How the West Was Won

DVD - 1999
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
How the West Was Won
A western adventure spanning three generations, the breadth of a wild, unsettled country, and fifty of the most excitingly turbulent years of this nation's history.


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Nov 23, 2014
  • garycornell rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

"How the West Was Won" takes place between 1839 to 1889, which was an important era in the history of the west. The film is broken down into five segments. They are "The River", "The Plains" "The Outlaws" "The Civil War" and "The Railroad". The whole movie is narrated by Spencer Tracy. The story follows one family for 3 generations. Directors John Ford and Henry Hathaway share the directing of the segments. The first three segments are all directed by Henry Hathaway. The cast is so large with so many stories being covered in one film. Some of the biggest stars are John Wayne Gregory Peck, James Stewart, Richard Widmark, and Walter Brennan. In 1997 "How The West Was Won" was selected for preservation by the United States National Film Registry. Originally released as a Cinerama movie with 3 screens. You will definitely note the depth of color in the film setting which are all majestic. This is truly an amazing project that probably would not be undertaken today. See the west like you never saw it before!

Jul 23, 2014
  • lukasevansherman rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

An entertaining, but also long, bloated, and sunny western that is notable for being filmed in cinerama, as well as having three directors, including the legendary John Ford. Coming in at over 2.5 hours and featuring a overture and intermission, everything about this picture announces itself as grand, and it does have some great landscapes and a ton of stars, but it feels badly dated now and a throwback to earlier, less violent times. New directors like Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah were bringing greater moral ambiguity and violence to the western and this seems committed to the mythic. The fine cast includes James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Richard Widmark, Debbie Fisher, Gregory Peck, George Peppard, and John Wayne as Gen. Sherman.

Feb 04, 2013
  • Monolith rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I enjoyed this extravaganza for the smorgasbord of fine actors of half a century ago. Sure, it's corny. But I like corny (although I must admit I fast forwarded through most of Debbie Reynolds' musical portions -- ackk!). The premise is a little scattered, but it was a perfect movie for a snowy Sunday afternoon. Beautifully filmed with some tremendous stunts. I can't even begin to fathom the buffalo stampede in its original glorious Cinerama format. The experience truly must've taken one's breath away. Bonus documentary disc on Cinerama is absolutely fascinating.


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Feb 03, 2013
  • Monolith rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Narrator: "The West that was won by its pioneers, settlers, adventurers, is long gone now. Yet it is theirs forever, for they left tracks in history that will never be eroded by wind or rain; never plowed under by tractors; never buried in the compost of events. Out of the hard simplicity of their lives -- out of their vitality, their hopes, and their sorrows, grew legends of courage and pride to inspire their children and their children's children. From soil enriched by their blood, out of their fever to explore and build, came lakes where once, were burning deserts; came the goods of the earth: mines and wheat fields, orchards and great lumber mills. All the sinews of a growing country. Out of their rude settlements, their trading posts, came cities to rank among the great ones of the world. All the heritage of a people free to dream, free to act, free to mold their own destiny."


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