Villa Theatre
3092 Highland Drive
Salt Lake City, Utah


•News Articles

How The West Was Won 


•'How West Was Won' Premiere Sold Out
•'How The West Was Won' Exciting, Entertaining Movie


•11 April 1963 (Premiere)
•12 April 1963


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 Home  »  History  »  Cinerama   » 'How The West Was Won' Exciting, Entertaining Movie
Photos by David E. Jirovec, Deseret News staff photographer
Jon Provost, who plays Timmy on television's Lassie series; Gov. George D. Clyde and Reuben Cesspooch Jr., a full-blooded Indian from the Uinta-Ouray Reservation, were among those attending premiere of "How The West Was Won" Thursday night at the Villa.
Deseret News, 12 April 1963, page 6C

'How The West Was Won' Exciting, Entertaining Movie

By Howard Pearson
Deseret News Theater Editor
Deseret News, 12 April 1963, page 6C

"How The West Was Won" is big, brawling, exciting, comical, awe-inspiring, breath-taking -- and entertaining.

The new Cinerama movie that opened Thursday night at the Villa Theater should run for a year. Many of its performances are already sold out, and when word of its unusual highlights gets around, many more of its dates should bear SOLD OUT signs.

From the opening scenes of the story, when bulbous-nosed Karl Malden berates his daughters, Debbie Reynolds and Carrol Baker, for not being married, the smaltry fun begins.

The thin line of a story tells how three generations of a family turn out as America conquers her West. The plot (if it can be said there is a plot) unfolds as a series of separate episodes, each dealing with a separate facet of conquering the West.

Spencer Tracy ties them all together, his serious narration linking the scores of corny but entertaining scenes.

Although there are many highlights, one engrossing scene of 10 minutes duration near the end seems to leave audiences gasping. A frontier train hurtles across the desert with a fortune in gold aboard. Outlaws have learned of the fortune and, in best renegade fashion ride after the train, which has a steam engine, logs, and various other items on its flat cars.

A ragging gun battle takes place with a host of exciting segments. The train tears apart as it rushes over the desert.

The various parts fairly fly at the audience. Before this scene is over, nearly every nut and bolt has erupted from that massive Cinerama screen, and the last bit of the train is lost in a cloud of dust. The audience sinks back, weak from exhaustion.

There's another cliff-hanging episode when the Indians stampede a herd of buffalo upon a tent village of settlers. Cameramen were buried in tenches and at other vantage points to photograph this. Before the buffalo disappear over a hill, the audience is whirling with the picture and feels as if it has been run over by the rampaging herd of bison.

Photos by David E. Jirovec, Deseret News staff photographer
Sid Page (left), manager of the Villa Theater; Maurice Warshaw (center), executive officer of the Utah Society for the Physically Handicapped, and Indian Chief Reuben Cesspooch took part in "How The West Was Won" premiere activities.

Audiences at last night's premiere applauded at the end of both the train and buffalo scenes as well as at other places in the film

They chuckled, too, when Robert Preston made his rough, but from the bottom-of-the-heart proposal of marriage to Debbie Reynolds. "I have a ranch. I'll be a rich man . . . All you'll have to do is take care of the kids," he tells her.

But her heart has been given to Gregory Peck, who has turned from the Oscar-winning portrayal of a gentle small-town lawyer of "To Kill a Mockingbird," to the gamblin' man who ends up as a tycoon.

There is comedy, too, in Jimmy Stewart's mountain man, who spurns the romantic advances of Carroll Baker. "I couldn't be true to any one woman because I must visit the varmint (other women) in the big city ever once in while," he says.

Henry Fonda, sporting a handlebar mustache, supplies more humor as he seeks a hermit-like existence, which one suspects is forced upon him because of his dirty, unkempt condition.

Miss Reynolds, Peck, Preston, Malden, Stewart, Miss Baker, and Fend are only a few of the 24 stars who appear in the cast of the epic.

At every turn, "How The West Was Won" presents something new for observation.

There's the fantastic scenery, from cool forest stillness to the wild weirdness of America's Four Corner area.

There's the sound that's almost overwhelming at times because of the surround speakers. And there are the catchy folk numbers that invite an audience to get up and dance.

There's the bloody and brutal scene in the field hospital in the Civil War, one of the few serious segments in the picture, provocative, thoughtful, but savage.

"How the West Was Won" by no means represents the whole story in the winning of the frontier, but it shows a popular conception of some of the elements in the history.

Truly, it's an experience no moviegoer is likely to forget.