Union Pacific (film)

Union Pacific (film)

Infobox Film
name = Union Pacific

caption = film poster
imdb_id = 0032080
writer = Walter DeLeon
Jack Cunningham
C. Gardner Sullivan
starring = Barbara Stanwyck
Joel McCrea
Akim Tamiroff
director = Cecil B. DeMille
producer = Cecil B. DeMille
cinematography= Victor Milner
editing = Anne Bauchens
distributor = Paramount Pictures
released = 1939
runtime = 135 min.
language =
music =
awards =
budget =

"Union Pacific" is a 1939 film about the building of the railroad across the American West. The story is based upon the novel "Trouble Shooter", written by the prolific Western fiction author, Ernest Haycox.

Plot summary

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?


*Barbara Stanwyck as Mollie Monahan
*Joel McCrea as Captain Jeff Butler
*Akim Tamiroff as Fiesta
*Robert Preston as Dick Allen
*Lynne Overman as Leach Overmile
*Brian Donlevy as Sid Campeau
*Robert Barrat as Duke Ring (Campeau henchman)
*Anthony Quinn as Jack Cordray (Campeau henchman)
*Stanley Ridges as General Casement
*Henry Kolker as Asa M. Barrows (banker)
*Francis McDonald as General Grenville M. Dodge
*Willard Robertson as Oakes Ames
*Harold Goodwin as E.E. Calvin (telegrapher)
*Evelyn Keyes as Mrs. Calvin
*Richard Lane as Sam Reed


According to a news item in "The Hollywood Reporter", DeMille directed much of the film from a stretcher, because of an operation he had months earlier. However, studio records indicate DeMille collapsed from the strain of directing three units simultaneously, and used a stretcher for about two weeks.

The golden spike used at the ceremony to mark the end of the construction was the same spike actually used in the May 10, 1869 event, on loan from Stanford University.

For the Indian attack on the train, Paramount hired 100 Navajo Indian extras.

The company had rented many local Pinto horses for the filming of the Indian attack on the train. During filming, however, local cowboys had to be hired to round up the horses, as they would scatter and sometimes stampede because of the noise and confusion of these scenes--all the shooting, yelling, and yards of unfamiliar cloth on the horses, along with kettles and other implements tied to their manes and tails, made them extremely nervous and uncomfortable, and it didn't require much to make them bolt.

In order to operate the number of trains required by the production, Paramount had to get a regulation railroad operating license from the Interstate Commerce Commission.


This film is the official winner of the first ever Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, although this was awarded in retrospect at the 2002 festival. The festival was to debut in 1939, but was cancelled due to World War II. The organizers of the 2002 festival presented part of the original 1939 selection to a professional jury of six members. The films were: "Goodbye, Mr. Chips", "La piste du nord", "Lenin in 1918", "The Four Feathers", "The Wizard of Oz", "Union Pacific" and "Boefje".

World premiere

The world premiere in Omaha, Nebraska was a three-day celebration that drew 250,000 people, doubling the population of the city and requiring the National Guard to help keep order. A special train transported DeMille, Stanwyck, and McCrea from Hollywood to Omaha. The trip took three days and made stops along the way, drawing large crowds. The film was shown in three theaters simultaneously; President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was reported to have started the premiere proceedings by pressing a button in Washington, DC, which opened the civic auditorium. An ad stated that the premiere, which involved parades, radio broadcasts and a banquet, was the biggest in motion picture history. An antique train continued on a 15-day coast-to-coast promotional tour, stopping at 30 cities around the country.

External links

*imdb title | id=0032080 |title=Union Pacific

###@@@KEY@@@###succession box
title=Palme d'Or
after="Torment" (1946)

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