Hollywood’s most celebrated luminaries--behind the camera as well as in front of it--combined talents to present this epic tale of the development of the American West from the 1830s through the Civil War to the end of the century, as seen through the eyes of one pioneer family.
The film, divided into three chapters--"The Civil War" (directed by John Ford), "The Railroad" (directed by George Marshall), and "The River, the Plains, the Outlaws" (directed by Henry Hathaway)--tells the story of the Prescotts, a spirited group of easterners who make a declaration to migrate west. When their parents are lost in a tragic river accident, Eve (Carroll Baker) and Lilith (Debbie Reynolds) go their separate ways. Eve remains on the land that took her parents, settling down with the well-intentioned Linus Rawlings (James Stewart), while Lilith becomes a singer who is courted by the conniving Cleve Van Valen (Gregory Peck) when he learns that she has inherited a fortune in California. As time passes and the Civil War takes the life of Linus, the newest generation of Prescott offspring struggles with even greater danger and loss, in the form of fierce Indians as well as family archrivals.
Top-notch production values and an endless string of solid performances have earned HOW THE WEST WAS WON the well-deserved label as one of Hollywood’s most revered classics.
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