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How the West Was Won [Blu-ray]

3.8 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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1 used from CDN$ 49.99
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Product Details

  • Actors: Henry Fonda, Carroll Baker, Debbie Reynolds, Eli Wallach, James Stewart
  • Directors: George Marshall, Henry Hathaway, John Ford
  • Writers: James Webb
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Canadian Home Video Rating : Parental Guidance (PG)
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Warner Bros. Home Video
  • Release Date: Sept. 9 2008
  • Run Time: 162 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #43,013 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Product Description

How The West Was Won


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

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I like westerns. My favorite entries in the genre are spaghetti westerns, those cheap, ultra low budget Italian takes on the American West. I always try to fit some of these movies into my viewing schedule, and when the day came where I considered it time to watch Sergio Leone's epic "Once Upon a Time in the West," I headed out to rent it. Imagine my surprise when I got home and saw that I inadvertently checked out "How the West Was Won" instead. I scratched my head, not familiar at all with the title. After all, I like westerns but I don't know a lot about the genre or the films I have yet to see. When I saw the cast list for this 1962 movie, I decided not to take it back without watching and seeing if I liked it. I think I would be remiss to have skipped this one on initial impression alone; the cast list reads like a "who's who" of mid twentieth century Hollywood. You've got Carroll Baker, Lee J. Cobb, Agnes Moorehead, Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, George Peppard, Debbie Reynolds, Eli Wallach, John Wayne, Richard Widmark, Walter Brennan, Karl Malden, Carolyn Jones, Harry Morgan, Raymond Massey, and Robert Preston filling the roles. Spencer Tracy voices the narration. Howard Hawks and John Ford directed specific segments of the film. What a list of talent! Couldn't go wrong with a movie like this one, right? Wrong.
As amazing as it seems, "How the West Was Won" is not a very good experience. The movie runs for an eternity as it attempts to describe the different experiences in settling the American West. At the beginning of the film, the Prescott clan heads out to the West in search of farmland and a new beginning.
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Format: DVD
Warner Home Video has announced a 2-disc special edition of How the West Was Won which stars John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and James Stewart. The set will be available to own from the 9th of Sept 2008, and should retail at around $20.97. As well as a remastered,anamorphic and restored widescreen presentation, the 2-disc release will include a Film Historian Commentary, Dave Strohmaier's critically-acclaimed, feature-length documentary Cinerama® Adventure, Making of How the West Was Won (Archival featurette), and the original theatrical trailer. An Ultimate Collector's Edition will also be available for $59.92, $61.99 cdn. This will include a 3-disc special edition, as well as a 20-page theatrical press book reproduction, 10 behind-the-scenes photo cards and 10 postcards, and an exclusive movie poster offer.

Streeting simultaneously will also be a Blu-ray(tm) Hi-Def ($34.99 SRP) version. Again, all the 2-disc features will be included, along with special Digi-book packaging featuring 32-pages of rare press materials and behind-the-scenes photos. Also, exclusive to STD DVD & Blu-ray is the "SmileBox" version of the film which presents the image with a unique curvature that virtually recreates the true Cinerama® experience in a home theater. Aspect ratio?? 2.89:1 which is approx 5% wider than Ben Hur.
Due to HP technology they and Warner Bros restoration experts have removed the two bars that was in previous wide screen versions and have also removed and cleaned up the images that overlap the three screens divided by these two lines. It will also be Anamorphic widescreen for aspect ratio of 2.35 to maybe 2.55 for the main feature, as the smile box is the third disc.
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Format: Blu-ray
If all Blu-ray movies were presented as well as this one, I'd own quite a few more. This is how it should be done.

The packaging, for once, actually adds to the value. The two discs are held inside the covers of a hardback book. The book itself is beautifully printed, and filled with fascinating background info about the film. It could be thicker, but it's really a strong asset to the entire experience.

The movie has been impeccably restored. Where the three camera images have been joined, the marks have been erased to the point that you only rarely notice them. The image is bright, clear and almost supernaturally sharp. And the ENTIRE image is here: the full 4x3 TIMES three of the original Cinerama version.

On top of all this there's the unique SmileBox presentation. This re-creates the Cinerama experience about as well as you'll ever see it on a flat screen. The left and right edges are taller than the middle, and the image has been subtly stretched as well, essentially presenting a perspective representation of the original curved screen. I was impressed, but if you don't care for it, fear not, the conventional 'flat' version is here too, on a separate disc, so neither is compromised by compression.

After seeing this movie, I understand just how abysmally bad other Blu-ray releases have been. (A notable offender is 2001: A Space Odyssey, which has had its ultra-widescreen single-strip Cinerama image brutally cropped!!) [EDIT- comments re 2001 suggest that this is not true. I await further evidence either way. Still, a lackluster Blu-ray, to my mind...]

My only complaint about How the West Was Won is the pricing. I bought it on Amazon.ca at $17.99. I see it's now over ten dollars more. Close to $30 is WAY WAY WAY TOO MUCH to pay for ANY movie.
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