7.1/10
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166 user 38 critic

How the West Was Won (1962)

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:

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

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Carroll Baker ... Eve Prescott
Lee J. Cobb ... Marshal Lou Ramsey
Henry Fonda ... Jethro Stuart
Carolyn Jones ... Julie Rawlings
Karl Malden ... Zebulon Prescott
Gregory Peck ... Cleve Van Valen
George Peppard ... Zeb Rawlings
Robert Preston ... Roger Morgan
Debbie Reynolds ... Lilith Prescott
James Stewart ... Linus Rawlings
Eli Wallach ... Charlie Gant
John Wayne ... Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman
Richard Widmark ... Mike King
Brigid Bazlen ... Dora Hawkins
Walter Brennan ... Col. Jeb Hawkins
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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:

The Great Dramatic Motion Picture That Puts YOU In Every Scene! See more »

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Arapaho

Release Date:

20 February 1963 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

How the West Was Won See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$28,568, 14 September 2003

Gross USA:

$76,729

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$76,729
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (35 mm prints)| Cinerama 7-Track (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Metrocolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

2.89 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

An intermission was required to allow the projectionists enough time to re-thread the three projectors and synchronize the sound. See more »

Goofs

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. 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 »

Alternate Versions

Some prints (like the Swedish pan&scan video release) leave out the final modern travelogue scenes. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Making of 'How the West Was Won' (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

What Was Your Name in The States?
(1962)
Music by Robert Emmett Dolan (uncredited)
Lyrics adapted by Johnny Mercer
Performed by Debbie Reynolds (uncredited)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
After nearly 50 years the movie still works
27 January 2010 | by criticlh-1See all my reviews

I have loved this movie since I saw its original theatrical release. The new (2009) DVD release finally does it justice. Digital stitching technology has made the 3-part Cinerama image almost literally seamless. In fact there is less distortion where the frames meet than there was in the original theatrical screening. And for the first time in a video release the full width of the Cinerama screen has been captured. About a third of each of the two side images was missing in previous video versions. This version is so wide that a wide-screen HDTV still requires black bars at top and bottom to fit the image on the screen.

Yes, there are moments we wish we could re-write, such as the narrator's reference to "primitive" people. This is balanced, however, by an unusually fair (for the time) treatment of the plight of the plains Indians. The movie holds up remarkably well, thanks to a well- written script and strong performances by a large A-list cast. With the exception of a scene in which Debbie Reynolds breaks into a song-and- dance number in a wagon-train encampment (the excuse being that her character is a singer) there is almost nothing that betrays the era when the film was made. Well, there is the fact that most of the cast members are long dead.

As a professional historian, I have to say that the almost complete absence of reference to specific historical events (except the battle of Shiloh) is part of the secret of the film's success. This is a movie that captures the myth of the American west, a myth that is still alive and powerful.

This movie was made for the biggest screen ever, prior to the Imax era. The absence of true close-up shots (a limitation of the Cinerama process) is more noticeable on a smaller screen. It deserves to be seen on the biggest wide-screen TV you can find. And it does deserve to be seen.


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