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Union Pacific [VHS]


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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: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6303382983
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,615 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

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By "scotsladdie" on 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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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By James L. on 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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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 26, 2000
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 By Michael Welch on March 18, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
This is artful entertainment; this is Cecil B. De Mille presenting an odd blend of celebration and deconstruction in his portrayal of the burgeoning American empire. Far-sighted statesmen and greedy corporate barons; vigilante "justice," racism, ridicule and praise for the durable Irish immigrants, a bolloxed love triangle, a spunky and noble Irish lass, a dissipated lover, a grim strong and silent type, a comic Mexican thug: De Mille's scriptwriters seem inspired to throw in as many elements to the plot as their imaginations allow; and the result isn't the mess you'd suspect but fascinating fun, some gripping action sequences, and a lovely story of confused love.
Barbara Stanwyck plays a guileful innocent, a warm-hearted dame better than both her suitors in her generous and wise understanding of human nature. Joel McCrea plays a super-stolid hero whose better part is realized by his attraction for Stanwyck's character; and Robert Preston is a flim-flam man, a gambler and crook whose love for Stanwyck's "Molly Monahan" redeems his otherwise unrepentent self.
De Mille plays this beguiling troika against the "canvas of history" and so personalizes the abstraction of history. John Ford's "Stagecoach," also released the same year, 1939, is more accomplished and its story more subtle, but not so much more. De Mille obviously enjoys his broad canvases, and his "history" tends to pompous pronouncement at times, but all history is biography for him, which means that -- just as with Ford -- the individual stories are what is important.
You'll like this movie: you'll love "Missy" Stanwyck, McCrea and Preston -- you'll even forgive its somewhat more than occasional moments of silliness.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Muzzlehatch VINE VOICE on March 19, 2010
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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