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How the West Was Won (1962) Poster

Goofs

Revealing mistakes 

During a gun battle on the railroad train, a man is ejected from the train and knocks over a Saguaro cactus. Saguaros have a very strong framework and would not be knocked over so easily.
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Jump to: Anachronisms (1) | Character error (2) | Continuity (8) | Errors in geography (4) | Factual errors (2) | Miscellaneous (1) | Plot holes (1) | Revealing mistakes (6)

Anachronisms 

A modern water tower appears in the background of a wide shot of troops during Mexican War narration.
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Character error 

(at around 31 mins) The sign for the California wagon train lists Roger Ward as wagonmaster, but the wagonmaster, played by Robert Preston, is actually named Roger Morgan.
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After the first day of the battle of Shiloh, the movie shows Grant wavering and being steadied by Sherman's resolve.

In reality, according to Sherman, himself, it was he who was badly shaken by the day's events and Grant who stayed steadfast.
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Continuity 

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.
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When Ma and Pa Prescott are first buried, their grave sites are alongside a river. When older Eve is visiting her parent's grave, there is no sign of a river anywhere near the farm.
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Linus Rawlings ('Jimmy Stewart') is depicted as having gray hair. The body of the man they identify as Linus Rawlings to the Civil War surgeon has red hair.
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While she is refusing Morgan's proposal, Lilith's shoulder strap is on/off her shoulder between shots.
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When Roger Morgan is testing a new whip, he has it in his left hand and then it magically appears in his right hand.
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When Zeb rides up to the Arapaho and they fire at him, he races back to the train camp, gets off his horse and hits it on the rump. It races off, but after the buffalo go through the camp and Zeb is ready to leave, his horse is neatly tied to the fence.
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In the rapids a large wooden storage container falls of the raft, and then reappears in the next shot.
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When Cleve leaves the poker table on the ship, he puts down his cards twice. First he lays them down, then he throws them.
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Errors in geography 

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.
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The Sacramento River river boat is shown passing through mountainous terrain, while the Sacramento River estuary is all relentless flatland.
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Rawlings is traveling up the Ohio river to Pittsburg with the Prescott family down river. All are together the first night, with each leaving the next morning to continue their own directions. Yet, Rawlings reaches the pirates cave and then the Prescotts reach it, with both going in separate directions. How did they manage that?
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Ma and Pa Prescott are buried on the bank of the river in which they drowned. When Eve visits her parent's grave decades later, there is no sign of a river anywhere near the farm.
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Factual errors 

When the buffalo hunters arrive on the Union Pacific, the steam locomotive is a wood burning loco, recognized by its large, funnel-shaped smoke stack which contains a spark arrestor. Such locomotives were used by the Central Pacific, which only had access to wood as a fuel before the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed. In contrast, the Union Pacific used coal, which was easily available to them, not the least from the fields in the Rockies, while it had little access to trees for fuel on the plains and in the mountains. Its coal burning locomotives had long straight smoke stacks without spark arrestors.
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When the wagon train, on its way to California, is attacked by Indians, it is in a mountainous area, yet the Indians are identified as Cheyenne. The Cheyenne tribe was a Great Plains tribe, and would not have been that far west.
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Miscellaneous 

When the buffalo stampede through the railway camp, the buffalo cause the roof of an underground bunker to collapse. However, no buffalo are shown to be injured or killed as a result.
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Plot holes 

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).
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Revealing mistakes 

During the final scene of the movie when the camera is looking down at a modern freeway cloverleaf, the helicopter landing struts can be seen on the extreme left and right sides of the screen.
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The scene in which Linus Rawlings (James Stewart) arrives at the Prescott camp, it is supposedly at night. However, the illumination and environment shows as if it was daylight.
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Tire tracks in the scene where the Indians attack the wagon train.
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When Linus Rawlings throws a dagger in to the chest of one of the bandits, the wire guiding it can clearly be seen against the tent.
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Linus and Eve die three years apart, yet both their graves look fresh when Zeb comes back from the war. Although the grave of Linus is empty, so it and the headstone may have been placed at the same time Eve's grave was dug.
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At the very end of the movie, when the camera flies under the Golden Gate bridge, it and it's operator can be seen reflected in the windshield of the (presumable) helicopter used for filming.
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See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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