Union Pacific - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Union Pacific Reviews

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October 9, 2016
161009: Viewed the trailer. The scene of the train crossing a flaming bridge is cause enough to seek out this film.
August 11, 2016
The paper thin characters and distracting use of studio sound stages in conjunction with the outdoor photography is a difficult hurtle to get over, but DeMille's genuine zeal for the "unity of the Nation" and an epic scale are undeniably appealing. Not even Barbara Stanwyck's fake Irish accident could bring down her performance.
January 24, 2016
A long epic western in the style and mold of John Fords earlier and better "Iron Horse," with a standard love triangle thrown in. History is treated with the showmanship and scale typical of Cecil B. Demille. Over the top, but all things considered still good.
May 23, 2012
all star cast CB Demille's epic look at the west & railroads
½ May 5, 2012
Second to GONE WITH THE WIND, my favorite movie of 1939. Filled with great characters and plenty of rousing action, it is spectacle but it has a lot of heart. I loved it.
August 14, 2010
DeMille, yes, but not truly epic, since the film's just too saddled down with a love triangle plotline with Barbara Stanwyck as pivot gal.

Stanwyck delivers brogue Irish well and she's interesting enough to watch, but the romantic melodrama shares at least equal stage, if not more, with the advertised theme of forging America's first intercontinental railway.

And even much of that story feels fairly cliche - Injun attacks, trestle collapses, train robberies and such. There's not much truly historical footing to be found here either. In fact, the Chinese coolie labor is conspicuously absent.

Oddly, this film was awarded the 1939 Palme d'Or - retroactively in 2002. The first official Cannes was in 1940, but it apparently wanted to be on record regarding 1939, classic Hollywood's most golden year. They couldn't really award it to any of the titles hindsight now honors - and still be insightful - so, pass the envelope please, it's Union Pacific!

RECOMMENDATION: It's no Saturday afternoon oater, it's better-than-average Western fare compared to its period but, again, it's not truly epic in scope. Consider checking out a far-feistier Stanwyck in "The Furies" (1950) instead.
May 21, 2010
John Ford did it first with "The Iron Horse", but Cecil B. DeMille's sprawling, adventurous take on the building of the first trans-continental rail road is every bit as exciting and funny. The actual building of the track takes second stage to the fates of three employees; Joel McCrea as the Union Pacific hired gun, Robert Preston as his war buddy working with a crooked bank man to stall the proceedings, and Barbara Stanwyck as the mail woman caught in between for their loyalty and love. The love triangle may be contrived, but the three stars are believable (even Stanwyck in an on-and-off Irish accent) and charming, and DeMille keeps the 140 minutes moving with exciting action set pieces (including two train wrecks and a honey of an Indian attack) and masterful direction. Solid film all around from the greatest movie year of all time.
½ September 4, 2009
By relying more on tense human drama than spectacle (as opposed to many of his other works), Cecil B. DeMille gives "Union Pacific" a longer shelf life. However, the length is still a problem, and it does take a good while into the movie for anything interesting to happen. Though now dated, the sound recording is crisp and busy for a 1930??s production.
Super Reviewer
½ August 1, 2009
Typical overblown, overlong DeMille epic. Stanwyck is excellent as always although the 30's eyebrows are a bit distracting.
July 18, 2009
Pretty mild for DeMille, but even without the insanity of a Clepatra its pretty entertaining. Plus there is still the over the top attack on the train to satisfy that part of us that loves the ridiculous, even if it did have more than its fair share of cringe inducing racism.
July 17, 2009
The tale of how the west was tamed. The epic Cecil B. DeMille picture about the Union Pacific's race to beat the atlantic railroad. Well shot and well acted unfortunately this movie falls prey to the all too common wrong-heroitis(very common in romance films), it is when the main character is far less likable than one of the side antagonist characters. Stanwyck is great though.
May 30, 2009
An epic tale about building the great railroad. Absolutely brilliant!
½ May 30, 2009
An epic, beautiful classic.
May 11, 2009
Considering that this was shot in 1939 it was a great movie and I wish the states carried on with the train system for commuting passengers. There can't be a better way to explore this great country other than a train journey
½ March 22, 2009
A great film only because Cecil B. Demile was an incredible film maker. He can take a toy train and add some sound effects and he will have you believeing the union pacific is crashing thunderously down a mountain side.
May 27, 2008
A fun movie which packs friend vs. friend, railroad vs railroad in a fight to see which one gets done first! Joel Mcrea and Robert Preston are the dueling dudes in question and Barbra Stanwyck is of course, in the middle, atrociious irish accent in tow. Lots of action in between, Demille, being the great director that he is, makes sure the audience doesnt get bored (he features 2 great train wrecks). I would cut it down a bit though...
½ March 31, 2008
No way! No way that Joel McCrea could survive all that sh*t. He should have been dead, like, five times. I mean, not as many times as the Charlie's Angels would have been...but nonetheless.

Cecil B. Demille certainly knows how to make things epic. This is a huge movie. Sure, he's using obvious models, but that was normal at the time. Who can hold that against him? Besides, I got me an imagination. I can use it every so often, then so can you. I mean, there's sh*t blowing up left and right. Not so much with the fire, but a train hitting a water tower or falling off a snowy hill. Tell me the last time you've seen two separate train accidents in one movie. Lord knows I haven't and I've seen a lot of sh*t. Man... crazy!

I love Joel McCrea and Barbara Stanwyck. Putting them in a western is a genius idea. McCrea is just a badass nice guy. He can do no wrong in this movie (even though he does and no one has a problem with it). But he's got this tortured life because of a friend. And to be honest, I love when friends are enemies in a story. That creates a fantastic dynamic. It's the whole Clark Kent / Lex Luthor aspect in Smallville. That's right. I just compared a great American classic to a television show on the CW. I'm a turd.

But I did really like this movie. The cast is fantastic, the action is actually pretty great. There's this one scene that's really just exciting and heartbreaking at the same time. The scene of trying to get the payroll back was killer. I mean, Barbara Stanwyck is kind of a b*tch for lying, but she's doing it to save Joel McCrea's life. On top of that, even after the whole bit is over, Stanwyck saves McCrea? I mean, this guy just pressured her to marry him by threatening to kill the man she loved. I understand that there's this sacred vow of marriage and that she's Irish (one day I'll break into the whole Irish thing), but really? I mean, I expected her to shoot him. That would be a hell of a story. She has to sit and rot in prison because she murdered a man who stole the payroll, and McCrea would have to watch her? But that didn't happen. I guess I am pretty grateful for that because this movie was really kind of fantastic.

It ends a bit too neatly. Part of me was happy about that, but the other half called bullsh*t on that one. I mean, yeah, it's 1939 and you have this ruckus action love story. You really can't end it negatively, but I always like those endings so much better. Why? Because I have a hard heart, that's why! But either way, the movie absolutely fantastic and I'm a better man for watching it.
½ January 14, 2008
Good western from Cecil B. DeMille.
½ January 6, 2008
This was made by Cecil B. DeMille and it is as spectacular as anything else he made. You'll enjoy it.
December 25, 2007
Indian attacks, A love triangle, a spectacular train wreck and rescue by the Calvary are just a few of the things to enjoy in this Cecil B. Demille Epic. Fast moving and very entertaining, but could have been a bit shorter in running time. Cast seems to be having fun, and it shows on screen. Great Special Effects as well. Don't watch this if your interested in the history of the building of the Railroad, this is Demille history we are talking about!
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