HOW THE WEST WAS WON - Golden Oldies On the Big Screen
HOW THE WEST WAS WON
For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015
In addition to the Blu-ray release of “On Golden Pond,” Henry Fonda also has a role in the star-studded Cinerama feature “How the West Was Won” (1962), playing a grizzled buffalo hunter recruited to help keep peace with local Indians when railroad track is laid through their territory.
But he’s just one of many big names that have roles, large and small, in this mammoth undertaking, which remains one of the last great traditional Western films. And with it’s eye-popping spectacle it really needs to be seen on the big screen to be fully appreciated (including the splendor provided by scenes filmed in Monument Valley and Kanab).
And you can see it that way as part of the latest cycle of Cinemark Theaters’ classic movie series. It will show in several Cinemark multiplexes on Sunday, Jan. 25, at 2 p.m., and Wednesday, Jan. 28, at 2 and 7 p.m.
James Stewart, 'How the West Was Won'
Broad and expansive in its storytelling, “How the West Was Won” is an overview of the settling of the West in the 19th century through several decades of overlapping stories — some of which lend themselves to harrowing action sequences.
The film starts out with a mountain man (James Stewart) on his way East to trade furs when he encounters a family (headed by Karl Malden and Agnes Moorehead) coming West and falls for a daughter (Carroll Baker), eventually finding himself helping them fend off river pirates led by Walter Brennan and Lee Van Cleef.
Later, Baker’s sister (Debbie Reynolds) travels to St. Louis and meets a tinhorn gambler (Gregory Peck) and an earthy wagonmaster (Robert Preston), both of whom court her. Another sequence takes place during the Civil War as Stewart and Carroll’s son (George Peppard) enlists, eventually eavesdropping on a private conference between Generals Sherman. (John Wayne) and Grant (Harry Morgan).
Gregory Peck, left, Thelma Ritter, Robert Preston, Debbie Reynolds, lobby card for 'How the West Was Won'
Then there is a railroad-building sequence with Richard Widmark as the ruthless head of one line, whose indifference toward the local Indians leads to a thrilling buffalo stampede, and later, after an older Peppard has become a marshal, there’s a spectacular train robbery (with Eli Wallach as the gang leader) and a subsequent train wreck.
“How the West Was Won” makes for high-level entertainment — it was the No. 1 moneymaker of 1962 — and is much more captivating on the big screen than it can ever be in your home.