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Union Pacific [VHS] (1939)

Barbara Stanwyck , Joel McCrea , Cecil B. DeMille  |  NR |  VHS Tape
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

Price: $26.90
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Union Pacific [VHS] + Western Union
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Product Details

  • Actors: Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea, Akim Tamiroff, Robert Preston, Lynne Overman
  • Directors: Cecil B. DeMille
  • Writers: C. Gardner Sullivan, Ernest Haycox, Frederick Hazlitt Brennan, Jack Cunningham, Jeanie Macpherson
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, HiFi Sound, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Universal Studios Ho
  • VHS Release Date: March 28, 1995
  • Run Time: 135 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6303382983
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,407 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

One of the last bills signed by President Lincoln authorizes pushing the Union Pacific Railroad across the wilderness to California. But financial opportunist Asa Barrows hopes to profit from obstructing it. Chief troubleshooter Jeff Butler has his hands full fighting Barrows' agent, gambler Sid Campeau; Campeau's partner Dick Allen is Jeff's war buddy and rival suitor for engineer's daughter Molly Monahan. Who will survive the effort to push the railroad through at any cost?

Amazon.com

"The legend of Union Pacific is the drama of a nation, young, tough, prodigal and invincible, conquering with an iron highroad the endless reaches of the West." This stemwinder of a foreword strikes the pseudo-biblical/American Empire keynote for Cecil B. DeMille's "history" of building the transcontinent railroad. Only the bombast--and Arthur Rosson's second-unit direction--rises to the film's epic mission. The mustache-twirling villainy is right out of 19th-century melodrama, and the romantic triangle of Joel McCrea's railroad troubleshooter, Barbara Stanwyck's aggressively "Oirish" postmistress-on-wheels, and their black-sheep chum played by newcomer Robert Preston is a feeble distraction. Worse, the stars do their stuff on studio sets, in sterile isolation from the locomotives, Indians, and buffalo hovering slightly out of scale on process screens behind them. There's not one but two train wrecks (always a DeMille favorite); in every other department, John Ford had C.B. beat 15 years earlier with The Iron Horse. --Richard T. Jameson


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars MOLLIE MONAHAN November 18, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Cecil B. DeMille's contribution for that sterling movie year of 1939 was, of all things, a Western; but it's a brawling, two-fisted, action-packed Western. It is the story of the Union Pacific Railway, which was destined to link two oceans and open up the West. It's like a rough-and-tumble heavyweight slugfest-exciting, thrilling, gory and cumbersome. Stanwyck is excellent as the Irish Molly Monahan and as Jeff, Joel McCrea is first-rate - as Dick Allen, Robert Preston is terrific. DeMille's first choice for Molly was Jean Arthur; when she was unavailable, her turned his favourite, Barbara Stanwyck - they had worked together many times on the LUX RADIO THEATRE. The exterior shots were filmed in Iron Springs, Utah and Canoga Park, California (to double for Promontory Point). Interestingly enough, the golden spike used in the movie was the actual one used at Promontory Point. DeMille had it exhumed from the vault of Wells Fargo in San Francisco! Joel McCrea commented that Stanwyck was "Absolutely fearless and has more guts than most men". Also: "I have never worked with an actress who was more cooperative, less temperamental and a better workman, to use my term of highest compliment, than Barbara Stanwyck". - Cecil B. DeMille.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Better Than Average De Mille Film November 16, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
If it's directed by Cecil B. de Mille, you know there's going to be plenty of spectacle, and this film is no exception. Joel McCrea stars as a man hired by the Union Pacific railroad to be a troubleshooter as the build the railroad across the country. Not everyone wants to see it built, so sabotage causes lots of delays. Things get even more complicated for McCrea because his old pal Robert Preston is partnered with Brian Donlevy, one of the men trying to delay the construction. To add to it, Preston and McCrea are both in love with the same woman, an Irish lass named Molly played by Barbara Stanwyck. Train wrecks, Indian attacks, brawls, and other De Mille touches enliven the story. The actors aren't given much to work with, as in most De Mille spectacles, but they do well enough, although Stanwyck's accent is a little hard to swallow. Akim Tamiroff and Lynne Overman, as men hired to protect McCrea, add a lot of humour to the film with their knowing performances. The story moves along at a good pace, and although I like to make fun of Cecil B. De Mille movies, I must admit that I enjoyed this one more than some of the others I have seen. I like the time period and the trains, and in De Mille's hands, it's certainly not boring.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This film epitomizes the building of America, by heros and heroines. If you love steam engines, train wrecks, romance, dirty politics, and Indian fights, go for this classic. A complicated love triangle interweaves with the race to Ogden, Utah by the first intercontinental railroads. Barbara Stanwyck plays Molly, a "take-charge" Irish woman of highest integrity, forced to balance her romantic life with her dedication to the Union Pacific railroad. Implausable, but fun, including some good comedic bits. It's a "John Wayne" type of story, only without Mr. Wayne.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
Well what we've got here is a large-scale "epic" (though black-and-white in a year famous for it's early color spectacles) Cecil B. DeMille western, competing in the "great" year of 1939 with the now-acknowledged masterpiece Stagecoach, and the pretty well-remembered and regarded DESTRY RIDES AGAIN, ALLEGHENY UPRISING, THE OKLAHOMA KID, and the first three color examples of the genre - DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK, DODGE CITY and JESSE JAMES. How does Mr. DeMille, the King of Hollywood, compare with all of that (not to mention about 125 more westerns that haven't fared quite so well in popular memory over the past 70 years)?

Only moderately well, I'd have to say. Though it boasts an unquestionably fine cast led by Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea, Robert Preston, Brian Donlevy and Anthony Quinn, and some spectacular action sequences (two train wrecks, a train robbery, a couple of gunfights and a big Indian raid), much of the time the film comes off as little more than a mass of clichés, bad dialogue, and stereotypes that would make Charlie Chan, Fu Manchu and Stepin Fetchit blush. The plot's interesting enough - the building of the transcontinental railroad as seen through a railroad engineer/"problem solver" (McCrea), the villains (Preston and Donlevy) he has to stop from sabotaging the title railroad from reaching the halfway point first (all for the financial gain of an unscrupulous banker), and the railroad post-woman (Stanwyck) torn between the man (Preston) she's promised herself to, and the more obviously heroic McCrea character; but everything is pretty much telegraphed here, the characters with the exception of Preston all wholly good or wholly bad and the action all rather absurdly overblown.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
What was it that Cecil B. DeMille gave to his movies? Well, how about sentimentality as thick as mashed potatoes, florid exposition, corny humor, American patriotism on a platter, shameless death scenes, ethnic stereotypes, casual and condescending racism, hypocritical bible thumping, leering sex, truly hairy beards and mustaches, ponderous oratory and the kind of obviously manipulative situations that can turn even the best actors into mannequins. Did I leave anything out?

But DeMille knew how to serve up spectacle and action, paced to keep the story moving faster and faster. His movies are awful, even if a few still at times stand up to current tastes. In an unfair world, they nearly all are still watchable, with their flaws often as enjoyable as their merits. That brings us to Union Pacific, DeMille's telling of the great effort to build the first rail line across the American continent.

Or as the movie tells us, "The legend of Union Pacific is the drama of a nation, young, tough, prodigal and invincible, conquering with an iron highroad the endless reaches of the West. For the West is America's Empire and only yesterday Union Pacific was the West."

The Central Pacific would build east and the Union Pacific, from Omaha, would build west. The idea was to meet in Ogden, Utah. The company that gets there first will establish a major rail terminal and make lots and lots of money. If unscrupulous financial opportunist Asa Burrows has his way, it won't be the Union Pacific. If Captain Jeff Butler (Joel McCrea) does his job, it will be. Butler is the smart, brave, handsome, fast-with-a-gun, true and honest chief troubleshooter for the Union Pacific. Opposing him is Burrows' unscrupulous agent, the gambler Sid Campeau (Brian Donlevy). The plan is simple.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful movie with Stanwyck and Joel Mc Crea
Wonderful movie with Stanwyck and Joel Mc Crea. Stanwyck plays a young lady who has an Irish accent which she does extremely well, and it's about the building of the Union Pacific... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Barbara Bryant
5.0 out of 5 stars my grandfather loved
just as described, my grandfather loved it
Published 2 months ago by Heather Morello
5.0 out of 5 stars intersting story
Good copy of the old film, good copying with no bad filming, or color distortion. Worth the cost of the dvd.
Published 7 months ago by richardbahr
3.0 out of 5 stars It is what it is. Cost effective.
Not available on DVD (at least when I bought it). A neat historical film. It is what it is. Cost effective.
Published 10 months ago by Maurice K
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie
They do not make them like this anymore. Fortunately we still have a VCR player as this was not available in an affordable DVD
Perfect condition. Thank you
Published 12 months ago by Bunny B
4.0 out of 5 stars Union Pacific Movie
A great motion picture when movies were great. Cecil B. DeMille knew exactly what he was doing when he made this epic.
Published 13 months ago by truck107
4.0 out of 5 stars Union Pacific
I mainly bought this old clasic because Joe DeYong, the protege of Charles M. Russell had a hand in the costume design. It is a watchable flick of the classic western genre
Published 18 months ago by fussy about westerns
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Trains
What a great movie! So fun to watch. It was neat to see Barbara so nice!!! This is a VHS but we just had to have it. All old movies should be enhanced and put in DVD format. Read more
Published on November 26, 2010 by MD Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Western Epic
"Union Pacific" is a action-packed Western showing how the transcontinental railroad was constructed. Made in 1939, the movie is ahead of its time in special effects. Read more
Published on October 21, 2010 by Loyd E. Eskildson
3.0 out of 5 stars The film is undoubtedly great fun although perhaps embarrassingly...
DeMille's railroading epic owed a debt or two to Ford... He was obviously influenced by "The Iron Horse"(1924) and there are some sequences which seem more than derivative--in... Read more
Published on February 11, 2009 by Roberto Frangie
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