Union Pacific


2h 16m 1939
Union Pacific

Brief Synopsis

A crooked politician tries to stop construction of the first intercontinental railroad.

Film Details

Genre
Thriller
Western
Release Date
May 5, 1939
Premiere Information
Omaha, Nebraska premiere: 27 Apr 1939
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Trouble Shooter by Ernest Haycox (Garden City, NY, 1937.)

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 16m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
14 reels

Synopsis

Bank president Asa M. Barrows stands to make a fortune if the Central Pacific Railroad reaches Ogden, Utah before the Union Pacific. Consequently, to prevent the Union Pacific from reaching Ogden first, Barrows hires gambler Sid Campeau to sabotage the railraod. Three years later, as the first engine, piloted by engineer Monahan, leaves Cheyenne, the Union Pacific hires trouble shooter Jeff Butler to keep order on the railroad. Jeff is faced with Indian raids and the corruption of the men by whiskey and gambling, all engineered by Campeau and his partner, Dick Allen. Dick and Jeff are old army pals who now find themselves fighting on opposite sides. They also find themselves in competition for the affection of post mistress Mollie Monahan, the engineer's daughter, who favors Jeff. When Campeau attempts to stir the men up over late wages, General Ulysses S. Grant coerces Barrows into lending money to the railroad. Barrows plans to recoup his loan by robbing the payroll train, and Campeau sends Dick to do the job. Dick steals the pay sack and rides off, followed quickly by Jeff. After hiding the sack in Mollie's mail car, Dick returns to retrieve it, only to find Jeff waiting. When Campeau and his thugs also appear, Mollie hastily accepts Dick's engagement ring in return for Jeff's safe passage, and insists that Dick give back the money. Jeff then leads his men to Campeau's saloon where, after extracting a confession from Campeau, they destroy the premises. Next, Jeff goes to the church to arrest Dick for the robbery, but arrives too late to stop the wedding. Mollie allows her new husband to escape and is fired by the railroad. The next morning, Dick appears to claim his reluctant bride, but his nuptial embrace is interrupted as the Indians attack and the train is derailed. Jeff, Mollie, and Dick, the only survivors, join forces to telegraph Cheyenne for help. As they fight for their lives, the troops race to rescue them, braving burning bridges to arrive in time. In the gunfire, Mollie is shot and Jeff allows Dick to escape. Before he leaves, Dick tells Jeff of Barrows' duplicity and promises to meet Mollie in Ogden. To reach Ogden in time, the railroad has to traverse a track built over snow, which collapses under the weight of the engine, killing Monahan. The engineer does not die in vain, however, for the Union Pacific thwarts Barrows and wins the race. As the last spike is driven, Dick is killed by Campeau, and thus, as all obstacles are removed from the union of the rails, so too are they removed from the union of Mollie and Jeff.

Cast

Barbara Stanwyck

Mollie Monahan

Joel Mccrea

Jeff Butler

Akim Tamiroff

Fiesta

Robert Preston

Dick Allen

Lynne Overman

Leach Overmile

Brian Donlevy

Sid Campeau

Anthony Quinn

Jack Cordray

Stanley Ridges

Casement

Henry Kolker

Asa M. Barrows

Francis Macdonald

General Dodge

Willard Robertson

Oake Ames

Harold Goodwin

Calvin

Evelyn Keyes

Mrs. Calvin

Richard Lane

Sam Reed

William Haade

Dusky Clayton

Regis Toomey

Paddy O'Rourke

Syd Saylor

Barker

J. M. Kerrigan

Monahan

Fuzzy Knight

Cookie

Harry Woods

Al Brett

Lon Chaney Jr.

Dollarhide

Joseph Crehan

General U. S. Grant

Julia Faye

Mame

Shelia Darcy

Rose

Hugh Macdonald

Gambler

Noble Johnson

Indian brave

Sonny Chorre

Indian brave

Iron Eyes Cody

Indian brave

James P. Spencer

Indian brave

Tony Urchel

Indian brave

Chief Thundercloud

Indian brave

Greg Whitespear

Indian brave

Mala

Indian brave

Joseph Sawyer

Shamus

May Beatty

Mrs. Hogan

Ruth Warren

Mrs. Cassidy

Mike Driscoll

Denny

Richard Robles

Indian chief

Bobbie La Salle

Fanny

Evelyn Luckey

Lulu

Calla Waltz

Maggie

William Pawley

Dinty

Robert Barrat

Duke Ring

Earl Askam

Bluett

John Marston

Dr. Durant

Byron Foulger

Andrew Whipple

Selmer Jackson

Jerome

Morgan Wallace

Senator Smith

Russell Hicks

Sargent

Ernie Adams

General Sheridan

William J. Worthington

Oliver Ames

Guy Usher

Mr. Mills

Gus Glassmire

Governor Safford

Stanley Andrews

Dr. Harkness

Paul Everton

Rev. Dr. Tadd

Jack Pennick

Harmonica player/card player

Margaret Roach

Violet

Beth Hartman

Belle

Si Jenks

Old prospector

Horace Murphy

Irishmen

Albert Taylor

Irishman

David Clyde

Irishman

Tim Mahoney

Irishman

John Power

Irishman

George Guhl

Irishman

Pat Hartigan

Irishman

Dave Thursby

Irishman

Walter Long

Irishman

James Flavin

Paddie

Emory Parnell

Foreman

Patrick Moriarity

Mike

Ed Lesaint

Father Ryan

Ed Schaefer

Irish Paddy

Jim Farley

Irish Paddy

Frank Mills

Irish Paddy

E. A. Laidlaw

Irish Paddy

Ed Brady

Irish Paddy

Michael Slade

Irish Paddy

Robert Stevenson

Irish Paddy

T. C. Jacks

Irish Paddy

Dick Rush

Irish Paddy

Douglas Gordon

Irish Paddy

Cy Ring

Surveyor

Mark Strong

Connors

Hal Craig

Cassidy

Nestor Paiva

C. P. Conductor

Paul Everton

Rev. Dr. Todd

Guy Usher

Governor Stanford

Wylie Grant

Savage

Albert Petit

Water color artist

Jack Richardson

Official

J. C. Fowler

Official

Alexander Leftwich

Official

Mitchell Ingraham

Official

Frances Rather

Official's daughter

George Anderson

Tunnel engineer

Joe Gilbert

Telegrapher

Lane Chandler

Conductor

Francis Sayles

Conductor

Stanhope Wheatcroft

Secretary

Genevieve Bell

Kate

Viola Louie

Lil

Ida May

Goldie

Inez Seabury

Shrimp

Doreen Pastor

Ruby

Jack Murphy

Terry/Fireman

Jim Pierce

Card player

Dick Alexander

Card player

Frank Yaconelli

Card player

Oscar G. Hendrian

Card player

Max Davidson

Card player

Ken Gibson

Card player

Victor De Linsky

Card player

Chuck Hamilton

Card player

Louis Natheaux

Card player

Elmo Lincoln

Card player

Allen Connor

Card player

Wilbur Mack

Bartender

Jack Clifford

Bartender

Frank Shannon Old Man

Willard Robertson

Oakes Ames

Captain E. H. Calvert

Major

George Regas

Indian

Monte Blue

Indian

Charles Stevens

Indian

Dick Botiller

Indian

Frank Lackteen

Indian

Edward Peil Sr.

Laborer

Lou Short

Laborer

John Merton

Laborer

Sam Mcdaniel

Black man

George Magrill

Surveyor

Jack Chapin

Fireman

Buddy Roosevelt

Fireman

Duke York

Engineer

Sam Ash

Engineer

Marty Faust

Engineer

Charles Mcavoy

Engineer

Gus Glassmire

Governor Stafford

James Mcnamara

Mr. Mills

Alphonse De Cruz

Sketch artist

Leon Holmes

Vendor

Russ Powell

Vendor

James Kelso

C. P. Engineer

Dick Gordon

Reporter

Peter Du Rey

Reporter

David Newell

Reporter

Eddie Featherstone

Reporter

Richard Denning

Reporter

Mary Mclaren

Official's wife

Jane Keckley

Official's wife

Steve Carruthers

Telegraph operator

John Harmon

One armed reporter

Archie Twitchell

Male secretary

Adrian Morris

Brakeman

Jack Kennedy

Sid D'albrook

Edwin Stanley

Edward Keane

J. W. Johnston

John G. Fee

John M. Sullivan

Nora Cecil

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Genre
Thriller
Western
Release Date
May 5, 1939
Premiere Information
Omaha, Nebraska premiere: 27 Apr 1939
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Trouble Shooter by Ernest Haycox (Garden City, NY, 1937.)

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 16m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
14 reels

Award Nominations

Best Special Effects

1940

Articles

Union Pacific


Seventy years ago, in 1939, Hollywood celebrated its anus mirabilis, one of the most amazing years in American film history. In addition to releasing such classics as Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, the studios also brought back the Western with a bang, after a decade dominated by flimsy, low-budget productions. Cecil B. DeMille had helped pave the way three years earlier with The Plainsman, but it was in 1939 that a significant number of hit oaters -- including Stagecoach, Destry Rides Again and DeMille's own Union Pacific -- brought the genre back in a big way. In keeping with the director's reputation for filmmaking on a lavish scale, his picture was the longest, most expensive and best-publicized Western of the lot.

Following the success of his historical pirate film The Buccaneer (1938), the director was torn between making his next film one about airplanes, ships or trains. He had settled on a film on the discovery of Hudson's Bay when he learned another studio was working on a similar project and dropped the idea. Then publisher Martin Quigley suggested a film about the building of the transcontinental railroad. Unable to decide whether to focus on the Union Pacific or Santa Fe line, DeMille flipped a coin, and the former won.

DeMille secured the cooperation of the Union Pacific Railroad, which gave the production access to records and plans from the railroad's construction. They also loaned them four locomotives used in the 1860s, 37 cars from the period and the crews to run them, while making miles of track in Utah available for shooting. In fact, Union Pacific required so many shots of trains running Paramount had to secure a railroad operating license from the Interstate Commerce Commission. Eventually, DeMille became the largest private owner of railroad equipment in the U.S.

The entire production was done on the lavish scale typical of DeMille (all that was lacking was color and Union Pacific would prove to be the director's last black and white film). Paramount rebuilt the town of Cheyenne, Wyoming, on the film's Utah location and engaged hundreds of Navajos for the various spectacular raids on the railroad. The driving of the golden spike joining East to West was staged in California's Canoga Park using the original spike, on loan from Sanford University.

DeMille directed for several weeks from a stretcher. Some sources attribute this to a collapse from exhaustion, though DeMille and other contemporary sources suggest that he had to have surgery shortly before production started and couldn't delay shooting. Either way, crewmembers had to carry him from set to set and a special platform was added to the camera boom so he could supervise crane shots.

The director originally wanted Jean Arthur, who had starred in The Plainsman, for the female lead. Studio publicity also named Irene Dunne as a potential star (alongside Joel McCrea and Fredric March). Instead, Barbara Stanwyck took on the role. She quickly proved herself to DeMille by insisting on doing her own stunts, always arriving on set early and fully prepared and never complaining about difficult location conditions. In his memoirs, he would answer the question most Hollywood directors dread, "Who is your favorite actress?" by writing, "...I have never worked with an actress who was more co-operative, less temperamental, and a better workman, to use my term of highest compliment, than Barbara Stanwyck....Barbara's name is the first that comes to mind, as one whom a director can always count on to do her work with all her heart".

DeMille was particularly fortunate in his supporting players. In only his fourth film, Robert Preston played the third leg of a romantic triangle with Stanwyck and McCrea. It was the role that put him over with audiences, paving the way for years as a reliable second lead at Paramount (before he achieved stardom on Broadway in The Music Man). When Charles Bickford refused the role of the villain, and J. Carroll Naish had a scheduling conflict, Brian Donlevy took it on with the suave menace that would make him one of the screen's most memorable bad guys. In addition, Lynne Overman, who took over a comic relief role originally given to Bob Burns and then Walter Brennan, played so well off Akim Tamiroff that DeMille had them put into his next film, Northwest Mounted Police (1940), for more of the same.

For one supporting player, however, Union Pacific marked a temporary parting of the ways with DeMille. Although Anthony Quinn was the director's son-in-law, there was no nepotism involved in his casting in a small role as a gambler. The actor was under contract at Paramount, and the role was one of many minor parts to which the actor, whose ethnicity made him difficult to cast at the time, found himself consigned. He didn't want to play the part, but with Union Pacific tying up so much production space on the lot, he couldn't afford to turn it down. But despite what he considered a thankless role, he still had to put up with charges of preferential treatment. When DeMille invited him to lunch one day, a gossip item reported the event as if the actor considered himself too good to eat with the rest of the cast. At that point, Quinn decided to leave Paramount as quickly as possible. He would not work with his father-in-law again until the actor took over the direction of DeMille's 1958 remake of The Buccaneer, by which point he had won two Oscars® and begun his climb to international stardom.

In recognition of the film's epic scale, Paramount gave Union Pacific what was advertised as "the biggest premiere in movie history." One of the period locomotives was attached to a modern train, which carried DeMille and the film's stars to Omaha, Nebraska, (with publicity stops along the way) for three days of parties and parades, including a mammoth costume ball. The premiere screening was launched by President Franklin Roosevelt pushing a special button in the White House. After that, DeMille and cast members continued the train ride for 15 days until they reached the East Coast.

With such a massive build-up, DeMille's epic touch and a top cast, Union Pacific was destined for box-office success. In fact, it was the top-grossing Western of its year, returning a handsome profit on its million-dollar cost and easily out-selling other contemporary Westerns that were held in higher critical esteem. Although it lost the only Oscar® for which it was nominated, Best Special Effects, it brought DeMille the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1975, it would be honored with a special Western Heritage Award recognizing great Westerns made before the award's 1961 inception.

Producer-Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Screenplay: Walter DeLeon, C. Gardner Sullivan, Jesse Lasky, Jr.
Based on the novel Trouble Shooters by Ernest Haycox
Cinematography: Victor Milner, Dewey Wrigley
Art Direction: Hans Dreier, Roland Anderson
Music: George Antheil, Sigmund Krumgold
Cast: Barbara Stanwyck (Mollie Monahan), Joel McCrea (Jeff Butler), Akim Tamiroff (Fiesta), Robert Preston (Dick Allen), Lynne Overman (Leach Overmile), Brian Donlevy (Sid Campeau), Robert Barrat (Duke Ring), Anthony Quinn (Jack Cordray), Stanley Ridges (Gen. Casement), Henry Kolker (Asa M. Barrows), Evelyn Keyes (Mrs. Calvin), Regis Toomey (Paddy O'Rourke), J.M. Kerrigan (Monahan), Fuzzy Knight (Cookie), Lon Chaney, Jr. (Dollarhide), Joseph Crehan (Gen. U.S. Grant), Byron Foulger (Andrew Whipple), Monte Blue (Indian), Ward Bond (Tracklayer), Richard Denning (Reporter), Will Geer (Foreman), Chief Thundercloud, Iron Eyes Cody (Indian Braves), Noble Johnson (Native American Shooting Piano), Elmo Lincoln (Card Player), Nestor Paiva (C.P. Conductor). BW-136m. Closed captioning.

by Frank Miller

SOURCES:
The Autobiography of Cecil B. DeMille by Cecil B. DeMille
Union Pacific

Union Pacific

Seventy years ago, in 1939, Hollywood celebrated its anus mirabilis, one of the most amazing years in American film history. In addition to releasing such classics as Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, the studios also brought back the Western with a bang, after a decade dominated by flimsy, low-budget productions. Cecil B. DeMille had helped pave the way three years earlier with The Plainsman, but it was in 1939 that a significant number of hit oaters -- including Stagecoach, Destry Rides Again and DeMille's own Union Pacific -- brought the genre back in a big way. In keeping with the director's reputation for filmmaking on a lavish scale, his picture was the longest, most expensive and best-publicized Western of the lot. Following the success of his historical pirate film The Buccaneer (1938), the director was torn between making his next film one about airplanes, ships or trains. He had settled on a film on the discovery of Hudson's Bay when he learned another studio was working on a similar project and dropped the idea. Then publisher Martin Quigley suggested a film about the building of the transcontinental railroad. Unable to decide whether to focus on the Union Pacific or Santa Fe line, DeMille flipped a coin, and the former won. DeMille secured the cooperation of the Union Pacific Railroad, which gave the production access to records and plans from the railroad's construction. They also loaned them four locomotives used in the 1860s, 37 cars from the period and the crews to run them, while making miles of track in Utah available for shooting. In fact, Union Pacific required so many shots of trains running Paramount had to secure a railroad operating license from the Interstate Commerce Commission. Eventually, DeMille became the largest private owner of railroad equipment in the U.S. The entire production was done on the lavish scale typical of DeMille (all that was lacking was color and Union Pacific would prove to be the director's last black and white film). Paramount rebuilt the town of Cheyenne, Wyoming, on the film's Utah location and engaged hundreds of Navajos for the various spectacular raids on the railroad. The driving of the golden spike joining East to West was staged in California's Canoga Park using the original spike, on loan from Sanford University. DeMille directed for several weeks from a stretcher. Some sources attribute this to a collapse from exhaustion, though DeMille and other contemporary sources suggest that he had to have surgery shortly before production started and couldn't delay shooting. Either way, crewmembers had to carry him from set to set and a special platform was added to the camera boom so he could supervise crane shots. The director originally wanted Jean Arthur, who had starred in The Plainsman, for the female lead. Studio publicity also named Irene Dunne as a potential star (alongside Joel McCrea and Fredric March). Instead, Barbara Stanwyck took on the role. She quickly proved herself to DeMille by insisting on doing her own stunts, always arriving on set early and fully prepared and never complaining about difficult location conditions. In his memoirs, he would answer the question most Hollywood directors dread, "Who is your favorite actress?" by writing, "...I have never worked with an actress who was more co-operative, less temperamental, and a better workman, to use my term of highest compliment, than Barbara Stanwyck....Barbara's name is the first that comes to mind, as one whom a director can always count on to do her work with all her heart". DeMille was particularly fortunate in his supporting players. In only his fourth film, Robert Preston played the third leg of a romantic triangle with Stanwyck and McCrea. It was the role that put him over with audiences, paving the way for years as a reliable second lead at Paramount (before he achieved stardom on Broadway in The Music Man). When Charles Bickford refused the role of the villain, and J. Carroll Naish had a scheduling conflict, Brian Donlevy took it on with the suave menace that would make him one of the screen's most memorable bad guys. In addition, Lynne Overman, who took over a comic relief role originally given to Bob Burns and then Walter Brennan, played so well off Akim Tamiroff that DeMille had them put into his next film, Northwest Mounted Police (1940), for more of the same. For one supporting player, however, Union Pacific marked a temporary parting of the ways with DeMille. Although Anthony Quinn was the director's son-in-law, there was no nepotism involved in his casting in a small role as a gambler. The actor was under contract at Paramount, and the role was one of many minor parts to which the actor, whose ethnicity made him difficult to cast at the time, found himself consigned. He didn't want to play the part, but with Union Pacific tying up so much production space on the lot, he couldn't afford to turn it down. But despite what he considered a thankless role, he still had to put up with charges of preferential treatment. When DeMille invited him to lunch one day, a gossip item reported the event as if the actor considered himself too good to eat with the rest of the cast. At that point, Quinn decided to leave Paramount as quickly as possible. He would not work with his father-in-law again until the actor took over the direction of DeMille's 1958 remake of The Buccaneer, by which point he had won two Oscars® and begun his climb to international stardom. In recognition of the film's epic scale, Paramount gave Union Pacific what was advertised as "the biggest premiere in movie history." One of the period locomotives was attached to a modern train, which carried DeMille and the film's stars to Omaha, Nebraska, (with publicity stops along the way) for three days of parties and parades, including a mammoth costume ball. The premiere screening was launched by President Franklin Roosevelt pushing a special button in the White House. After that, DeMille and cast members continued the train ride for 15 days until they reached the East Coast. With such a massive build-up, DeMille's epic touch and a top cast, Union Pacific was destined for box-office success. In fact, it was the top-grossing Western of its year, returning a handsome profit on its million-dollar cost and easily out-selling other contemporary Westerns that were held in higher critical esteem. Although it lost the only Oscar® for which it was nominated, Best Special Effects, it brought DeMille the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1975, it would be honored with a special Western Heritage Award recognizing great Westerns made before the award's 1961 inception. Producer-Director: Cecil B. DeMille Screenplay: Walter DeLeon, C. Gardner Sullivan, Jesse Lasky, Jr. Based on the novel Trouble Shooters by Ernest Haycox Cinematography: Victor Milner, Dewey Wrigley Art Direction: Hans Dreier, Roland Anderson Music: George Antheil, Sigmund Krumgold Cast: Barbara Stanwyck (Mollie Monahan), Joel McCrea (Jeff Butler), Akim Tamiroff (Fiesta), Robert Preston (Dick Allen), Lynne Overman (Leach Overmile), Brian Donlevy (Sid Campeau), Robert Barrat (Duke Ring), Anthony Quinn (Jack Cordray), Stanley Ridges (Gen. Casement), Henry Kolker (Asa M. Barrows), Evelyn Keyes (Mrs. Calvin), Regis Toomey (Paddy O'Rourke), J.M. Kerrigan (Monahan), Fuzzy Knight (Cookie), Lon Chaney, Jr. (Dollarhide), Joseph Crehan (Gen. U.S. Grant), Byron Foulger (Andrew Whipple), Monte Blue (Indian), Ward Bond (Tracklayer), Richard Denning (Reporter), Will Geer (Foreman), Chief Thundercloud, Iron Eyes Cody (Indian Braves), Noble Johnson (Native American Shooting Piano), Elmo Lincoln (Card Player), Nestor Paiva (C.P. Conductor). BW-136m. Closed captioning. by Frank Miller SOURCES: The Autobiography of Cecil B. DeMille by Cecil B. DeMille

Quotes

I don't believe I'll need bodyguards.
- Jeff Butler
You'll need 'em, alright.
- General Casement
You think we no good, eh?
- Fiesta
No, it's not that...
- Jeff Butler
We've had a lot of experience, Captain. We bodyguarded the last two troubleshooters right up to the very minute they was killed.
- Leach Overmile
That Jeff Butler doesn't have all his brains in his holster
- Monahan

Trivia

The world premiere in Omaha, Nebraska, was a three-day celebration which drew 250,000 people, doubling the population of the city and requiring the National Guard to help control order. The special train enroute from Hollywood to Omaha, carrying Cecil B. DeMille, and stars Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea, took three days and made stops along the way drawing large crowds. The film was shown in three theaters simultaneously; President Franklin D. Roosevelt was reported to have started the premiere proceedings by pressing a button in Washington, D.C. 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 thirty cities around the country.

According to a news item in the Hollywood Reporter, Cecil B. 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 gold 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 hired the use of many local pinto horses for the filming of the Indian attack on the train. During filming, local southern Utah cowboys were hired to round up the horses, which would typically scatter and sometimes stampede because of the noise and confusion of these scenes, with shooting, yelling, and yards of unfamiliar cloth on the horses along with kettles tied to their necks and tails.

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

Notes

April 1939 Hollywood Reporter news items reported that Union Pacific's world premiere in Omaha, Nebraska was a gala "three-day celebration" that drew crowds of over 250,000, instantly doubling the city's population and requiring the deployment of eight national guard troops to help local authorities maintain order. Large crowds were also said to have gathered at many stops along the train route from Hollywood to Omaha, as it was publicized that a special train carrying, among others, producer and director Cecil B. De Mille, and stars Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea, was making its way to Nebraska for the event. The film's premiere took place at three Omaha theaters simultaneously. A April 22, 1939 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was to officially start the premiere proceedings by pressing a button in Washington, D.C. that would open Omaha's civic auditorium. An advertisement in Hollywood Reporter claimed that Union Pacific's premiere, which was accompanied by parades, special radio broadcasts and a banquet, was the "biggest world premiere in motion picture history." The ad also notes that following the premiere, De Mille was joined by many of the film's stars aboard an antique train for the continuation of the fifteen-day, coast-to-coast promotional tour, which was scheduled to stop at thirty cities around the country.
       According to material contained in the Paramount Story Files at the AMPAS Library, a treatment dated May 31, 1938 was written by Frederick Hazlitt Brennan for actors Fredric March, Joel McCrea and Irene Dunne. Hollywood Reporter pre-release news items and early production charts indicate that actor Charles Bickford was originally cast in the role played by Brian Donlevy. According to Hollywood Reporter, when Bickford "stepped out of the part because he didn't like it," he was replaced by J. Carrol Naish, who could not appear in the film due to a scheduling conflict with his assignment on Paramount's Federal Offense. Although a Hollywood Reporter pre-production news item announced that actor Porter Hall had been signed for a feature role as the engineer, he did not appear in the released film. Modern sources indicate that De Mille's first choice for the female lead was Jean Arthur, and that Lynne Overman took over the role previously assigned to Bob Burns and Walter Brennan.
       According to a pre-release Hollywood Reporter news item, De Mille directed the film from a stretcher because he was recuperating from an operation he underwent months earlier. Studio records, however, report that De Mille was confined to a stretcher for two weeks following his collapse, which was said to have resulted from the strain of directing three units on the film simultaneously. A December 12, 1938 Hollywood Reporter news item notes that while a third unit was put to work under director James Hogan, second unit director Arthur Rosson was filming in Cache, Oklahoma. A 27 December Hollywood Reporter news item indicates that Rosson's second unit was dispatched to the Mojave Desert, California for location shooting.
       Other shooting locations noted in contemporary sources were Canoga Park, Stockton and Sonora, California and Cedar City and Iron Springs, Utah. Studio publicity material claims that one hundred Navajo Indians were used as extras in scenes filmed in Cedar City, and that a replica of the town of Cheyenne, Wyoming was built at the Iron Springs location, where approximately six miles of railroad tracks were laid for the production. According to an article in Life magazine on the making of the film, De Mille acquired more railroad cars than anyone outside the railroad industry had ever owned before. In order to legally operate its own private railroad, Paramount, according to publicity material, acquired a regulation railroad operating license, which was granted by the Interstate Commerce Commission. Technical advisor Lucius Beebe was a well-known columnist for New York Herald Tribune.
       Time magazine reported that De Mille shot a total of 205,000 feet of film for the picture, which contemporary sources indicate was a $1,000,000 production. Farciot Edouart, Gordon Jennings and Loren L. Ryder were nominated for an Academy Award for their Special Effects work on the film.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1939

Released in United States March 1976

Re-released in United States on Video March 28, 1995

Released in United States 1939

Released in United States March 1976 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The 48-Hour Cowboy Movie Marathon) March 18-31, 1976.)

Re-released in United States on Video March 28, 1995