How the West Was Won - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

How the West Was Won Reviews

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February 20, 2019
Underrated . This is one heck of an epic film . Loaded with many favorite stars James Stewart, John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Carroll Baker, Lee J. Cobb, Henry Fonda, Carolyn Jones, Karl Malden, George Peppard, Debbie Reynolds, Richard Widmark, Robert Preston, Eli Wallach, Brigid Bazlen, Walter Brennan, David Brian, Raymond Massey, Agnes Moorehead, Harry Morgan, Thelma Ritter, Mickey Shaughnessy, Russ Tamblyn, Spencer Tracy ...Narrated by (voice)
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.
½ February 19, 2019
Movie is not a good descriptor of the title. This is a disjointed, ahistorical, laughable look at some of America's history, but done in the poorest way possible and acted by the rankest amateurs. In addition, the process by which it was filmed kept everything the same size always -- there were no close-ups or other camera variations, thus increasing the chances of a headache. Altogether a boring piece of wasted effort, this could have been so very much better. Would MGM have allowed such an atrocity to come out of its studios in the 30s, 40s, or 50s? Think of all the grand musicals they produced and then look at this. A bitter disappointment and a harbinger of things to come in the industry.
April 8, 2018
Bit of a disjointed mess. Did a poor job of keeping the generational changes seamless. It tells a story but it's never entirely clear what the purpose of the film is. Some nice scenery though and some decent action shots but felt like 4 films in 1 as opposed to a single motion picture.
November 29, 2017
great flick to see again and again
½ March 22, 2017
How the West Was Won feels more like a grand experiment rather than a movie. It?s like someone said, ?What if we take dozens of the most famous actors, three of the most accomplished directors, the most expensive cameras, and create one of the most sprawling Westerns of all time? We?ll just figure out a script later.? What this film has in spades is gorgeous visuals, and elaborate action sequences. It looks stunning, and I could not get over how spectacular and intense it made certain scenes. The buffalo stampede alone was perhaps the most impressive bit of film I?ve seen in a long time, to the point where I kept wondering how they made it happen.

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.
January 17, 2017
this was a pretty good western movie
½ January 1, 2017
The definition of a movie epic and spectacle - as was fully intended by MGM-Cinerama.

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.
½ October 11, 2016
Eeppinen tarina lännen valloituksesta.
May 24, 2016
It was overhyped. Its nice to see all those big names in one movie, but the movie's beginning and ending kind of overshadow the filler in the middle.
½ May 1, 2016
There were some really great scenes, especially the finale. But in some parts I couldn't help but wonder if I was even watching the same film.
February 13, 2016
Boring long story of America..
October 24, 2015
GREAT MOVIE, a timeless classic packed full of all the old time best ever actors and actresses. 100 star rating. has all the big name actors and actresses in it.
October 19, 2015
Este épico de 3 horas de duración acerca de 3 generaciones de pioneros en la conquista del oeste, sufre en la pantalla de televisión, ya que fue filmada en Cinerama. Sin embargo el grandioso elenco que incluye a James Stewart, Gregory Peck, Debbie Reynolds y George Peppard, entre muchos otros, las emocionantes escenas de acción y la excelente fotografía compensan con creces la falta de una pantalla gigante.
October 19, 2015
Este épico de 3 horas de duración acerca de 3 generaciones de pioneros en la conquista del oeste, sufre en la pantalla de televisión, ya que fue filmada en Cinerama. Sin embargo el grandioso elenco que incluye a James Stewart, Gregory Peck, Debbie Reynolds y George Peppard, entre muchos otros, las emocionantes escenas de acción y la excelente fotografía compensan con creces la falta de una pantalla gigante.
September 29, 2015
While the film whitewashes over important racial issues, How The West Was Won is a thoroughly enjoyable and thrilling epic western thanks to it's impressive use of Cinerama and Alfred Newman's best film score.
September 19, 2015
A western worth to watch with an amazing director and cast.
August 9, 2015
Classic. Especially the shootout on the train hauling logs. When that was over the audience gasped.
April 30, 2015
Beautiful, but a bit over the top.
½ April 8, 2015
A sweeping, yet hollow epic. Incredible visuals with a mostly mediocre story.
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