How the West Was Won

Movie Details

Year1962
DirectorJohn Ford, Henry Hathaway and George Marshall
Key CastCarroll Baker, Lee J. Cobb, Henry Fonda, Carolyn Jones, Karl Malden, Gregory Peck, George Peppard, Robert Preston, Debbie Reynolds, James Stewart, Eli Wallach, John Wayne, Richard Widmark, Brigid Bazlen, Walter Brennan, David Brian, Andy Devine, Raymond Massey, Agnes Moorehead, Harry Morgan, Thelma Ritter, Mickey Shaughnessy, Russ Tamblyn, Spencer Tracy
MPAA RatingG
Film TypeColor
Genre(s)Western, Adventure
Amazon Price: $

“How the West Was Won” won the 1964
Western Heritage Award for Best Western Film!

 
“How the West Was Won” is an epic Western starring some of the biggest names in Hollywood – Henry Fonda, Karl Malden, Gregory Peck, Debbie Reynolds, James Stewart, John Wayne and more. A massive production, this movie needed three film directors to film it. The three directors who filmed “How the West Was Won” were no ordinary directors. They were highly-acclaimed directors John Ford, Henry Hathaway and George Marshall, who were already renowned for their other classic western movies.
 
Spencer Tracy narrates “How the West Was Won” which chronicles the multi-generational movement of a family from the East all the way to California. Covering a fifty year period from 1839 – 1889, “How the West Was Won” is as much about American history and the development of the West as it is about the family featured in the western.
 
The movie begins with Zebulon Prescott (Karl Malden) and his wife Rebecca (Agnes Moorehead) deciding (like many other people during that time) to move West. They believe that there is greater opportunity for their family in the new frontier. The Prescotts take everything they have with them, including their two young daughters Eve (Carroll Baker) and Lily (Debbie Reynolds), on the long, arduous journey. Misfortune strikes the Prescotts, but this doesn’t deter the family’s move westward. Four generations of the family are followed in this western saga that the studio spent an unheard of $15 million to produce.
 
“How the West Was Won” was filmed using a new film technology at the time called Cinerama which is a three-film process that had been previously used for travelogues. For this grand western, Cinerama was used because it could provide colorful panoramas of the countryside. There were many picturesque locations used for filming, thus making the visual appearance of the movie just as important as the storyline.
 
A “Who’s Who” of Hollywood stars in “How the West Was Won” and it is considered one of the best classic westerns made in the 1950s.
 

 
• “How the West Was Won” was too big for one director to shoot the entire film. So, three directors were used for different segments. The western was broken up into five different segments and the directors were each assigned specific segments to film. The directors and their segments are:
Director John Ford – The Civil War
Director Henry Hathaway – The Rivers, The Plains, The Outlaws
Director George Marshall – The Railroad
 
• While watching this movie on DVD or TV, you may see lines showing three separate areas of the film. This is because “How the West Was Won” was shot using three different cameras for a special format called Cinerama. The idea was to shoot the picture in a widescreen format in order to also offer sweeping panoramic views. Cinerama worked for theatres who could afford the equipment to properly show it, but it never caught on because of its many technical problems. Thus, the technology was abandoned. Cinerama was chosen for “How the West Was Won” because of its ability to shoot, wide, colorful (almost artistic) panoramas of the countryside. The visuals for this western are just as important as the storyline.
 
• Some strikingly beautiful locations were used for making this film. Some of the picturesque spots chosen were: Battery Rock along the Ohio River in Illinois, the Chimmez Rock Area in the Colorado Rockies, Monument Valley (a director John Ford favorite location) and the Paducah, Kentucky countryside.
 
• “How the West Was Won” was such a huge production that there were over 12,000 extras used in the movie.
 
 
• “How the West Was Won” won the 1964 Western Heritage Bronze Wrangler Award for Theatrical Motion Picture. This award is given to only one film per year.
 
• “How the West Was Won” won three 1964 Academy Awards: Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (James R. Webb), Best Film Editing (Harold F. Kress) and Best Sound (Franklin Milton)
 
• This epic classic western was also nominated for five additional 1964 Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Music Score, Best Costume Design, Best Color Cinematography and Best Art/Set Decoration
 
• Selected in 1997 to the U.S. Library of Congress, National Film Registry which is an honor bestowed only 25 movies per year.
 

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How the West Was Won Movie DVD

“How the West Was Won” is an epic western about the movement of one pioneering family and their offsprint to the West. Even though it focuses on one family, it is story about American pioneers who risked their lives and everything they had for a dream of a better future in the West.   A virtual “Who’s Who” of acting greats star in this classic western with stunning visuals.

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How the West Was Won Blu-Ray Disc

Extraordinary effort was made during the filming of this western to make sure that the cinematography properly captured the stunning landscapes.

The visuals for “How the West Was Won” are just as important as the characters. Therefore, watching this classic western in high-quality Blu-ray is the best way to get the full experience of this epic film.

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