How the West Was Won (film)

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How the West Was Won is a 1962 film about a family saga covering several decades of Westward expansion in the nineteenth century - including the Gold Rush, the Civil War, and the building of the railroads.

Directed by John Ford, Henry Hathaway, and George Marshall. Written by James R. Webb.
The epic journey of four generations of Americans who carved a country with their bare hands.  (taglines)


  • [as the camera pans over the Rocky Mountains] This land has a name today, and is marked on maps. But the names and the marks and the maps all had to be won, won from nature and from primitive man.
  • [about the Erie Canal ] About 150 years ago, an idea took shape in the mind of a man named DeWitt Clinton. And in the way Americans have of acting out their dreams, it came to be.
  • [about the Civil War] Evening of April 6, 1862. The guns that roared all day fell silent, around a little church called the Shiloh Meeting House. Many a man had met his God that Sunday... but not in church... It had been the bloodiest day of the war on the Western Front. In the morning it had looked like a Confederate victory, but by nightfall, no man dared use the words "win" or "lose." After Shiloh, the South never smiled.
  • The west was won by its pioneers, settlers, adventurers is long gone now. Yet it is theirs forever, for they left tracks in history that will never be eroded by wind or rain - never plowed under by tractors, never buried in the compost of events. Out of the hard simplicity of their lives, out of their vitality, of their hopes and sorrows grew legends of courage and pride to inspire their children and their children's children. From soil enriched by their blood, out of their fever to explore and be, came lakes where once were burning deserts - came the goods of the earth; mines and wheat fields, orchards and great lumber mills. All the sinews of a growing country. Out of their rude settlements, their trading posts came cities to rank among the great ones of the world. All the heritage of a people free to dream, free to act, free to mold their own destiny.

Zebulon Prescott[edit]

  • O Lord, without consulting with Thee, we have sent thy way some souls whose evil ways passeth all understanding. We ask Thee humbly to receive them... whether you want them or not! Amen.

Lilith Prescott[edit]

  • I've got two things no one can ever take from me: This... [pointing to a picture of her husband] and my land in Arizona.

Zeb Rawlings[edit]

  • [to Mike King] Take a good look. You wanted a war, mister, you got one. I hope you're the first man killed in it.
  • It ain't quite what I expected. There ain't much glory in lookin' at a man with his guts hanging out.

Jethro Stuart[edit]

  • [to Zeb Rawlings] Settled down for a year, once. Took ten years off my life!

Charlie Gant[edit]

  • One of these days I'm likely to pay you Rawlingses a little visit.
  • There's only one kind of peace I know of, Marshal. That's the kind my brother's got.


  • Agatha Clegg: [Lily has asked to partner-up with Agatha in a wagon train] You know something ? I got a hunch you're gonna draw men like fish to bait. Maybe I can catch one of them while they swim by. You got yourself a partner.
  • Cpl. Peterson: Mrs. Rawlings, there ain't much glory in trompin' behind a plow.


Parson Alec Harvey: The laddie's health the reason you're heading west?
Zebulon Prescott: Partly, only partly. Mostly our trouble east was rocks. I had me a farm where some years I'd raise a hundred bushels of rocks to the acre.
Rebecca Prescott: Now, Zebulon, you hadn't oughta lie to the man like that.
Zebulon Prescott: Wife, I'm a god fearin soul and I tell the truth as I see it. Now I never used a plow, I'd blast out the furrows with gunpowder. And then one morning, I hauled the bucket up from out of the well and so help me the bucket was full of rocks. Rocks! I just stood there, right still, tryin' not to blaspheme, and I said to myself, "You've got a son that's ailin, you've got a twenty year old daughter what won't take to herself a husband, there she sits over there, moonin as usual, and you've got another daughter who just don't seem quite right in the head". Lilith! Now, I remind you sir, I'm still standin' there, holding a bucket full of rocks, and starin into a bleak old age. So I made me a vow right then and there, I said, "If I can find a man with five hundred dollars, who likes rocks, then there's going to be another fool ownin this farm. Well sir, the Lord provided such a man, and here I am.
Rebecca Prescott: He ain't told you one word of truth, Mr. Harvey. We had the best farm in the township.
Zebulon Prescott: Yeah, Rockville Township it was. Stone County.

Linus Rawlings: Thank ya, ma'am. That's right tasty.
Rebecca Prescott: You've only ate four plates, I was beginning to think you didn't like it.
Linus Rawlings: No, well, it don't pay to eat too much on an empty stomach, ma'am.

Dora Hawkins: [after stabbing Linus Rawlings] Well, he see'd the varmint, Pa.
Col. Jeb Hawkins: Well done, daughter.
Dora Hawkins: I ain't so sure. It was hard muscle and I could feel the blade just kinda skitter along his ribs.
Col. Jeb Hawkins: Oh, you just need more practice, that's all. It's a pity you ain't got the knack your ma had, Lord rest her soul.

Roger Morgan: Wet or dry, you're the handsomest woman I ever did see. Spirit and a fine sturdy body. It's a noble combination, Miss Prescott. Why, for you, child bearin' would come as easy as rollin' off a log.
Lilith Prescott: Well, I... think I'd rather roll off a log, Mr. Morgan.

Roger Morgan: Well, ain't that what I been doin'? Invitin' you? Invitin' you to share my life, Miss Prescott.
Lilith Prescott: I'm sorry, Mr. Morgan.
Roger Morgan: It's somethin' else, ain't it? Must be something else naggin' at ya. Well, I don't aim to let it stop me, Miss Prescott. You can count on that.
[he leaves]
Agatha Clegg: What'd he want?
Lilith Prescott: Children.
Agatha Clegg: Children? Well, I'll be... Why didn't he come shoppin' at the right store?

Cleve Van Valen: From the first moment I saw you I've known that I couldn't live without you.
Lilith Prescott: Well... I'd hate to be the cause of your death, Mr. Van Valen.

Zeb Rawlings: Do you remember the story Pa used to tell us about fightin' that grizzly bear?
Jeremiah Rawlings: Yeah.
Zeb Rawlings: And I asked him, I said, 'Now, why'd you get in such a fix? Do you like fightin' grizzlies?' He said, 'Well, not 'specially. I just wanted to go somewhere and the bear was there first.' I guess I just wanna go somewhere, too.

Zeb Rawlings: Boys, get back from there! Look down there son. Do you know how deep that shaft is?
Prescott Rawlings: Huh uh.
Zeb Rawlings: That's a thousand feet deep. Do you know how deep a thousand feet is? Well, if you had two hundred brothers all standing on your shoulders, you wouldn't be able to see over the top.
Prescott Rawlings: I'd be squooshed.

Mike King: Why did you bring those bodies here?
Jethro Stuart: They're railroaders. I thought somebody in the railroad might be interested.
Mike King: Well, I'm the railroad and I'm not interested. You should have buried 'em where you found 'em, then tracked down the Indians who did it.

Zeb Rawlings: Mike King don't own the railroad!
Jethro Stuart: Oh? I don't think he knows that.


  • The epic journey of four generations of Americans who carved a country with their bare hands.
  • It's here! The mightiest adventure ever filmed!
  • 24 Great Stars In The Mightiest Adventure Ever Filmed!


Introduced in "The Rivers"[edit]

Introduced in "The Plains"[edit]

Introduced in "The Civil War"[edit]

Introduced in "The Railroad"[edit]

Introduced in "The Outlaws"[edit]

External links[edit]

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