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How the West Was Won [VHS]
List Price: $29.98

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Product Description

The first feature film to be photographed and projected in the panoramic three-camera Cinerama process, this epic Western is almost as expansive as the West itself, chronicling a pioneering family's triumphs and tragedies in numerous episodes spanning three generations and a half century of westward movement. Divided into five segments directed by veteran Hollywood filmmakers Henry Hathaway, George Marshall, and the legendary John Ford (and including uncredited sequences directed by Richard Thorpe), the film was one of the most ambitious ever made by the venerable MGM studio. Its stellar cast reads like a virtual who's who of Hollywood's biggest stars. Debbie Reynolds plays a sturdy survivor of many pioneering dangers, and the eventual widow of a gambler (Gregory Peck), who is later reunited with her nephew (George Peppard), a Civil War veteran and cavalryman who heads for San Francisco as the transcontinental railroad is being built. Many more characters and stories are woven throughout this epic film, which is dramatically uneven but totally engrossing with its stunning vistas and countless outdoor locations in Illinois, Kentucky, South Dakota, Monument Valley in Arizona, California, Colorado, and elsewhere. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews:

  • terrific restoration of a fine 1960's western

    Great actors and music, this is one of the best 25 westerns of all time. The sound is quite good, this 3-DVD set only offers audio in 5.1 apparently, there appears to be no mono mix offered.
    Though twice as expensive as the single disc release which has the join lines visible, I believe this new restoration is worth the extra money, plus this 3 hour film is now spread out over two discs which improves the video quality.

    The music is a mix of folk songs, spirituals and hymns and was heavily researched for the film. The classic Greensleeves is set to new lyrics and retitled "A Home in the Meadow" and is sung by Debbie Reynolds. In fact much of the film is a vehicle for Ms. Reynolds as she dances and sings her way through various scenes, two years before she became the Unsinkable Molly Brown in the film which includes a scene on the Titanic.
    Also check out Al Pacino in Panic in Needle Park and Scarface.

    ...more info
  • how the west was won
    great movie, restoration work is fantastic this movie is heading towards 50 years old it was such a pleasure to watch
    yes you can find some minor faults but what a great improvement on previous releases ...more info
  • "WON" by Blu-Ray
    Look at this on a big screen TV! The improvement in image quality, sharpness, and color on this blu-ray edition is enormous. Watching this film in the SmilE format on the second disc is a treat and makes us remember what a spectacular stunt Cinerama was when we originally saw this on a huge curved panoramic screen for it's original release. It's certainly the kind of startling innovative technology that sold tickets and put us in theater seats; but if you find it distracting, return to the conventional widescreen version on disc one. Both are stunning--and somehow seem superior to the actual original projected theatrical film in their sharpness and color!

    The very-widescreen image finally looks complete. The two "un-seam-ly" overlap lines that marred ALL previous showings, releases, and formats are almost totally and miraculously unnoticeable on both blu-ray discs! Now, without experiencing those persistent distractions and odd distortions, we rediscovered a spectacular film with a surprising amount of good acting and witty and often moving dialogue.

    Of course, it includes some of the most stunning classic action sequences this side of Ben Hur and CB DeMille! And what a great cast and superb score. The blu-ray is a marvel and a must-have. And some might buy it for the fascinating "Cinerama Adventure" documentary alone, included here on disc one!...more info
  • Blu-Ray puts a Smilebox on your face
    An open letter to all techies out there, and I know you're out there:

    You haven't seen anything until you have seen the potent combination of Blu-Ray technology and the new wide screen process called "Smilebox"

    What is Smilebox, you say?

    Smilebox is the best thing to happen to home video since letterbox. And for a super wide screen movie like the superb How the West Was Won, it's a marriage made in heaven.

    Smilebox takes regular letterbox and literally turns it on its head! Instead of a sharp right angle letterbox image, Smilebox curves the picture up at the top, and down at the bottom. Like a smile! It really conveys the feeling of watching a Cinerama movie in the theater!

    This unique process is perfect for the ingenious Cinerama process, developed in 1952 to get people back to the movie theaters and away from the growing number of television sets. And boy did it! This is Cinerama was actually the number one grossing movie of 1952, even though it played in only a handful of Cinerama equipped theaters! People often lined up around the block.

    The 1962 Cinerama movie How the West was Won, featuring an all-star cast, 3 directors, and a socko surround sound system, was also one of the top grossing movies of its year, even though it also only played roadshow engagements in theaters properly equipped with the super-wide screeen process. It virtually gave a "3-D" effect without glasses.

    Try watching this one in the dark! That will really blow your socks off!

    With Smilebox, Blu-Ray realizes its full potential....more info
  • The West in Hi-Def.
    One of old Hollywood's last big epics, 'How the West Was Won' is a classic tale of heroics and heartbreak, filmed in the now-defunct Cinerama process.

    Although light on cohesive story, the film is chock-full of Hollywood melodrama and amazing (for the time) camera work. Although it is definitely a sanitized look at the "winning" of the Old West, it holds up today for its successful portrayal of pioneers as real people who braved an unknown frontier to realize their dreams of a new life.

    The Blu-ray "Smilebox" transfer, which tries to mimic the Cinerama experience, is interesting for about five minutes. Then either your headache or your sense of proportion will probably force you to switch to the standard letterbox version on disc 1. Perhaps if viewed on a HUGE screen (I have a 52" LCD and still it looked weird), you might get the feeling of sitting in the very back row of a Cinerama theatre. I suppose Warner deserves some kudos for trying to preserve this historic film in its original format, but in practical terms the results are a curiosity at best.

    The image quality on disc 1 is terrific, though, and for the most part the "lines" in the 3-camera image are not visible, except during some shots of blue sky.

    Overall then, this is a very fine presentation of a classic film, indeed one of the proverbial "old fashioned Westerns".

    ...more info
  • How The West Was Blu!!!
    This is what Blu Ray disc is all about!!! Great picture & sound,available in both Letterbox Widescreen and "Smilebox" format which replicates the original curved Cinerama experience,ultra cool!!! Blu Ray is the only way to get the Smilebox version!!! Also included is an depth documentary about the Cinerama process!!! A great 2 disc set from Warner Bros.!!!! Very recommended!!! A+...more info
  • I Am Bound For The Promised Land
    James R. Webb's original screenplay for the screen won an Oscar in 1962 and it involves an episodic account of the Prescott family and their contribution to settling the American west in the 19th century. We first meet the Prescott's, Karl Malden and Agnes Moorehead going west on the Erie Canal and later by flatboat on the Ohio River. They have two daughters, dreamy romantic Carroll Baker and feisty Debbie Reynolds. The girls meet and marry mountain man James Stewart and gambler Gregory Peck eventually and their adventures and those of their children are what make up the plot of How the West Was Won.

    Three of Hollywood's top directors did parts of this film although the lion's share by all accounts was done by Henry Hathaway. John Ford did the Civil War sequence and George Marshall the sequence about the railroad.

    The Civil War piece featured John Wayne and Harry Morgan in a moment of reflection at the battlefield of Shiloh. Morgan did a first rate job as Grant in his brief cameo and Wayne was playing Sherman for the second time in his career. He'd previously played Sherman in a cameo on his friend Ward Bond's Wagon Train series. I'm surprised Wayne never did Sherman in a biographical film, he would have been good casting.

    If any of the stars could be said to be THE star of the film it would have to be Debbie Reynolds. She's in the film almost through out and in the last sequence where as a widow she goes to live with her nephew George Peppard and his family she's made up as a gray haired old woman and does very well with the aging. Debbie also gets to do a couple of musical numbers, A Home in the Meadow and Raise A Ruckus both blend in well in the story. Debbie's performance in How the West Was Won must have been the reason she was cast in The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

    Cinerama was rarely as effectively employed as in How the West Was Won. I well remember feeling like you were right on the flatboat that the Presscott family was on as they got caught in the Ohio River rapids. The Indian attack and the buffalo stampede were also well done. But the climax involving that running gun battle between peace officers George Peppard and Lee J. Cobb with outlaw Eli Wallach and his gang on a moving train even on a formatted VHS is beyond thrilling.

    There is a sequence that was removed and it had to do with Peppard going to live with buffalo hunter Henry Fonda and marrying Hope Lange who was Fonda's daughter. She dies and Peppard leaves the mountains and then marries Carolyn Jones. Lange's part was completely left on the cutting room floor. I was hopeful in this version we'd see Hope Lange and more of Henry Fonda.

    Considering you have all those Hollywood legends in one exciting film. They really don't make them like this any more....more info
  • jsf
    I saw this movie as a kid. It was shown on 3 screens in the Cinermama Dome in Hollywood and was very dramatic even by today's standard (ie... vs I Max). Also, I love the sound track!

    I bought this movie to give my youngest boy and my grandchildren a taste of both old movies and "How the West was Won". Though the movie is not politically correct it creates a forum for discussion about America's migration west. As we venture into outer space, we may encounter the similar situations.

    As of this moment we have not finished the movie. The beginning is slow but very engaging. I cannot recommend this movie enough!

    By it, enjoy it, and discuss it with all!...more info
  • I would give this Blu-ray version more stars due to......
    I would give this Blu-ray version more stars due to this is flawless. I love the 2nd disc (only on blu-ray version) Smileybox effect. I have even a 42 inch HD tv and it looked great. I watched it tonight and will probably watch it again tomarrow (the 2nd disc, smileybox). I even after that watched the hour and half documenty on the history of Cinearama (on the first disc that has the letter box widesreen version it also), and throughly enjoyed that. Brvavo !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:-)...more info
  • Recreate the "Cinerama 3-Screen" on Front-Projection Home Theaters
    It's hard to convey to today's younger audience the impact that the "Cinerama" theater experience had on 1950's-60's audiences. It was the ulimate 3D of its day. Three giant screens - two of which curved around the front sides of the theater -- with three separate projectors plus surround sound channels -- all combined into a memorable movie experience. How the West was Won was an attempt to use this process in a story telling movie script. This may not have succeeded per se, but some of the scenery and acting by Hollywood's legendary actors makes it interesting, especially if you fast-forward some of the less interesting scenes.

    Now thanks to digital technology the Cinerama effect can be simulated at home, particularly for those with big front-screen projection set-ups. This Blu-ray edition includes perhaps the most unique-to-date disc projection called "SmileBox". It attempts to recreate that 3-screen, wrap-around affect using an optical hour-glass display of the original film. The bigger your screen the more realistic. We have a 14-foot wide Elite screen and leverage a Panasonic AX100U projector in our family room. Wow! If you are a techie film buff and ever had attended a 'live' Cinerama show, this is for you. Again, this best on large screens only I suggest.

    Also, some real digital clean-up work was spent on this newest release making the purchasing a worthwhile addition to a home video library....more info
  • How the West Was Won - Re-release - Blu-Ray
    The film may not be everyone's cup of tea. However, it represents cinema-technology at a place we do not see now nor likely to see again. CINERAMA was an event. This film its best effort.
    The transfer was creative, clean, and helped place some of the magic of the format in my home theater. A beautiful transfer, a creative method of display, and a lot of old memories reborn....more info
  • A terrific transfer!
    I saw this movie in Washington, DC, at the Uptown Theater, the only true Cinerama theater in town. The 3-70mm camera Cinerama experience was far more important than the actual movie but it was fantastic! Actually, I went back and saw this movie three times, all because of Cinerama.

    I love westerns, always have, but this one, from a pure movie standpoint, is not great. You can easily see the different director's styles as the film moves from era to era and sometimes the acting and writing is, to be charitable, weak. Nonetheless, the scope and beauty is undeniable.

    Now, this digital transfer is here and it's outstanding in every way. Blu Ray really does it justice and anyone who considers older films unworthy for HD release should see this. It's not pristine but it's up there with the best and the "lines" separating the three camera screens, so evident in the original, has been nearly eliminated . Surprisingly, the "Smilebox" format works very well, simulating the original three camera experience. I found myself sitting on the floor in front of my usual sofa seating position and creeping closer and closer to my 60" Sony. It brought back fond memories of the original viewings at the Uptown.

    In fact, I'm going back to see it again tomorrow night!

    arkiedan...more info
  • What a way to go, the ol' west!
    If there was ever a time to experienc the gratiication of exploration, the ol'US West gave every individual the opportubity to become a part of the 'thrill-of-it-all'!...more info
  • Almost as good as it gets
    If you can't see HOW THE WEST WAS WON in full three-screen Cinerama, this is just about the next best thing. I only regret that this package doesn't include the "Smilebox" version that simulates the curved Cinerama screen (you'll have to get the Blu-ray for that). But otherwise, this package is well worth having for its gorgeous image and full-range audio, its informative five-handed commentary, the excellent CINERAMA ADVENTURE documentary about the Cinerama process itself, and the nifty hard-copy extras: miniature facsimiles of the souvenir program, press book, lobby cards and on-set photos. After all the wretched video transfers of this classic western, we finally have one that does it as much justice as home video can. ...more info
  • Fantastic transfer of a classic movie
    Just purchased the Ultimate Collector's Edition of How The West Was Won and Warner's have done themselves proud. One of the best DVD transfers ever. But, can someone tell me where on the discs I can find the "Making of..." featurette? Searched the menu's on each disc and cannot locate it....more info
  • Great picture and Sound
    Unbelievable picture quality and soundtrack. The lines from the 3 strip original are only just noticable in all but a few scenes and mostly the sky area.
    Worth the purchase. ***** stars....more info
  • How The West Was One ( Blu-ray )
    What a great movie this is in Blu-Ray version, it's a credit to the people who have remade it to digital I highly recommend it....more info