7.1/10
16,616
155 user 37 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
Reviews
Popularity
4,530 ( 800)
Won 3 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

The Alamo (1960)
Certificate: 12 Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

In 1836, a small band of soldiers sacrifice their lives in hopeless combat against a massive army in order to prevent a tyrant from smashing the new Republic of Texas.

Director: John Wayne
Stars: John Wayne, Richard Widmark, Laurence Harvey
Certificate: 12 Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A senator, who became famous for killing a notorious outlaw, returns for the funeral of an old friend and tells the truth about his deed.

Director: John Ford
Stars: James Stewart, John Wayne, Vera Miles
Fort Apache (1948)
Certificate: 14 Action | Adventure | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

At Fort Apache, an honorable and veteran war captain finds conflict when his regime is placed under the command of a young, glory hungry lieutenant colonel with no respect for the local Indian tribe.

Director: John Ford
Stars: John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Shirley Temple
Adventure | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

In 1863, a Union outfit is sent behind Confederate lines in Mississippi to destroy enemy railroads but a captive southern belle and the unit's doctor cause frictions within ranks.

Director: John Ford
Stars: John Wayne, William Holden, Constance Towers
Certificate: 14 Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Captain Nathan Brittles, on the eve of retirement, takes out a last patrol to stop an impending massive Indian attack. Encumbered by women who must be evacuated, Brittles finds his mission imperiled.

Director: John Ford
Stars: John Wayne, Joanne Dru, John Agar
Rio Grande (1950)
Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A cavalry officer posted on the Rio Grande must deal with murderous raiding Apaches, his son who's a risk-taking recruit and his wife from whom he has been separated for many years.

Director: John Ford
Stars: John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Ben Johnson
Certificate: 14 Adventure | Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A drunken, hard-nosed U.S. Marshal and a Texas Ranger help a stubborn teenager track down her father's murderer in Indian territory.

Director: Henry Hathaway
Stars: John Wayne, Kim Darby, Glen Campbell
Action | Adventure | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Texas Ranger Jake Cutter arrests gambler Paul Regret, but soon finds himself teamed with his prisoner in an undercover effort to defeat a band of renegade arms merchants and thieves known as Comancheros.

Directors: Michael Curtiz, John Wayne
Stars: John Wayne, Stuart Whitman, Ina Balin
El Dorado (1967)
Drama | Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Cole Thornton, a gunfighter for hire, joins forces with an old friend, Sheriff J.P. Hara. Together with an old Indian fighter and a gambler, they help a rancher and his family fight a rival rancher that is trying to steal their water.

Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, James Caan
Drama | History | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

The Cheyenne, tired of broken U.S. government promises, head for their ancestral lands but a sympathetic cavalry officer is tasked to bring them back to their reservation.

Director: John Ford
Stars: Richard Widmark, Carroll Baker, Karl Malden
Shenandoah (1965)
Drama | War | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

During the Civil War, a Virginia farmer and his family vow to remain neutral, but one of the sons is captured by Union soldiers, sending the farmer to his rescue.

Director: Andrew V. McLaglen
Stars: James Stewart, Doug McClure, Glenn Corbett
The Searchers (1956)
Adventure | Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

An American Civil War veteran embarks on a journey to rescue his niece from the Comanches.

Director: John Ford
Stars: John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles
Edit

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
Edit

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 epic journey of four generations of Americans who carved a country with their bare hands See more »

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Arapaho

Release Date:

21 February 1963 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Das war der wilde Westen See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$46,500,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$50,000,000, 31 December 1969
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 »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The song "Home in the Meadow", sung by many characters throughout the movie, had lyrics written for the movie by Sammy Cahn. The music, however, is the old English ballad "Greensleeves" from the sixteenth century, which by popular repute was written by King Henry VIII. The same music was paired with different lyrics for the Christmas carol, "What Child is This?". See more »

Goofs

Linus and Eve die three years apart, yet both their graves look fresh when Zeb comes back from the war. Although the grave of Linus is empty, so it and the headstone may have been placed at the same time Eve's grave was dug. 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 Red Dead Redemption (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Shenandoah
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung by Ken Darby
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

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


27 of 34 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 155 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed