Monday, May 21, 2012

How the West Was Won

Three generations of the Prescott family are seen to conquer the Old West, from their early travails in fording the Erie Canal, to encounters with bandits and Indians in the trek across the Great Plains, to dealings with the railroad and the San Francisco Gold Rush, up until service in the Civil War. "How the West Was Won" is a star-studded, expensive and expansive epic adventure film that is somewhat marred by its overlength, but kept in tack on the whole due to its hokey sense of fun and peril. Directed by three greats, John Ford, Henry Hathaway, and George Marshall and narrated by Spencer Tracy, the film is also buoyed  by the cameo appearances made by such stars as John Wayne, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, and Gregory Peck while other familiar faces such as Richard Widmark, Eli Wallach, Lee J. Cobb, and Walter Brennan. There are also several impeccable action sequences, including a dynamic Indian raid, that help pick up the pace following dull stretches of the film.