal, Lilith's shoulder strap is on/off her shoulder between shots. 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.
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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 Inside the Actors Studio: Episode #8.5 (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Rock of Ages
(1763) (uncredited)
Music by Thomas Hastings
Lyrics by Augustus Montague Toplady
Performed by all at the Prescotts' burial
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A Great Epic... and I Generally Detest Westerns
28 January 2001 | by (Pittsburgh, PA USA) – See all my reviews

I have not been fortunate to view this film in its original Cinerama format, but I have seen various prints of it over the years, and have recently watched the newly released DVD version.

Even in DVD's digital format, I can see how the color in some sections of the film has faded -- a pity, for there are vistas of incredible beauty in this film.

There are several reasons why this film works. The photography is simply breathtaking. The story is epic in proportions, yet as simple as the pioneers. Alfred Newman's score is lovely; This is the best film music that he had written since The Song of Bernadette. Ken Darby's vocal arrangements add just the right feel of authenticity to the sonic scheme. And, the actors are truly actors, not just "personalities". I absolutely fell in love with Thelma Ritter, Agnes Moorehead, Karl Malden, and Walter Brennan. These were just the "supporting" members of the cast. Debbie Reynolds and Gregory Peck made a great duo, James Stewart was independent, strong, yet vulnerable, and Carol Baker was sweet, if just a little conniving.

I was surprised how many times while watching the film I was moved to tears -- and not always during the sad scenes. (The scene at her father's grave when Carol Baker sends her son off to war, long after her husband has also gone, is very moving.) What was it that made me so misty-eyed? I found myself getting caught up in the lives of these pioneers, with their hopes, dreams, and disappointments, and all too human frailties.

Now for the flip side -- I must admit that I cringed when I heard Spencer Tracey's narration stating that "the west had to be won...from primitive man." It made me think about how one-sided this presentation was with regards to our treatment of Native Americans. George Peppard's character is an ally of the Native Americans, but this plot development occurs far too late to provide any kind of real balance to the story.

In the final analysis, we have a film that is not very politically correct, but is a tale told well, filmed beautifully, about people who sacrificed everything they had to pursue their dream.


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