How the West Was Won Reviews
Just rap your brain around these actors .
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 to complete. Westward expansion shows scenes of the Indian's sorrow, the white man's greed, river pirates, outlaws, lawmen, and life and death on the Western plains. Dozens of marquee names worked with over 12,000 extras, 630 horses, hundreds of horse drawn wagons, and a stampede of 2,000 buffalo. The human cost of the concept of Manifest Destiny is revealed in all its colorful and violent glory. How the West Was Won garnered three Oscars, for screenplay, film editing, and sound production.
A story as big, as brash, and as exciting as the west itself.
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.
There is no denying the spectacle, the adventure, and the romance in How the West Was Won.
It really is true to say they don't make them like this any more.
The thing that How the West Was Won lacks is story and character development. They were so set on making it big that they didn?t take enough time to address the small and personal aspects required for a good script. There were some moments where they tried to work these in, but it didn?t click with me at all. I didn?t connect with the characters, particularly after the first sequence, and I struggled to care about what was happening to them. I think part of the impersonal feel of the film is an unfortunate side effect of these cameras that aren?t designed for close-ups.
The cast was a mixed bag. Of course they were all amazing actors, but some of them seemed miscast. I?ll take as much Gregory Peck as I can get, but when you throw a cowboy hat on him it just seems wrong. Also Jimmy Stewart was over 50, but it appears they wanted him to play someone in his mid-20s. I like seeing great actors as much as the next guy, but at a certain point it just seems like stunt casting. The focus is off the story, and becomes centered on a scavenger hunt to spot the next famous face that would pop up on screen, ?Oh, look, I see John Wayne!!?
How the West Was Won has scenes that are worth watching, though, and you really can?t criticize the impressive scope of the film. However, I think the best Westerns are the ones that make you care more about the people more than the moments. This film can?t decide which characters are important, and rarely gives anyone enough screen-time for you to form a bond with them. Not only that, but the directors don?t seem to have a united vision so there isn?t a cohesive through-line that makes the story gel into the epic they were attempting. It?s not a bad film, but a bit underwhelming once you get past all the production quality.
Having seen the first run Cinerama road show engagement as about a 10-yr old at a downtown movie palace that no longer exists, the Bluray, pretty as it is, just doesn't quite get it done. There's really no way Cinerama can translate to the flat screen. However, the lush, splendid soundtrack is recaptured beautifully with the prelude, intermission, and postlude overtures. Miss those days of film exhibition ...
Interestingly, from the events of recent days (with Debbie & Carrie), this film foretold much of Debbie Reynolds life, feisty and unsinkable until the very end. She is the thread that ties the eras and elements of the film story together.
These were the Kodachrome "See the USA in your Chevrolet" days. This major film reminds of that America when the rest of the world hadn't developed yet or had just cleared the rubble of WW2. The transistor was beginning to be installed in radios & TVs, soon to transform the entertainment & media world.