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Monday, November 02, 2015

This Was Cinerama

Henry Hathaway, at Right in Hat, Directs HTWWW

Smileboxed by How The West Was Won (1962)

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Are there fans of How The West Was Won beyond those who got to see it in Cinerama? I missed that experience, and would duck HTWWW for years leading to Warner's restored Blu-Ray. Now came question of how to go about the belated view. Solution was to project the "Smilebox" version on a wide screen, then sit close as possible to its pin-sharp image for at least hint of what roadshows saw. A crudest simulation, though I got one advantage they never had, the erasure of seam lines that were bane of three-panel play a half-century ago. Sitting so close was no bother, the simulated curve seeming real and all-engulfing. Got a wide screen or access to one? Try Cinerama this way and hand yourself a fun, if faux, immersion, an OK substitute so long as theatre revivals stay resolutely 3000 miles away. The trick works as well for fine Cinerama releases from Flicker Alley.

Duke as Sherman Takes Break from March To The Sea to Bark
at Harry Morgan as General Grant

John Ford with Henry Hathaway
How The West Was Won ran well over a year in dedicated three-panel houses, a massive hit for MGM, even as they were obliged to split with Cinerama partners, plus leave buckets for daily overhead that was house expense (imagine costs run up in booths alone, multiple union operators in each). Unlike earlier travelogues done in Cinerama, there was wide 35mm release for How The West Was Won, and eventual TV play. ABC ran it in two parts on January 21 and 22, 1973. I didn't watch, again the avoidance thing, as I knew this wasn't the real deal, and stretch over Sunday and Monday nights, plus avalanche of advertising, seemed too high a price to add on already compromised presentation. Cable runs through the 80's and 90's were cropped to but particle of what first-runs gave, and still you had seam lines. TCM at least offered letterbox, small comfort as even that fell short of intended width. It took Blu-Ray to approach '62 sensation, and finally give hint of what audiences saw in an epic whose charm had eluded those unborn or too young to get in roadshow line.


How The West Was Won is "All-Star" to almost suffocating degree, a very definition of too much of a good thing. Were tall paychecks a lure, or did they all sign on for knowing this would be an event movie that would keep participants on view over multiple months, if not years, of theatrical play? Three directors were hired, perhaps to keep shooting apace like Republic serials, which in a vast way, How The West Was Won sort of resembles. The three meggers were Henry Hathaway, John Ford, and George Marshall. I put Henry first because he would later (a little ungallantly) say the other two botched their end and he had to go back and re-do much of what at least Marshall was credited for. Even Ford's stuff was "lousy," according to ramrodding Hathaway, who took time/effort to learn Cinerama and its tricky application, as he was early on the project and stayed with it from start to finish. If you take HH on word, then, it would appear he directed lion's portion of HTWWW, excepting Ford share, which Hathaway admitted leaving alone because of pal Jack's exalted status.


And what of Ford's "Civil War"? It's the part modern viewers gravitate most to, as this is where biggest noise John Wayne has his moment, and yes, you could argue there's Ford "poetry" even on massive canvas that is Cinerama. He said in career look-back that trick to shooting so high and wide was to apply silent-era technique. Ford's part didn't take long, sources say five weeks. Kentucky location he used looks great, whole of background farm visible as Carroll Baker and George Peppard say goodbyes prior to latter's Yankee enlistment. Camp scenes, where Wayne shows up, were done on a sound stage, that being three panels as obvious as indoor for outdoor faking Ford did in The Searchers. Duke as General Sherman plays it big and throws down his cigar when irked. Did it occur to actors to tamp down for such enormous screens they'd fill? What action there is in the Ford unit was borrowed from Raintree County. He gets in lick at futility of war with soldiers of both sides having to drink post-combat from  streams of spilled blood, a vivid recall lots would take from How The West Was Won.

Debbie Shows Robert Preston How She Can Be A Better Lash LaRue Than Lash LaRue

Henry Hathaway's agent, Charles K. Feldman, wrote  MGM brass a stinging missive to effect that his client was robbed of proper credit for HTWWW. Hathaway thought too that he should get dominant director card, most of the finished film inarguably his, and unlike Marshall and Ford, HH was on the job for over a year and in receipt of every headache that sentence imposed. He'd end up a 60's equivalent of Victor Fleming on Gone With The Wind, only Hathaway didn't get public bows as came to Fleming, insiders alone knowing his was the master hand. HTWWW would be a rock in Hathaway's shoe to the end (read the terrific oral history conducted by Rudy Behlmer and published by Scarecrow), but the director in retirement told much of practical ordeal that was Cinerama and how it rode hard on players stood but eighteen inches in front of a looming triple-lens camera (any further back and you'd lose them in the landscape). Imagine having to emote with such a behemoth caressing your face, and yet a huge cast managed, several recounting ordeal in a documentary extra, Cinerama Adventure (written, produced, directed by David Strohmaier), which is included with the HTWWW Blu-Ray (feature-length, and by itself worth the disc purchase).

Post-Battle Water Tastes Kinda Funny to George Peppard

Further modern advantage of How The West Was Won is option to break it up over a couple sits, being less fatigue that way and easier on optics (mine already fritzed for sitting so close on HTWWW buffalo stampede). The show has sweep, plus stars sprinkled liberally, none throughout, but several (Debbie Reynolds, Carroll Baker) prominent before and after the intermission. You'll need stout D. Reynolds tolerance, she unsinkable in bullwhip-wield mode that was part of this personality's boisterous 60's line. Biggest names aren't here long enough to dominate, so Greg Peck, Stewart, Fonda, Dick Widmark, rotate through like guests on Burke's Law, or Batman cameos (just occurs to me: maybe they should have called this It's A Wild, Wild, Wild, Wild West). A lot of proceeds from How The West Was Won went to L.A. hospital charity, so could have been basis for some of sign-ons, despite none commanding the whole. I enjoyed How The West Was Won this time, earlier watch from further back and standard wide as opposed to Smilebox being more or less blah. Clincher was getting close as Cinerama camera got to HTWWW cast, and letting the thing envelop me, latter a nearest route to Cinerama temple short of a theatre run (but where?), or building a curved screen on home-site, with louvers hung (to prevent cross-light), plus technology to "warp" the projected image and achieve focus all the way across. Never mind expertise, patience, to get this done --- expense alone would be a deal-breaker.

31 Comments:

Blogger Mike Cline said...

As a 13-year-old lad who loved westerns, I experienced HTWWW in true Cinerama on NYC's "Great White Way" during a summer trip to the big city. The movie bored me to near tears. I don't know why, it just did.

I was more concerned, while visiting the Empire State Building, in determining which side of the skyscraper the mighty Kong had made his impact in the sidewalk, after the airplanes, no, wait, twas beauty killed the beast.

I tried watching HTWWW again nearly ten years later when I exhibited the movie during a theatrical re-release. Not enjoyable then either. The "seams" in the 35mm print proved too distracting. I recall I spent quite some time trying to explain to inquisitive patrons the "lines" down the screen all the way through the presentation. Most seem puzzled by my explanation.

So, it wasn't until the "seamless" DVD was released that I gave it another go. This time I liked it OK. It's not great, by any means, but enjoyable. My favorite scene was the 3D-like shot of Walter Brennan getting a chair in the face (shown from his eyes' perspective).

It took nearly 50 years for this WEST to win me over.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

My memories of watching HTWWW in Cinerama are limited to the raft going going down the rapids, the runaway train, and Debbie Reynolds dress, which reminded me of a birthday cake. Like Mike Cline, I, too, was bored.

My wife saw it in a non-Cinerama theatre and loved it. We caught it on TCM earlier this year, and I admit to enjoying it more as an adult. My advice to anyone watching it the first time is to just roll with it.

What really stunned me the second time around was John Wayne. When he stepped from behind that curtain, you didn't have to know who he was to realize that this was a 14-karat movie star, exuding presence the way few actors today do. I'm not saying he gave a great performance ... but, boy, he was a star.

2:16 PM  
Blogger radiotelefonia said...

I saw it a few times and I never cared about the seams. It is an OK film, not really memorable and no masterpiece, despite it does have exciting action scenes. The issue that instead of a complete movie, it feels like a chronological compilation of 5 shorts, which is why it feels that it is way over produced.

2:36 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Richard M. Roberts was among lucky ones to see HTWWW in a Cinerama house:


John,

We’ve always called this film HOW DEBBIE REYNOLDS WON THE WEST,
because that is apparently the underlying message MGM was portraying, perhaps
that’s why the Civil War section is the most memorable because she doesn’t win
that single-handedly for us in the darn thing. In any event, it’s a darn good
show in Cinerama, which I caught at an early reissue at our beloved Cinerama
Theater just a few miles from home, the Bethany, which unfortunately or
fortunately never lost it’s Cinerama screen during it’s entire history (the
Cinerama projection booth also remained as well), allowing us to view 70mm
films like the 1959 BEN-HUR and even CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND in a
sort of faux-Cinerama (made it kinda hard to watch Academy-ratio films there
though, those films always looked more folded than curved).

You didn’t
mention my favorite cameo, though one of the commentators did, and that was
Walter Brennan, playing one of his few late non-comic villains in a wonderfully
slimy turn. This was smack in the middle of his lovable-but-crotchety old man
phase, and he never did that many baddies to begin with, though he always did
them surprisingly and dangerously well, but I always remembered seeing it
first-time being shocked that Gran’pa McCoy had gone over to the dark side.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Stinky Fitzwizzle said...

Seems like a lot of machinations to go through to watch this turkey on the TV. Easier was when I was a kid and I would pretend our black-and-white television was color by watching it through a butterscotch candy wrapper.

9:45 PM  
Blogger moviepas said...

I saw this in its real Cinerama glory one Saturday morning back when it was new at Melbourne/Australia's Cinerama Theater, Hoyt's Plaza Theater(below The restored Regent where they filmed Love Never Dies for DVD & Blu Ray at a stage performance. Loved the film as a boy and love my Smilebox. Saw Disney's The Parent Trap around the corner at one of MGM's two city theaters(this one due for unwanted demolition by developers.

Where is The Brothers Grimm Smilebox. Love ro see WB restore that one for Blu Ray. Little current hope I guess.

Ken/Australia

3:14 AM  
Blogger Jerry Kovar said...

I too was fortunate (from a historic perspective) as a lad to see the original Cinerama release in NYC. The draw for me was that it was a western and beforehand I wasn't even aware or understood what the process was all about.
I too was bored, preferring that year's Six Black Horses with Audie Murphy and Dan Duryea, and felt overwhelmed by sitting too close to the screen. However I did return to Cinerama to be overwhelmed again by It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World the following year.

9:41 AM  
Blogger MikeD said...

First off, what were they thinking when they ended a movie full of wonderful scenery with a shot of a highway cloverleaf and telling us that this was progress! It reminds me of the first two segments of Disney's Carousel of Progress when the family moves from an idyllic farm to a city tenement and calls it progress(yeah, I know it mirrors Walt Disney's life).
Now that that is off my chest, my folks took me to see HTWWW at the Syosset, NY Cinerama for my tenth birthday. That trip down the rapids was a nail biter and the runaway train wasn't too shabby either. I know I was on the edge of my seat during those sequences. It may have been the first time I saw main characters killed off in a movie other than by the villain. The other two action sequences, the Indian attack and buffalo stampede , did not brand themselves in my mind like the rapids and train. I also remember feeling really bad for Tom Thumb, I mean Russ Tamblyn. That scene was a real downer. I think the Gregory Peck/Debbie Reynolds plot went over my head.
Was just out in California and visited Convict Lake, where Jimmy Stewart paddled his canoe away from the Indian camp, and Lone Pine, scene of the big Indian attack. You can still find remnants of Henry Fonda's cabin along Lone Pine creek if you crawl thru some overgrowth.

11:37 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Richard M. Roberts supplies info on a HTWWW location near him:


If you ever come out to our neck of the woods, I can take you up North
and show you the train station you see sporadically at the end of the film, the
Verde Valley Scenic Railroad in Clarkdale pulls into it at the far end of every
trip it makes before heading back home, it was the docking and unloading station
for a large private ranch that this 53 mile former logging track goes to. They
keep it in good condition, you can almost imagine Debbie Reynolds still standing
on it, that is, if you wanted to .

11:52 AM  
Blogger MikeD said...

I also meant to ask, how'd they ever win the west without Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott?

12:07 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

That's a good point, Mike. Do you think it would have risked all of the other actors' credibility to have Scott and McCrea on board?

12:12 PM  
Blogger FrankM said...

The Cinerama Theater in Dublin was located under the railway line going into Amiens Street (now Connolly) station. Sometimes, if we were very lucky, a train would pass over just as the buffalo stampede was on, shaking the cinema and adding a wonderful Sensurround effect!

12:46 PM  
Blogger MikeD said...

Hi John,
I would have liked to see the movie seque into the George Peppard lawman sequence with cameos of Scott and McCrae just walking down some western streets with stars on their chests, just as a tribute to their western work. I hadn't given consideration to their appearance diminishing the "western authenticity" of the others but you have a good point. My thought of just cameos was a concession to their ages in 1962.

2:49 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Agreed, Mike. A scene like what you describe, with the Scott/McCrea cameos, would have been just right. A pity it didn't happen in the film.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Dave K said...

Ha! Love the Scott/McCrea suggestions! Never saw this one all at once time, but in dribs and drabs over the years on the tube. DID see THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM at our Cinerama Theater and that was a big deal!

4:31 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Has THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM been shown ANYwhere in Cinerama over the last twenty or thirty years?

4:46 PM  
Blogger lmshah said...


Yes, BROTHERS GRIMM was shown at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood during the Cinerama Festival several years ago. I don't recall whether it was digital or film.


RICHARD M ROBERTS

6:57 PM  
Blogger Bill DeLapp said...

ABC first ran HOW THE WEST WAS WON as a single broadcast on Oct. 24, 1971, from 9 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. EST on the ABC Sunday Night Movie. It made for a long sit yet was still preferable than enduring a two-parter. One quick instance of violence was trimmed by TV censors, when Jimmy Stewart hurls a hatchet into the back of a villain, and also dropped was the modern-day epilogue featuring Spencer Tracy's narration as panoramic canyon vistas and overhead shots of West Coast highway cloverleafs were displayed.

10:52 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Had not realized HTWWW was shown first as a single-part in 1971, as the records i checked only indicated the two-part 1973 run. Thanks for that info, and the data re censorship. The hatchet business with Stewart WAS pretty rough, and I can well imagine ABC editors wanting it out.

3:58 AM  
Blogger kenneth Von Gunden said...

Gosh, some of the comments about finding original three-panel Cinerama "boring" are mind-boggling to me. I saw most of the original "story" films in real Cinerama (though both one-camera flicks "2001" and "It's a Mad...." were wonderful to see in a filled theater. Some folks were jaded kids; they must have been to "see the elephant" too many times and lost their senses of wonder!

4:42 PM  
Blogger John Rice said...

CInemark Theatres ran "How the West Was Won" digitally earlier this year as part of their 2 day "Classic" series. Thinking it would be nice to see one of my old guilty pleasure faves in a theatre again and hoping they would be showing the Smilebox version we went…and in the end wished we hadn't! Number one disappointment was that it was the restored letterbox rather than the Smilebox version and aside from the lack of seams really didn't look as good as the old 35mm Metrocolor prints to me.

BIG problem was the presentation though! The show started without the customary Cinemark trailers, just the Overture over black screen, house lights partially dim (fine for a roadshow) but I could already hear grumbling in the audience from fellow patrons who thought the picture was missing. Finally one guy went running out, obviously in search of somebody to complain to. Just as Leo the Lion roared and Alfred Newman's great and loud main title music came on the house lights turned on and some flunky in a suit came in and started screaming over the music that this was normal and there would also be an intermission…or something like that since nobody could hear him. House lights dimmed again, first half went okay.

House lights went up for about a 15 minute intermission, then partially dimmed for the Overture to second half. The audience seemed to grasp the idea by then but unfortunately somebody forgot to cue the full house light dimming after the Overture so lights remained way too bright and picture was washed out. This time it was me who had to go on a 10 minute search for that elusive flunky in a suit and clue him in to what was going on and let him know what I thought of the pathetic presentation.

In short we should have stayed home and watched our Blu-ray in Smilebox on our 60" Panasonic Plasma. It looks so much better that way! So much for film presentation in the year 2015, not that I was expecting much more!

9:06 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

I hear of so many such incidents taking place at theatres nowadays. It would seem we really are better off just watching our movies at home.

10:10 AM  
Blogger kenneth Von Gunden said...

John --

My wife and I can never understand why a group of teenagers or women together for a night out at the movies (sorry, women, but it is rarely men) just want to talk throughout the film--and loudly at that. Movies now cost upwards of $7 to $10 and popcorn and parking aren't cheap either. I mean, really, wouldn't it be more fun (and cheaper) to go to a coffee shop, get a donut or two, and just shoot the breeze? We have had a 55-inch TV for ten years and are getting a new UHD Smart TV that comes with a lot of cool new features and has a 60-inch screen. The lighting and seating are fine, the floor isn't sticky, and the popcorn is priced right!

11:49 AM  
Blogger Mikeymort said...

My parents took my brother and I to see this in St. Louis, Mo. Even as a nine-year old, I noticed the seams. The story was tough to follow and other than the three-panel presentation all I remembered was Debbie Reynolds singing a song. I've seen the picture as an adult now without the distracting lines and can appreciate it a little better, though I don't think it's a great film.

1:51 AM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

The picture quality on digital depends on the equipment being used. In the past the best labs could only make about four top of the line prints out of a run of possibly hundreds. With digital one great print is created. That quality is consistent on each DVD and Blu-ray. A friend who created Canada's Museum for Textiles teaches at one of this country's major universities. When he started he borrowed a projector from me because the ones he was given to use were not up to the standard he wanted. Now he uses his own projector. Students who have seen films projected in classrooms and people who have seen them projected elsewhere in Toronto gasp in awe when they experience them here. The sad truth is that anyone who cares can create with a good projector, sound system and screen a viewing experience superior to that in most cinemas. I have HOW THE WEST WAS WON and enjoyed the smile presentation over the wide screen one. Nonetheless, the experience does not equal true 3D (which, again, I experience better here than in most cinemas as do those who have seen 3D Films projected here). Back in the days of film when I toured with my prints I bought a theatrical 16mm projector to take on the road because the presentation too often had missed the mark first time out. I also brought along my own projectionist. When people carry on conversations during my programs I give them their money back and send them on their way. A journalist said, "I was told by people in the business you are crazy; that you give people their money back and kick them out if they talk during your programs." I replied, "I don't think people go to any presentation to hear the audience talk during it." The journalist said, "I never thought of that." I love digital cinema. After viewing even the best 16mm prints for decades I realized the first time I saw a DVD projected that it offered an infinitely better experience. Proud to be crazy. I spend the money I used to spend on poor presentation in cinemas on Blu-rays I can present at their best here. Today it is all digital anyway. We can also make better popcorn at home. It is too bad that caring about audiences as well as presentation makes us crazy in the eyes of many in the industry.

4:12 AM  
Blogger kenneth Von Gunden said...

I taught film for years, and for me film was film and digital was TV. Then I directed a film series just off the PSU Altoona campus at an old cinema that had been upgraded inside but lost its projectors. 16mm prints were usually in terrible shape, so we bought a DVD player and a decent video projector. At the very end of my tenure we got a new Blu-ray projector and showed only Blu-ray discs. Film is a special experience, but if the choice is between contrasty, chopped up 16-mm prints or a BRD, I'll take the digital any day.

9:25 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Couldn't agree more, Kenneth. I'd no more go back to 16mm than jump off the Chrysler Building.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

With 16mm every time a print went out on rental it ran the risk of real damage at the hands of people who for the most part did not respect it. Ditto 35mm etc.. A local art cinema made a big deal of showing 2001, A SPACE ODYSSEY, etc., on REAL film. Well, the prints had emulsion scratches, splices, missing footage, sprocket damage and the color had gone red. Say what you will, those days are gone and not missed with digital. Then there were the people who liked to cut out bits of film for souvenirs or whatever.

12:48 PM  
Blogger RobW said...

The BROTHERS GRIMM that was shown at the Cinerama Festival a few years ago was reportedly the only remaining Cinerama print in the world and reportedly from Europe. If memory serves, one of the reels had subtitles in another language but I can't recall which one. At one point the film jammed and the entire show had to be stopped and re-aligned. Russ Tamblyn was in the audience to introduce the film and improvised a few comments for the audience while the technicians tried to get back on screen. The movie itself was a lot of fun.

3:14 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Craig Reardon offers a fascinating account of his own first-run experience with HTWWW and Cinerama (Part One):


I know I've written more than once to say that I saw "How the West Was Won" in Cinerama in 1962. It remains a vivid memory. I wouldn't agree with my ten-year old self on the following, but then I thought it was wonderful. I loved its sprawl and its episodic construction, and the school bus load of genuine movie stars in it, let alone the fabulous character actors. I love Alfred Newman's main theme, and later came to appreciate the entire score and his uniquely soulful feeling for melody and harmony. I didn't know from directors then and I wonder if that isn't wisdom in disguise, as I've never entirely bought the whole director cult thing that the French (and Andrew Sarris) perpetrated. Actually working in film didn't do a lot to change this attitude--to the contrary! To me, little wonder a kid is apt to go out of a theater admiring stars, or music, or special effects or costumes or makeup or ANYTHING but 'direction', whatever that is. Some knocking of Debbie Reynolds here. She's great in the movie. I think one needs to look at her and bring no other associations from her life to the experience. Jeez, that little gal was talented. And, she never looked any better in the movies than she does in this movie. But you're all right, all those who commented; clearly, the narrative comes back to her character throughout like a magnetic center, and whoever was going to play that role had to be up to all its demands. I believe she was. I think she's getting a bum rap here.

"How the West..." literally enveloped you in a regulation Cinerama theater if you were seated far enough forward. You had to watch it like a tennis match, because its frame exceeded your peripheral vision on BOTH sides. It was as immersive as could be. The now dopey-looking false eyelines you're unable to overlook even in the delightful Smilebox simulation were actually effective in a huge theater, because as you followed the looks outward from the center panel, literally having to turn your head, the looks you saw on the side panels truly appeared to be looking 'forward' to the center panel. Hard to explain or describe, except to reiterate that it worked. It does NOT work on anything smaller or less curved, so I'm also saying it doesn't work on Smilebox, either, but this gimmick is a marvelous gesture toward suggesting the original experience, which the plain Super Panavision-like encoding fails at doing. The other phenomenon is the three rapidly diminishing perspectives of each of the three extreme wide angle lenses that recorded the action. This is very counter-realistic and gives this movie (as well as its companion, "...Brothers Grimm") a totally unique feeling, rather vertiginous. I wish I'd seen "...Grimm" in its first release. I vividly remember the publicity, though, chiefly the enormous, double-page ad run by MGM to promote it and a little bit later, "How the West...". Although Cinerama, the real deal, was not to continue and the name only badging of actual Panavision pictures such as "...Mad World" were Cinerama in name only, I'm glad those two were created before it all kind of blew a gasket.

4:50 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Craig Reardon on HTWWW and Cinerama (Part Two):


I think the same can be said for IMAX, now attached to various theatrical showings, which is as much not IMAX as the latter Cinerama melodramas (and comedies, like "...Mad World") were not original, 'true' Cinerama. Real, original IMAX films were shot on 150mm film and projected on gigantic, four-story high screens, and the frame was square. When you see these early IMAX pictures on Blu-ray, they are missing a huge portion of the original picture via a haircut on top and a proportional piece missing on the bottom, leaving just enough to fill your 16 x 9 TV at home. Of course, they still look excellent because the original negative was so enormous, but you're not getting the amazing immersive experience, not at all.

We must agree that the allure of Cinerama and the original IMAX was the presentation and the unique experience it afforded contrary to 'normal' moviegoing, NOT a matter of content, which varied as it does with all films. I think the extent to which "How the West Was Won" strives to serve the format rather than worry more about the narrative, with trick shots and trick compositions and stunts, may weaken the movie's integrity as such. But it was also based on an historical article which attempted to condense the westward movement in this country's history, and the dramatization is quite clever in personalizing this history, I think. However, since it's as overambitious as a typical James A. Michener novel (and he almost wrote a "How the West Was Won" in "Centennial"), it's not apt to satisfy people like many other Westerns with tighter time frames or more focused stories around more comprehensible situations and characters. It's a pageant, for sure, and I would say we---the audience I was part of in 1962---accepted it on that basis, too.

Craig

4:51 AM  

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