Hugely entertaining, beautiful cinematography, wonderful cast (sans Reynolds). It's the definitive epic western. You must make a pilgrimage to see it at a Cinerama theater like I did to see it properly.
I was most interested when the directors tried to emphasize the strange fish-eye distortion rather than hide it. Like the tracking shots in the introduction and Ford running horses and soldiers left to right in closeup. Unfortunately, a lot of it is staged as simply as films from the 1910s.
Watched the restored version showed on BBC and it looks better than any pre-21st century film I have ever seen, it terms of cleanliness, polish. It's a bit of a mess, and doesn't all go together that well, the ending seems to belong in a another film for example, but certain parts are fantastic. Ford's segment is good, and at times makes good use of the three cameras, but it's too short for me to get emotionally...
Sometimes kitsch/archaic for 1962 (predictable, hollywoodian, not very clear story and theatrical, overplayed acting), sometimes offering nice scenes (beautiful landscape, some nice framing and a few impressive action scenes), I have the impression this film was especially made around Cinerama (I saw it on a flat screen with the Cinerama format, a curiosity in itself).
Only one way to see "How The West Was Won" and thats in 3-strip Cinerama ! Just had the opportunity to see it, at the recent "Bradford International Film Festival's Widescreen Week-end".An excellent print,with terrific sound.You should have felt the auditorium shake during the river rapids and buffalo stampede sequences.The viewing experience,turns a good film,into a great film.