How the West Was Won

1962

Action / History / Western

10
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 100%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 74%
IMDb Rating 7.1 10 16083

Synopsis


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Director

Cast

John Wayne as Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman
Gregory Peck as Cleve Van Valen
Eli Wallach as Charlie Gant
James Stewart as Linus Rawlings
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.18 GB
1280*438
English
NR
23.976 fps
2hr 44 min
P/S 3 / 6
2.5 GB
1920*656
English
NR
23.976 fps
2hr 44 min
P/S 3 / 7

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by sme_no_densetsu 8 / 10

A star-studded Western epic

"How the West Was Won" is one of only two dramatic feature films made using Cinerama's three-strip process. Watching the film on home video represents a compromise but Warner's latest edition offers as good a presentation as you're likely to see outside of a Cinerama theatre.

The film, which was based on a series of 'Life' magazine articles, traces the fortunes of the Prescott family as they take part in the westward expansion in 19th century America. The story unfolds over several decades and touches on the Gold Rush, the Civil War and other periods in American history. James R. Webb's screenplay, while more entertaining than historically exhaustive, won him an Oscar.

The cast is about as star-studded a bunch as you're likely to see anywhere. Where else can you see Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda & John Wayne all in same film? Not to mention Karl Malden, Gregory Peck, Eli Wallach, Richard Widmark, Walter Brennan and others too numerous to mention. Needless to say, the acting is in good hands.

Technically, the film looks quite nice. The Oscar-nominated cinematography is breath-taking and Alfred Newman's score is top-notch. However, the filming process made for an overabundance of long shots and there are a few instances of rear projection that frankly look bad next to the rest of the picture. Also, while not a fault per se, there are geometric distortions inherent in displaying the curved picture on a flat screen.

Yet, despite its minor imperfections, "How the West Was Won" is an attractive and engaging epic Western. As a history lesson, it's somewhat superficial but the combination of fine acting and stunning visuals make it well worth your time. Just be sure to pick up the Special Edition or Blu-ray release.

Reviewed by Spikeopath 8 / 10

Bound for the promised land, indeed.

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

Reviewed by xpat-55192 2 / 10

How the Viewer was Lost!

I first saw this movie when I was nearly 13 when it was released.

Then, I was disappointed and bored to distraction.

Now I am nearly 68 and I recently bought the special 3-DVD set to see if time had changed my opinion of this cavalcade of stars.

It had! It filled me with admiration for my earlier accurate assessment of it!

No "Dances with Wolves" or "Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee"; what should have been spectacular and historically accurate entertainment was a tedious, specious, disjointed mess.

Cons: A waste the of top acting talent of that time. Pros: Better used as an alternative to chemical sleeping inducements.

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