Sergio Leone Web Board

Films of Sergio Leone => Other Films => Topic started by: Il Buono on May 05, 2003, 12:38:04 PM



Title: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: Il Buono on May 05, 2003, 12:38:04 PM
Check this out.  How the west was won has Henry Fonda, Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef in it!  What a pleasant surprise.  And besides them, also George Peppard, Gregory Peck and the dude from On the Waterfront (forgot his name, no not Marlon Brando)...  

Nice, large film but the problem was that almost the entire film consists of long shots so first it's really hard to get in the characters and feel with them, and two you can hardly see their faces on a normal size television screen.  Gee, my eyes still hurt.  There's also that 'bend' in the screen, because it was filmed in Cinerama...  You should have seen it in theatres, I guess...

What do you cowboys/settlers think of this movie?


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: cigar joe on May 05, 2003, 05:01:27 PM
I saw it in cinerama on Times Square, it was on a huge screen and I was in the front of the balcony, you could barely discern the three projections. It could almost be equated with Imax.

I haven't seen it in ages and only remember the Ohio river flatboat sequence, and the train sequence. I sure don't recall Eli, Lee, and Henry, that would have been a good trivia question.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: Il Buono on May 06, 2003, 04:11:24 AM
Hush, great idea, let's do that!


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: Cusser on May 06, 2003, 09:01:02 AM
I saw HTWWW in Cinerama in Pittsburgh, in the early 1960s.   Van Cleef was one of Walter Brennan's river pirates, got killed by Jimmy Stewart after he was injured and made his way back upriver (I think with thrown hatchet in back).  Eli was the bandit Charlie Gant at the end, and Sergio said he chose Eli for GBU because of the scene where he shoots his "fingers" at George Peppard's kids in mock gunfight, and laughs, much more than for his Magnificent Seven performance.  Van Cleef and Wallach's paths would not have crossed in filming, as three directors filmed their portions independently.  Jimmy Stewart was too old for his part.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: tucumcari bound on May 22, 2007, 09:31:44 PM
What are your thoughts about this film? I've heard many mixed opinions about this film through the years and I want to see if I get the same among all of you here.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: Man with no dame on May 22, 2007, 09:55:21 PM
Great music and cinematography, Jimmy Stewart section is good, but Debbie Reynolds stuff is kinda slow. Eli Wallach auditions for Tuco.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: cigar joe on May 22, 2007, 11:01:29 PM
Its a very entertaining film in the classic sense, The Arizona sequence with Eli Wallach is a must see and Lee Van Cleeh is great as a river pirate.

Its in my collection


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: tucumcari bound on May 23, 2007, 10:08:10 AM
I finally just picked this up and added it to my collection. I can't wait to watch it. I can't believe the talent that was involved in this.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: Man with no dame on May 23, 2007, 10:52:47 AM
It has some Leonesque  elements in it, mostly in the third part, which, unfortunately, is also the briefest. Camera angles and the use of the landscape. First 3rd is all John Ford. Walter Brennan is a stand out in that part. Definitely not to be confused with How the West was Fun with the Olsen twins. ::)


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: tucumcari bound on May 23, 2007, 12:36:16 PM
I don't get this. I started this thread last night and it says it was started by Il Buano????????????? How did this happen?


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: Man with no dame on May 23, 2007, 12:44:29 PM
It got tied into a previously posted topic. I think Banjo is cleaning house.
I don't get this. I started this thread last night and it says it was started by Il Buano????????????? How did this happen?


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: tucumcari bound on May 23, 2007, 01:26:34 PM
Ohh ok, I did not realize another topic was posted about this movie. Sorry Banjo!


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: The Peacemaker on May 23, 2007, 02:08:41 PM
I liked this movie.

Not one of the greatest, but very entertaining. Especially when there are SO many famous actors and crew involved.

I loved the Arizona sequence. My favorite part is also Leone's, it's when Eli Wallach stares at the sheriff's kids and with his hands he pretends to shoot down the kids. Very Leonesque scene.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: Jill on May 24, 2007, 11:30:39 AM
Too long, boring and too much superstars, but they don't know what they are doin' in this... too short roles for Jimmy S. and Gregory. It's like Griffith's Intolerance - wanted too much.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: dave jenkins on May 24, 2007, 05:17:26 PM
I kind of agree. Tries to be too many things and so fails to do any one thing in particular well. And the ending with the LA freeways: what the...?

Still, if you ever get a chance to see it in Cinerama you should jump at it. They did a revival of it here at our Cinerama a couple of years back and I went and enjoyed the experience. There were seams between each of the three images (due to shrinkage?), but you get used to that. I really liked the fact that you could be watching the central action in a scene, and if you got bored, you could swivel your head and watch something else (mountains, riverbanks, what-have-you). More interesting than 3-D.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: Man with no dame on May 24, 2007, 07:40:22 PM
Cinerama could get you sick(nauseous) if you got in the right seats. They used to have 50 seat booths at State fairs that would play film shot in helicopters and planes. The screens were almost circular, so there was no looking away. Incredible feeling, almost like flying. Way better than 3D.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: KevinJCBJK on July 11, 2007, 11:19:02 PM
I didn't think much of this movie to be honest, despite the talent put into the film. I was disapointed, to me it was one of those trends Hollywood had in the 60's where you make an ambitious epic and cram as many movie stars as you can, like How the West was One, The Longest Day, and The Greatest Story Ever told, all three of them featuring John Wayne.

John Wayne's tiny role as the centurian really amused me. He is the biggest star in the film, has one line, and you can barely see him because he was in the background. The film may be boring, but any film about a religious figure is boring, but stil, it had a lovely score by Alfred Newman.

Back to the topic, I don't know what it was, perhaps the quality of the DVD I rented was horrible. There was these two lines dividing the screen into three's with the center screen being slightly off color than the other two.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: cigar joe on July 12, 2007, 06:06:57 AM
Quote
Back to the topic, I don't know what it was, perhaps the quality of the DVD I rented was horrible. There was these two lines dividing the screen into three's with the center screen being slightly off color than the other two.


That is the Cinerama


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: Novecento on July 29, 2009, 11:23:02 AM
Eli was the bandit Charlie Gant at the end, and Sergio said he chose Eli for GBU because of the scene where he shoots his "fingers" at George Peppard's kids in mock gunfight, and laughs, much more than for his Magnificent Seven performance.

Cool.

By the way, has anyone seen the new Blue Ray release of this? It looks gorgeous in the DVD Beaver review (http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film2/DVDReviews40/how_the_west_was_won_blu-ray.htm)! I am seriously tempted to buy a Blue Ray player just for this.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: Groggy on August 29, 2010, 10:34:14 AM
My favorite part is also Leone's, it's when Eli Wallach stares at the sheriff's kids and with his hands he pretends to shoot down the kids. Very Leonesque scene.

Not to be pedantic, but perhaps a better term would be "Wallach-esque."


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: Groggy on August 29, 2010, 09:14:58 PM
I caught the film on TCM this morning and I enjoyed it. It could have used a better connection between episodes - they do try with George Peppard's character in the second half - but most of the individual episodes were good enough that I didn't mind. The only ones I weren't crazy about were the very underdeveloped Civil War scene, with its odd John Wayne-Harry Morgan bit and battle scenes lifted from Raintree County, and the draggy Union Pacific scenes. The James Stewart-Carrol Baker stuff at the beginning (and the river pirates) and the train shootout at the end were the best bits. The cast was hit-or-miss: most were good with what they had but most didn't have a lot. The best were Stewart, Peck, Baker and Wallach. I'd give it an 8/10 if I were feeling generous.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: Dust Devil on August 30, 2010, 07:24:22 AM
I saw glimpses of it a couple of times on TV: didn't seem bad but it did seem too episodic. I guess I'll have to check it out when I get the chance.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: cigar joe on August 30, 2010, 03:53:18 PM
Its entertaining, though a bit far-fetched in places


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: T.H. on September 03, 2010, 10:01:44 AM
The train scene at the end is the only thing I'd want to revisit. Very under appreciated scene in my mind.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: Novecento on November 27, 2011, 04:30:06 AM
Apparently Sir Christopher Frayling is doing a 10 page anniversary special of this in Cinema Retro (http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=bwiguwcab&v=001750MJEUdJzMWX3_2uGLcW1hPfx_yYTExvQyDCEqQIsLUPNJQMhcLjJslI_oJedWuEY26L93C-t6se_okfWqGxuQ-Gnb8sj0eGlvA8Qq95oC8IX6PWRbqTuNr2_Xq4DJ2RAtZzGufBNIl9gAXsn2f_dtmjHFXzsJX4QPgBqVukiE%3D).


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: mike siegel on November 27, 2011, 04:48:57 AM
Yes, I supplied some stuff from my archive.

Not a great film, more gimmick than serious film making, but 70mm & Cinerama has a strong following. It's nice to see those films the way they were presented in the 60s, sometimes they gain a lot. Watched IN HARMS WAY last year in 70mm 6 channel etc., it was much better than on DVD. On the other hand I saw 55 DAYS IN PEKING last month in 70mm - still an awful movie :)


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on November 27, 2011, 05:42:28 AM
I never heard of this magazine before. Is it worth subscribing to?

I see there is a Dollars Films special edition, but they want you to mail a check or something, seems kinda shady. On the other hand, any magazine that can get Frayling is probably legit. Does anyone here subscribe to this and can tell me it's alright?

btw mike: was any of your stuff used in Fraylin's Once Upon a Time in Italy book, or the Autry museum exhibit?


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: cigar joe on November 27, 2011, 06:14:13 AM
I never heard of this magazine before. Is it worth subscribing to?

I see there is a Dollars Films special edition, but they want you to mail a check or something, seems kinda shady. On the other hand, any magazine that can get Frayling is probably legit. Does anyone here subscribe to this and can tell me it's alright?

btw mike: was any of your stuff used in Fraylin's Once Upon a Time in Italy book, or the Autry museum exhibit?

There was a write up about it on here someplace  :-\


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: Groggy on November 27, 2011, 06:53:04 AM
Yes, I supplied some stuff from my archive.

Not a great film, more gimmick than serious film making, but 70mm & Cinerama has a strong following. It's nice to see those films the way they were presented in the 60s, sometimes they gain a lot. Watched IN HARMS WAY last year in 70mm 6 channel etc., it was much better than on DVD. On the other hand I saw 55 DAYS IN PEKING last month in 70mm - still an awful movie :)

It works in spurts. By its nature with the trio of directors it's episodic, and the Cinerama did bug me at times with the lack of close-ups etc., but there are plenty of great bits to make it worthwhile.

I have fond childhood memories of 55 Days at Peking. Rewatched it a few years ago and found it a mess despite some excellent battle scenes. I'd love to see a better Boxer Rebellion film.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: Cusser on November 27, 2011, 08:41:36 AM
How the West was Won used three different directors, one for each segment.  And it was like "let's get a whole bunch of actors who've played in westerns for this.  I did see this in Cinerama, downtown Pittsburgh, about 1962.  You had to buy advance tickets.  family lost the little hardbound book they sold at the theater.

I never heard of this magazine before. Is it worth subscribing to?

I see there is a Dollars Films special edition, but they want you to mail a check or something, seems kinda shady. On the other hand, any magazine that can get Frayling is probably legit. Does anyone here subscribe to this and can tell me it's alright?

btw mike: was any of your stuff used in Fraylin's Once Upon a Time in Italy book, or the Autry museum exhibit?

I don't subscribe, but I did purchase the "Dollars" film special edition, felt it was worth it.

I did visit the Autry exhibit, once in a lifetime opportunity.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: dave jenkins on November 27, 2011, 09:26:41 AM
I never heard of this magazine before. Is it worth subscribing to?

I see there is a Dollars Films special edition, but they want you to mail a check or something, seems kinda shady. On the other hand, any magazine that can get Frayling is probably legit. Does anyone here subscribe to this and can tell me it's alright?

CR is a great mag (board member Mike Siegel is a contributor). They also have a website you should check out. The reason you've never heard of the mag probably is that it's unavailable in stores (although it was showing up in some Borders for awhile)--it's basically subscription only (i.e. you buy a 3-issue block of mags in advance). They publish this way so they don't have to clutter the mag with advertising. The special issues dedicated to a single film are not in the usual subscription stream, you buy them separately. I have the Dollars issue (which is great) and have just ordered to one on Kelly's Heroes.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: Groggy on November 27, 2011, 12:03:20 PM
CR is a great mag (board member Mike Siegel is a contributor). 

Reason enough to check it out. O0


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: dave jenkins on November 27, 2011, 12:51:50 PM
How the West was Won used three different directors, one for each segment. 
Well, that's not quite right. There were 3 directors, but 5 segments. According to the info in the booklet that comes with the Blu-ray I have, Hathaway did the first 2 parts (The Rivers, The Plains), then Ford did The Civil War,  George Marshall did The Railroad (which includes that great buffalo stampede), and then Hathaway returned to do the best segment, The Outlaws. I like the first segment because it has Jimmy Stewart up against Walter Brennan in his best Prince of Darkness mode, I hate the second part because it's mostly Debbie Reynolds, the Ford piece is pretty inconsequential, and (except for the aforementioned stampede) the George Marshall part doesn't amount to much either, but Eli Wallach as the lead bandit in The Outlaws sets the right tone and the shootout aboard the moving train is quite exciting. Add to this some truly spectacular landscape photography and the film has more good points than bad.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: Groggy on November 27, 2011, 01:00:21 PM
That sounds about right. The Stewart episode is the strongest in my mind, especially the fight in the cabin.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on November 27, 2011, 01:00:31 PM
di you order the Dollars issue by check or paypal? 

btw i read that a stuntman lost his arm during the train robbery sequence


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: stanton on November 27, 2011, 01:01:09 PM
And Richard Thorpe probably directed some of the bridging scenes between the segments.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: dave jenkins on November 27, 2011, 03:03:38 PM
di you order the Dollars issue by check or paypal? 
paypal


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on November 27, 2011, 03:32:41 PM
so i just send them a paypal payment and write in the notes that it's for the DOLLARS issue?


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: dave jenkins on November 27, 2011, 06:47:46 PM
The easiest thing is to follow the issue-specific link in the ad to the seller on EBay, plug in your info, then select Paypal when paying.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on November 27, 2011, 07:29:58 PM
The easiest thing is to follow the issue-specific link in the ad to the seller on EBay, plug in your info, then select Paypal when paying.

great, just ordered it. Thanks!  O0


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: Richard--W on November 28, 2011, 10:58:50 AM
Yes, I supplied some stuff from my archive.

Not a great film, more gimmick than serious film making, but 70mm & Cinerama has a strong following. It's nice to see those films the way they were presented in the 60s, sometimes they gain a lot. Watched IN HARMS WAY last year in 70mm 6 channel etc., it was much better than on DVD. On the other hand I saw 55 DAYS IN PEKING last month in 70mm - still an awful movie :)

I saw the restoration of How the West Was Won at the Cinerama Theater in Hollywood in September 2006. It was quite an experience. The audience thoroughly enjoyed it each time, and the theater filled up during the middle of the day. I was attending the World 3-D Expo at the Egyptian, but in the afternoons I'd walk around the corner to spend some time with How the West Was Won. I'm telling you, Cinerama still works on the big screen. I began to appreciate the film more and to understand the intent behind it. A kind of folklore history of the American west that is both instructive and entertaining. A much better film than I realized, and a sincere western. Gregory Peck and Robert Preston did their best to carry the weaker segments, but the film is a solid western all the way through. The lab that restored the film gave some of us a tour and showed us the screening room they had to build in order to restore it. A kind of mini-Cinerama-screening room tucked away in the corner of an empty building. The neighborhood is still full of surprises. You never know what's going to turn up inside those old nondescript Hollywood buildings.


Richard


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on December 06, 2011, 11:38:01 PM
FYI:

TCM will be showing How the West Was Won on Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 3:15 PM EST  :)


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: dave jenkins on December 07, 2011, 10:14:31 AM
Smile-boxed? >:D


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 23, 2012, 01:15:18 AM
TCM showed How the West was Won a few days ago; I dvr'd it and just watched it. (My second viewing of the movie). This movie gets an 8/10

Since I had it on dvr, I was able to skip two small sections I knew I wasn't interested in seeing again: the bit with the pirates, and the scene where the Prescott raft is taken by the rapids. Also, I was able to skip the Overture, Intermission, Entr'acte, and Exit music (yes, they have all 4, and they are pretty long!)

I wouldn't say that any sections are great, but they're solid enough, the cast is amazing, and it's mostly an enjoyable experience.

The scene where John Wayne and Henry Harry Morgan are sitting together and talking ("Generals Sherman and Grant) is so obviously a studio set. And in the scene of the gunfight on the train, it's an amazing scene, but it is annoying how there is significant use of rear projection


TCM showed the movie in "smilebox" format, (see example on bottom of this page http://www.cineramaadventure.com/smilebox.htm ) in an attempt to re-create the Cinerama Experience. I didn't like that decision, they should have just gone with a regular flat format.

I should point out that the first time I saw the movie, I remember watching it on my laptop (I don't recall for sure whether I was watching the dvd, or if I had downloaded the movie from iTunes), but it was really bad how you could see the 3 separate sections, and in the action sequences like the buffalo stampede, it looked like they were running in circles, etc.

However, on this TCM viewing, none of those problems existed. There were (virtually) never any lines on the screen, no visible "sections" of the screen, and other than on a couple of brief moments, there really was no problem of things looking circular. I don't know if the reaosn these problems were fixed is due to the viewing in Smilebox format, or whether the problems have been fixed and it would have looked fine even if it was shown in regular flat letterbox. All I know is that the picture looked absolutely terrific.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: cigar joe on October 23, 2012, 03:14:37 AM
I remember seeing the lines at the theatrical release too


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 23, 2012, 05:55:21 AM
I remember seeing the lines at the theatrical release too

you mean the original Cinerema release? You saw it in Cinerema and there were lines on it?

-----------------------

Here is Beaver's review of the 2-disc blu ray set that offers both the Letterbox and Smilebox formats http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film2/DVDReviews40/how_the_west_was_won_blu-ray.htm
many dvd's and blu rays of HTWWW have been released over the past few years, but if you are looking to get the version that offers the movie in both the Letterbox and Smilebox formats, (I believe) it's only available on this 2-disc blu ray set http://www.amazon.com/How-West-Blu-ray-Book-Packaging/dp/B0018O50VQ/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1351002238&sr=8-3&keywords=how+the+west+was+won

When I saw the movie on TCM, on a few occasions, the lines/sections might be vaguely visible specifically against a bright sky. And there are a few instances where shapes or movement may be weird, eg. buffalo may be running around and around, some things may look weird (especially if you are looking out for it). I haven't seen the blu ray yet, but based on Beaver's comments on the blu ray, it seems to be pretty similar to what I saw on TCM. As Beaver says, pretty much 95% of the problems are gone  :)


if any of y'all have watched this blu ray disc, and seen both the Smilebox and Letterbox formats, I'd like to hear what you have to say about it 'em  :)


------------

Bottom line IMO: Thankfully, only 30 movies were made in Cinerama http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinerama#cite_ref-10 so hopefully these 30 titles can be restored as best as possible to dvd; (for the Cineramaniancs, they have a few theaters that show revivals every once in a while), but  we'll never have to worry about this for anything other than those 30 titles.

Here is a site for you Cineramaniacs http://cineramaadventure.com/






Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: dave jenkins on October 23, 2012, 08:16:23 AM

This movie has been released on many different dvd and blu-ray-disc sets. But this particular 2-disc blu ray set is the only version of the movie that provides both the Smilebox and Letterbox formats: http://www.amazon.com/How-West-Blu-ray-Book-Packaging/dp/B0018O50VQ/ref=sr_1_3?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1350995144&sr=1-3&keywords=how+the+west+was+won
I have this. I've also seen the film projected in Cinerama (which, naturally, is the best way to see it). The Smilebox version is worth having, but for homeviewing generally I prefer the standard "flat" version.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: cigar joe on October 23, 2012, 09:17:34 AM
you mean the original Cinerema release? You saw it in Cinerema and there were lines on it?


against a blue sky yes


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 23, 2012, 10:04:44 AM
against a blue sky yes

right, there are a few moments where you vaguely see some lines against the blue sky.

But that's all. And that is damn good. Cuz I saw the old version of it, and virtually the entire thing was 3 sections (like the photos on the wikipdia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_the_West_Was_Won_(film) ) so if now, you just vaguely see the lines a couple of times against a bright blue sky, that means they've gotten rid of more than 95% of the problem. So it's a damn good job Warner Home Video has done with it.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on December 12, 2012, 02:33:23 AM
watching the movie on TCM now, this time they are showing it in the Flat version, not in the Smilebox.

When they showed it in Smilebox last time, I didn't love that, thought it was kinda weird. But now that I see the Flat version, I think I actually prefer the Smilebox: the movie has a very, very wide aspect ratio (technical specs on imdb http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056085/technical ), so huge sections of the top and bottom of the screen have black bars ( far more than for movies that have a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, which IMO is the widest aspect ratio a movie should ever have), so only a small portion of the screen is used, so it's not all that easy to watch.

The Smilebox version shows the same amount of information on top and bottom of the image as the Flat version, but the Smilebox uses more of the screen, and I just feel like it's easier to watch. (This is the first time I can recall it bothering me, since the aspect ratio is sooooo wide and cuts off so much more of the screen than I am used to).

According to Beaver, http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film2/DVDReviews40/how_the_west_was_won_blu-ray.htm the aspect ratio of the Flat version is 2.90:1 ... btw, as you see from Beaver's screencaps, the 2 versions show the same amount of information on the top and bottom of the image, but the Flat version has a little more information on the sides


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: cigar joe on December 12, 2012, 04:00:30 AM
notice wicker covered bottle Henry Fonda drinks out of in the cabin scene with George Peppard  ;)


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on December 12, 2012, 04:44:25 AM
notice wicker covered bottle Henry Fonda drinks out of in the cabin scene with George Peppard  ;)

nice find  O0

but was he eating round loaves of bread?  ;)


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: marmota-b on April 21, 2013, 09:26:03 AM
I have the special edition DVD - got it years ago for my birthday or for Christmas from my sister, because it has Eli Wallach. ;D

I pretty much agree with what has been said here. The ending with all the modern sights is quite ridiculous... and rather ironic nowadays. But other than that, I quite enjoyed it. I liked that it has the Western "larger-than-life" qualities, and reads like a romance, yet does not slip into too formulaic storylines; there were surprises along the way.

In the bonus on Cinerama, Eli Wallach explains how difficult it was to act in front of the Cinerama cameras... you were supposed to be looking at an actor, but because of the distortion of the image, you actually could not look at them in real life. Considering that, I think the actors did a marvelous job.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 21, 2013, 10:13:20 AM

I pretty much agree with what has been said here. The ending with all the modern sights is quite ridiculous... and rather ironic nowadays. But other than that, I quite enjoyed it. I liked that it has the Western "larger-than-life" qualities, and reads like a romance, yet does not slip into too formulaic storylines; there were surprises along the way.



I don't have a problem with the ending with the freeways in California. That's the whole point of the movie -- a celebration of Manifest Destiny, a means justifying an end, of creating a land from sea to shining sea. And how we, today -- though we have all this modern technology and travel over freeways with cars rather than blazing trails with horses -- are benefiting from the efforts of those who "won" the West. That's the point of the movie, as we see in the title and the narration emphasizes. So, the fact that they showed the "from then to now" shot, or contrast, or whatever, doesn't bother me.

What I didn't like is how the movie clearly shows how a treaty is broken with the Indians, and how part of the "winning" of the west was a very brutal business. Yet ultimately it celebrates it. Like, let's show how this and that and the other was done unethically and murderously, but hey, wtf, we won the west! You can't try to be honest and show the brutality toward Indians that was part of winning the West, and then say, hey, let's celebrate it all.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: marmota-b on April 21, 2013, 12:20:49 PM
What I didn't like is how the movie clearly shows how a treaty is broken with the Indians, and how part of the "winning" of the west was a very brutal business. Yet ultimately it celebrates it. Like, let's show how this and that and the other was done unethically and murderously, but hey, wtf, we won the west! You can't try to be honest and show the brutality toward Indians that was part of winning the West, and then say, hey, let's celebrate it all.

That's pretty much what I meant. Ironic. I think (though I'm no expert) this must have been one of the first American Westerns to acknowledge that historical fact; it undermines its own message.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 21, 2013, 03:58:42 PM
That's pretty much what I meant. Ironic. I think (though I'm no expert) this must have been one of the first American Westerns to acknowledge that historical fact; it undermines its own message.

I don't think that's true.

People frequently say that all AW's portrayed the Indians badly until the revisionist Westerns of the 60's and beyond, but that is patently false. Like with John Ford, whenever discussing Cheyenne Autumn, people say something like, "This was Ford's apology for having always portrayed the Indians negatively," but that is flat-out wrong. Fort Apache and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon are both positive toward Indians (the John Wayne character seeks to have peace with them), and even in The Searchers, which portray the Comanche as being brutal, portrays the viciously Indian-hating Wayne as a pretty negative dude.

I'm no historian, you'd have to ask Groggy for that stuff, but I think it would be accurate to say that there were probably atrocities on both sides; that any blanket "the whites were right" or "the Indians were right" are silly; the conflicts between the white settlers, and later the Americans, and the Indians lasted a long time and dealt with many tribes -- and let's not forget, many of the Indians were barbaric -- and the circumstances were not the same in every case. Therefore, I don't mind it when a movie portrays the Indians as barbaric, and I don't mind it when a movie portrays the Indians as being right and the Americans as being wrong in a particular conflict, or if it portrays neither side as absolutely right or wrong, because the facts are much more complicated than "Side X was right" or "Side Y was right."

So, I don't worry much about whom a movie portrays as "good" or "bad." I just enjoy the movie and that's that.

With that being said, I still wouldn't show the Indians being lied to and murdered and then celebrate that as just another part of "winning" something.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: Groggy on April 21, 2013, 06:59:16 PM
I agree up to a point: Indians certainly weren't pacifists and were capable of extreme brutality in warfare. The Dances With Wolves view of Indians as proto-hippies is ridiculous and condescending. Nor, of course, can we view the Indians as anything like a monolithic body, as many sided with the Americans/Europeans at various points. But you still come back to the fact that Indians generally were being dispossessed or killed by white invaders, when the converse was rarely true.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 21, 2013, 09:16:46 PM
I agree up to a point: Indians certainly weren't pacifists and were capable of extreme brutality in warfare. The Dances With Wolves view of Indians as proto-hippies is ridiculous and condescending. Nor, of course, can we view the Indians as anything like a monolithic body, as many sided with the Americans/Europeans at various points. But you still come back to the fact that Indians generally were being dispossessed or killed by white invaders, when the converse was rarely true.

RE: your mention of Dances with Wolves: the reason Dances with Wolves (while a beautiful piece of art) was ridiculous as far as portrayals go is cuz every white is viciously cruel, and every Indian is a wonderful nice guy; so much so, that the one good white guy has to "become" an Indian, cuz only Indians could be good and all whites have to be bad. (and of course, Roger Ebert, the most self-hating white guy I've ever seen, seemed to think DWW was just a perfect portrayal, makes me even more convinced. But I digress  ;))

On the other hand, I am sure that there are many earlier Westerns where the reverse is true: all whites are good and all Indians are evil. Do we think those portrayals are just as silly as the opposite portrayal in Dances with Wolves? I don't know.( I'm sure that it could be due to an instinctive feeling differently toward things cuz you are a member of one "race" rather than the other. I mean, none of my ancestors were nowhere near America while the Indian wars were being fought, but still, it probably happens that subconsciously, we white folk would reject a movie with a cartoonishly bad portrayal of whites as being silly, faster than we'd reject a movie with similarly cartoonishly bad portrayals of Indians.

RE: the issue of brutality and who was being dispossessed etc.: again, I don't know jack about history (I read one book related to this -- Kit Carson in 7th grade; Mr. Carson had quite a few proverbial Injun scalps to his credit), but I think it would be fair to say, or at least ask, again, that probably the many different interactions between white settlers/Americans and the various Indian tribes probably varied greatly. In other words, yes, the Indians "were there first," but does that mean the whites "dispossessed" them? In a land as vast as what is now known as the USA, and which at that time probably had a population that was 1/100 what it is today, wasn't there room for everyone? was nobody from Europe allowed to seek a new life on this vast piece of land?
On the other side, of course, they could seek a new life and a piece of land, but can't kick out or kill anyone else while doing it. So I guess it would be a question of who did what to whom first: did the whites say, "we're kicking you out or killing you cuz we want your land," while the Indians would have been happy to peacefully live side-by-side; or did the Indians say, "leave or we will kill you" while the whites would have been happy to live peacefully side by side?
Or did it vary, ie. in some circumstances one side was happy to live peacefully while the other side wanted to kill them, while in other instances the reverse was true.

(Obviously, there were other issues, eg. can you be living "peacefully" with the Indians if you don't kill them, but you destroy the buffalo herds that they have lived on?)

Again, my guess is that each particular conflict had different circumstances. As to the general notion of Indians being barbaric (did they have human sacrifices?) and whites being civilized, well I think whites have had a long history of being civilized to their own kind but very cruel to other races.

Anyway, as it pertains to AW's, we're not all that interested in the history of what happened in the preceding centuries and decades. The point is being reasonably accurate to the facts as they were at the moment a particular movie is taking place. For example, let's take Stagecoach: we have the famous shot of the Indians attacking the coach in the valley: we are focusing on a particular conflict or battle or attack, and I don't think it's necessary for the movie to encapsulate the whole history of the Indians-whites relationship. The point is: is it historically accurate to say that there were times during the late 1800's where that indian trob attacked stagecoaches of white travelers? if the answer is yes, then the movie is accurate, period. (even if it is true that that same tribe was driven off their land and  beaten and tortured by whites 20 years earlier). Ditto for Red River: as long as at some point or another, Indians were attacking white wagon trains, then that depiction is accurate; the movie need not be a history lesson or even a microcosm of the Indian-white relationship.
(And on those grounds, Dances With Wolves may not be all that terrible a depiction either -- as long as it's reasonable to say that in a particular instance, all the whites were barbaric in dealing with an Indian tribe. Let's be fair; we shouldn't be more demanding of AW's that portray the whites as villains than we are of AW's that portray the Indians as villains).

That's why I pretty much have no problem with any movie's depiction of one side or another; as long as such an incident can reasonably be said to have occurred, then it can be portrayed in a movie, and that's that.

My only problem with How the West Was Won is that the movie indeed portrays the atrocities of broken treaties and slaughter of Indians, and then says, oh well, it may not have been pretty, but wtf, it's all part of the wonderful achievement of winning the West.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: marmota-b on April 22, 2013, 12:34:44 AM
Well, as I said, I'm no expert. Thanks for clarifying that.
And I'm European on top of that. We've long had a soft spot for the Indian side of things over here. And European portrayals of them are usually also very wrong, as we tend to project our own troubles into them. So, whatever.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 22, 2013, 01:51:56 AM

And I'm European on top of that. We've long had a soft spot for the Indian side of things over here.

what you mean to say is y'all are anti-America however possible  :P

There's never an excuse for any atrocities, but I'd never say I had a "soft spot" for the Indians back then; there's a reason they were called "savages." Not that I have much of a soft spot for a lot of the white folks either; many of America's Founding Fathers, whose ideologies of freedom affect Western civilization to this day, were slaveowners themselves. (I'd love to say that thankfully we're a more civilized society today, but is that really true? The 20th century was the most murderous/genocidal in recorded history -- and much of it was by so-called advanced, enlightened nations).


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: marmota-b on April 22, 2013, 02:01:39 AM
what you mean to say is y'all are anti-America however possible  :P

No, what I mean to say is that European works, as far as I know, usually chose the "Noble Savage" stream of non-authentic portrayal. Unless they were colonial works with an interest.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: cigar joe on April 22, 2013, 07:22:39 AM
I'm a bit well versed on the history of Native American-European conflict, but I'll still be brief and just give some bullet points:

  • Long before any permanent settlements Portuguese and French fishermen fishing the Grand Banks would make landfall to get freshwater and other supplies, they would report seeing what they called "villages of the dead". The first contact was devastating to the native populations, European diseases depopulated North America to the extent that by the time of the first settlements some estimates I've read say as little as 10% remained of the former native populations.
  • This depopulated "New World" was interpreted as a "gift from god" by the various settlers fleeing religious persecution in Europe.
  • Reading the Jesuit Relations (sort of a baptismal score card) and the early efforts to convert the Native Americans you get the impression that a cultural transference took place. Once the Native Americans heard the biblical stories and the various accounts of the lives and deaths of the saints they began to test the words of the Jesuit Fathers putting the tortures related to them to practice, a display to prove veracity and bravery became ritualized.  
  • The Pilgrims initially enjoyed good and peaceful relations with the Native Americans, it was only after the Europeans brought over domesticated livestock and the "free range" concept that relations became strained. Free range required the Natives to fence off their corn and vegetable fields from free ranging cattle, this was putting the responsibility upon the Natives, who solved the problem "their way" by slaughtering and eating the offending animals. Other situations were basically impossible to solve, settlers would let their hogs loose (go hog wild) upon tribal oyster beds at low tide. http://changesinland.wordpress.com/ (http://changesinland.wordpress.com/)
  • Scalping for bounties was encouraged by the Europeans during the colonial wars of the 1700s
  • The French, in the mid to late 1600s unable to engage with the Iroquois in any set battles, finally resort to campaigns against their ancestral towns, and food stores, just before the onset of winter, this strategy had a far more effective and devastating effects against the 6 Nations as a whole. This strategy you can follow right on down the line to the mass destruction of the buffalo herds in the late 1800s.
  • Colonel Henry Bouquet to General Amherst, dated 13 July 1763, http://www.umass.edu/legal/derrico/amherst/34_40_305_fn.jpeg (http://www.umass.edu/legal/derrico/amherst/34_40_305_fn.jpeg) suggests in a postscript the distribution of blankets to "inocculate the Indians" (with smallpox) and to hunt them with dogs; General Jeffrey Amherst to Bouquet, dated 16 July 1763, approves this plan in a postscript http://www.umass.edu/legal/derrico/amherst/34_41_114_fn.jpeg (http://www.umass.edu/legal/derrico/amherst/34_41_114_fn.jpeg)  and suggests as well as "to try Every other method that can serve to Extirpate this Execrable Race."
  • When the Ohio River Country was first opened to settlers and Revolutionary War Vets post 1783, who floated down the river on flat boats, they claimed the open Native American fields they found along the flood plain as theirs, the fields were "abandoned" because the natives had moved to their winter hunting camps. The natives didn't leave signs saying "be back next spring" you can imagine the confrontations that ensued.
  • In January, 1869, General Sheridan held a conference with 50 Indian chiefs at Fort Cobb in the so-called Indian Territory (later part of Oklahoma). At that time, Sheridan, who had gained recognition as a Union officer in the Civil War, was in charge of the Dept. of the Missouri. One of his duties was to oversee the Indian Territory, making sure that the Indians remained on their reservations and did not harass the white settlers. When Comanche chief Toch-a-way was introduced to Sheridan at the conference, the Indian said, "Me Toch-a-way, me good Indian." Sheridan reportedly smirked and replied, "The only good Indians I ever saw were dead." Later on, the remark became "The only good Indian is a dead Indian."


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: dave jenkins on April 22, 2013, 11:28:18 AM
  • The French, in the 1700s unable to engage with the Iroquois in any set battles, finally resort to campaigns against their ancestral towns, and food stores, just before the onset of winter, this strategy had a far more effective and devastating effects against the 6 Nations as a whole.
The French Iroquios War was 1642-1698, so perhaps you meant to say the 1600s. Of course, one of the reasons it ended is because the French figured out they could partner with the Iroquois against the British and drive those interlopers out of New France. Which just goes to show that war is the natural condition of humans, and they will practice it for any excuse until a better one comes along.

Good job, CJ. I'm sure you could go on and on. This is outside your brief, of course, but another way to approach this area is to examine all the wars of Indians against other Indians, although the records aren't particularly good there.


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: cigar joe on April 22, 2013, 11:48:21 AM
The French Iroquios War was 1642-1698, so perhaps you meant to say the 1600s. Of course, one of the reasons it ended is because the French figured out they could partner with the Iroquois against the British and drive those interlopers out of New France. Which just goes to show that war is the natural condition of humans, and they will practice it for any excuse until a better one comes along.

Good job, CJ. I'm sure you could go on and on. This is outside your brief, of course, but another way to approach this area is to examine all the wars of Indians against other Indians, although the records aren't particularly good there.

I'll fix it, you are right it was Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac et de Palluau during his second term in In 1696 (almost the 1700s) ;-) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comte_de_Frontenac (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comte_de_Frontenac)


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: marmota-b on April 22, 2013, 12:09:43 PM
Great job, CJ - I feel terribly undereducated, but in a good way: there's room for more. ;D


Title: Re: How the West Was Won (1962)
Post by: Spikeopath on May 04, 2017, 01:32:50 AM
Adding to this considerable thread.

Bound for the promised land, indeed.

One of the last great epic movies to come out of MGM that was a roaring success, How the West Was Won still has enough quality about it to warrant high praise. The story that drives the film on was suggested by the series of the same name that featured in "Life" magazine 1959. Narrative is formed around one family, the Prescott's, who set out on a journey West in 1839. They and their offspring fill out five segments of film that are directed by three different men, "The Rivers", "The Plains" & "The Outlaws" is under the guidance of Henry Hathaway, and "The Civil War" by John Ford and "The Railroad" by George Marshall.

Filmed in the unique Cinerama format, which in a nutshell is three cameras filming at once to project a fully formed experience for the human eye, the production has an all star cast and four supreme cinematographers aiding the story. To name all the cast would take forever, but in the main all of the major parts were filled by stars who had already headlined a movie previously. The cinematographers are naturally key since such a sprawling story inevitably has sprawling vistas, they come up trumps with some truly special work: William H. Daniels, Milton Krasner, Charles Lang Jr. & Joseph LaShelle, four great names who help to make the film a poetic beauty.

As a whole it's undeniably far from flawless, complaints such as it running out of steam towards the end (the irony of it since a steam train features prominently), and the plot contrivances, are fair enough. However, when the film is good, it's real good: raft in the rapids, Cheyene attack, buffalo stampede and train robbery, each of them are good enough to be a highlight in separate movies. Even the songs are pleasant, particularly when they revolve around the effervescent Debbie Reynolds, while home format transfers are now finally up to a standard worthy of investment, time and cash wise.

Hard to dislike for a Western fan, and carrying enough about it to lure in the casual viewer, How the West Was Won really is a case of they don't make them like they used to. 8/10

Region 2 DVD Three Discer.