How The West Was Won, released in 1962, was the greatest Cinerama movie ever done, and also one of the greatest western movie ever filmed. It's definitely THE western that each Disney theme park fan should watch, if you've not watched it yet.
Why? Because i don't know any western movie that is so close to the Frontierland spirit than this one. from the Rocky Mountains trappers to the Mississipi riverboats, from Indians attack to a stunning buffalos sequence, from river pirates to a thrilling attack aboard a train, everything that you have in your collective subconscious about the old West is there.
Not only the movie was filmed in Cinerama - meaning that each scene was filmed with three cameras giving a thrilling 180° view - but it was also filmed by three different directors - John Ford, Henry Hathaway and George Marshall - and played by an all stars cast from John Wayne to Henry Fonda, Gregory Peck, Richard Widmark, George Peppard, James Stewart, Karl Malden, Debbie Reynolds, Agnes Moorehead, etc...all the great actors of Hollywood golden era were there.
Watching How the West was won is just feeling "at home", in Frontierland, during the 164 min of the movie. It's one of the favorite movie of many WDI Imagineers, and there is a good reason for that. It tells the story of the old West and although it's a bit an "idealized" vision of it - like it can be in Frontierland - it's also quite faithful to the real History.
Now, Cinerama theaters almost have all disappeared - one of the last where you could see the movie was in Dayton, Ohio, but i think it's now closed. May be there is one left in Los Angeles. But the good news is that the Blu-Ray version released some years ago include a special disc showing the movie in what they call "smile box" format, giving you the same vision that spectators in 1962 could see the film at Cinerama theaters. You still can find it at Amazon HERE for $19.99, and believe me, you'll love it!
But there is also another reason why Disney parks fans should see How The West Was Won, and specially Disneyland Paris fans. Don't miss my DLP update on Monday, and i will tell you why!
Above and below, some HD screen shots - in "smile box" format - of some of the magnificent sequences of the movie.
Pictures: copyright MGM - Cinerama