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Union Pacific (1939)

Passed | | Drama, Western | 5 May 1939 (USA)
In 1862, Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads compete westward across the wilderness toward California.

Director:

Cecil B. DeMille

Writers:

Walter DeLeon (screen play), C. Gardner Sullivan (screen play) | 3 more credits »
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Barbara Stanwyck ... Mollie Monahan
Joel McCrea ... Jeff Butler
Akim Tamiroff ... Fiesta
Robert Preston ... Dick Allen
Lynne Overman ... Leach Overmile
Brian Donlevy ... Sid Campeau
Robert Barrat ... Duke Ring
Anthony Quinn ... Cordray
Stanley Ridges ... General Casement
Henry Kolker ... Asa M. Barrows
Francis McDonald ... General Dodge
Willard Robertson ... Oakes Ames
Harold Goodwin ... Calvin
Evelyn Keyes ... Mrs. Calvin
Richard Lane ... Sam Reed
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Storyline

One of the last bills signed by President Lincoln authorizes pushing the Union Pacific Railroad across the wilderness to California. But financial opportunist Asa Barrows hopes to profit from obstructing it. Chief troubleshooter Jeff Butler has his hands full fighting Barrows' agent, gambler Sid Campeau; Campeau's partner Dick Allen is Jeff's war buddy and rival suitor for engineer's daughter Molly Monahan. Who will survive the effort to push the railroad through at any cost? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

"Union Pacific" is coming!

Genres:

Drama | Western

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 May 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Pacific Express See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"Union Pacific" was one of the films chosen from Hollywood to represent the United States in what would have been the first Cannes festival in September 1939. Because of the war, the event was postponed until 1946. In 2002, a retrospective jury looked at some of the titles that had been chosen for 1939 and awarded De Mille's film a belated Palme d'Or. See more »

Goofs

Position of Mollie's left arm when Jeff starts to read his letter on the handcar. See more »

Quotes

Mollie Monahan: [Runs to find Paddy O'Rourke shot during a poker game and dying, whom she had chided earlier about gambling] Paddy! Paddy O'Rourke.
[takes his hand]
Paddy O'Rourke: [life fading, eyes staring blankly] The letter Mollie... it came?
Mollie Monahan: The letter?
Paddy O'Rourke: From Nora...
Mollie Monahan: Yes, Paddy.
[looks around frantically, reaches up and touches paper in Leach Overmile's shirt pocket]
Mollie Monahan: Paddy's letter!
[snatches paper from Leach's pocket, puts it into Paddy's hand]
Paddy O'Rourke: Would you be readin' it to me?
[...]
See more »


Soundtracks

(Oh My Darling) Clementine
(1884) (uncredited)
Music by Percy Montrose
Played during the opening credits and as background music often
Hummed, whistled and sung a cappella by Robert Preston
Hummed by Adrian Morris
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Impressive train wrecks seemed to be DeMille's specialty...
10 July 2009 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

UNION PACIFIC is one Cecil B. DeMille film that could have used 1939's Technicolor to tell the sprawling story of the pioneers who built the railroads that united east and west. Nevertheless, DeMille does get across the enormous amount of work involved in building the rails while a lot of skullduggery was going on behind the scenes to prevent a team of workers to reach the midpoint first.

JOEL McCREA is the perfect western hero for DeMille's story and gives his usual easy performance as the enforcer who has to keep the villains from halting progress on the rails. BRIAN DONLEVY makes a perfect heel and ROBERT PRESTON shows genuine charm and gives a double-layered performance as McCrea's longtime pal caught under the influence of the bad guys who want to cause havoc. REGIS TOOMEY is underused in a very brief role as an ill-fated Irish rail worker.

BARBARA STANWYCK gives her Irish accent a good try and, while not always successful, delivers a very likable performance as the post office gal along for the ride. ANTHONY QUINN has a brief supporting role as a badman, but the most colorful support comes from AKIM TAMIROFF as Fiesta, the man with the whip, and LYNNE OVERMAN, both playing McCrea's scruffy bodyguards. And boy, does he need them! EVELYN KEYES has one line and disappears. But DeMille keeps track of all his extras, using them effectively in all the big mob scenes both indoor and out.

Again, Technicolor was still new in 1939 but GONE WITH THE WIND was using seven Technicolor cameras and DeMille probably had no choice but to film in B&W. Let's just say, this is the kind of story that cried for Technicolor which may have made some of the process shots less noticeable for backgrounds shot in a studio.

DeMille's tendency to let his films run over two hours is present here. At least twenty minutes or more could easily have been cut to keep the story in a tighter mode.

For DeMille fans, definitely worth seeing.


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