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How the West Was Won (1963)


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Release Date: Feb 20, 1963 Wide



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Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 9,451

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Movie Info

Filmed in panoramic Cinerama, this star-studded, epic Western adventure is a true cinematic classic. Three legendary directors (Henry Hathaway, John Ford, and George Marshall) combine their skills to tell the story of three families and their travels from the Erie Canal to California between 1839 and 1889. Spencer Tracy narrates the film, which cost an estimated 15 million dollars to complete. In the first segment, "The Rivers," pioneer Zebulon Prescott (Karl Malden) sets out to settle in the

Sep 30, 2006

Warner Home Video

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All Critics (21) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (15) | Rotten (0) | DVD (12)

Delivered big with breathtaking location work and an all-star cast...

September 10, 2008 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

A story as big, as brash, and as exciting as the west itself.

September 10, 2008 Full Review Source: | Comment (1)

There is no denying the spectacle, the adventure, and the romance in How the West Was Won.

September 8, 2008 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

People have always been, and always will be, impressed with big movies; this Western was one of the very biggest.

September 4, 2008 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Immense, sprawling western epic loaded with great stars, acting, music, direction.

March 2, 2008

Though boasting the innovative technology of Cinerama, this anthology of the Old West is too long, often tedius, and only occasionally pleasurable.

February 28, 2008 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com | Comment (1)

Watching it at home without the three-strip Cinerama process takes most of the sparkle out of the film.

October 14, 2005 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for How the West Was Won

Pratically defining the word sprawling this phenomenal drama of the settling of the west is so much more than a conventional western. Directed by three top flight directors all three segments have a slightly different feel but join together into a harmonious whole. Again the phrase once in a lifetime cast could have been invented for this film with a star of some magnitude in almost every role, all of whom give good performances. The real standouts in terms of acting are probably George Peppard and Carroll Baker, they share a particularly poignant scene when he goes off to war, but Debbie Reynolds ties the whole thing together and she's full of snap and verve. The always welcome Thelma Ritter is a most amusing frontier woman. Shot on a massive scope this is enjoyable in any form but if you have the opportunity to see the Blu-Ray version on a large screen that's as near to ideal as you'll get. This film is what the movies are all about.
April 17, 2012
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Any Western with this cast is worth a glimpse. Very interesting story of the American history on a grand scale. This movie in effect tells the fourth story - and tells it in a thrilling, colorful way - from the 1840s when the frontier was still the Ohio Valley to about 1885 - not so long a time. These stories brought two actors, Debbie Reynolds and George Peppard, in two of each stories.
This is stunning - beautifully cast - music you'll always remember - and many powerful and moving scenes.
January 12, 2011
Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

You have to hand it to everyone involved, this is one mammoth viewing experience. This covers generations as well as historical events like no other movie has attempted to do. I think the wisest decision was having multiple directors so each time period has a different feeling and vision. With a huge western ensemble, this is no short of fun to watch. Most of the known actors play some of their suited roles and serve as a time frame for the genre itself. What's interesting is that the segments get richer and more defined as they go along, rather than decrease in quality. Now this isn't a character movie in a traditional way, I don't even think there is a close up shot at all. However, this shows the progression of the west from a dream to a reality.
August 23, 2010

Super Reviewer

    1. Narrator: The west 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 compost of events. Out of the hard simplicity of their lives, out of their vitality, of their hopes and 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 be, came lakes where once there were burning deserts - came the goods of the earth; mine 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.
    – Submitted by Sarfaraz A (2 years ago)
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Foreign Titles

  • Das war der Wilde Westen (DE)
  • La Conquête de l'Ouest (FR)
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