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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
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Popularity
4,198 ( 1,485)

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

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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:

It's here! The mightiest adventure ever filmed! 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

John Ford's habit was to always sit beside the camera while it was filming, so he could watch the action intently. Unfortunately, because of the triple lens on the Cinerama camera, he kept appearing in shots until director of photography Joseph LaShelle hit on the idea of building a rig that allowed Ford to sit above the camera. See more »

Goofs

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. 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

DVD versions list various running times: 150, 162, 165 minutes long. The theatrical version is listed as 162 minutes long. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in How the West Was Hung (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Overture
: "I'm Bound for the Promised Land"/"Shenandoah"/"Endless Prairie" (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Ken Darby and Robert Emmett Dolan
Sung by Dave Guard & The Whiskeyhill Singers
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Bound for the promised land, indeed.
15 April 2011 | by SpikeopathSee 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


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