Big Trail

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Not Leterbox !!!

by Doug on 11/28/2003

This movie is one of Wayne's first and best. The sets are amazing, and could not be replicated today. the story set the standard for John Wayne movies. In all it is a must see for anyone who loves a great Wayne performance, and especially for a western movie fan! Having said that, it's a crime that this movie is unavailable in a Letterbox format. You really miss 1/3 of the film. Read More

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Product Overview

In his first feature film, the duke is the leader of a wagon train headint west along the oregon trail.


Studio Foxvideo
SKU 40219603
UPC 024543075356
UPC 14 00024543075356
Format DVD
Release Date 5/11/2004
Rating NR
Editors Note
Note Pioneers heading for Oregon endure the hardships of weather, unfriendly strangers and internal strife in this sophisticated early sound film. Featuring John Wayne in his first starring role, this straightforward Western tale is now overshadowed by its place in history as an early example of Fox's widescreen Grandeur process, its naturalistic sound, and prototypical Wayne performance.
Los Angeles Times "...It's a splendid entertainment....The film's look and feel seem way ahead of its time..." 11/18/1985 p.C2
USA Today "...It comes off as one of the better early talkies..." 05/30/2003 p.14D
Sight and Sound "This is a wagon-train movie with Wayne's scout at the center....It's interesting to see his persona in this embryonic form....What's really compelling is the authenticity of the wagon train's journey." 08/01/2008 p.89
Raoul Walsh
John Wayne
Marguerite Churchill
Cast & Crew
El Brendel - Actor
John Wayne - Actor
Marguerite Churchill - Actor
Raoul Walsh - Director
Tully Marshall - Actor
Tyrone Power, Sr. - Actor
Ward Bond - Actor
Arthur Edeson - Cinematographer
Hal G. Evarts - Based On Story By
Jack Dennis - Editor
Lucien N. Andriot - Cinematographer
Marie Boyle, et. al. - Screenplay
R.H. Bassett, et. al. - Original Music By
Winfield R. Sheehan, et. al. - Producer
Technical Info
Original Release Date 1930
Catalog ID 2007535
UPC 00024543075356
Number of Discs 1
Running Time 108 minutes
Color B&W
Original Language English
Available Subtitles English, Spanish
Available Audio Tracks English [CC], English, Spanish Dubbed
Aspect Ratio
Standard  1.33:1 [4:3]
ReviewSource DVD Verdict
Review The most impressive aspect of The Big Trail is the sheer spectacle that it presents. It was shot entirely on location, at spots ranging from Yuma (where an impressive re-creation of the town of Independence, Missouri was built along the Colorado River), Sacramento, and Jackson Hole to the Grand Tetons, Sequoia National Park, and Moisie, Montana. These settings combined with some incredible shots of wagons being manhandled down steep cliffs, across treacherous rivers, and through snow-covered mountain passes impart a real feel for the hardships that must have been faced by the actual pioneers.
Reviewer Barrie Maxwell
ReviewRating 8
ReviewSource Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Review The film does a wonderful job in showing the impressively vast landscapes, the wagons fording rivers, the prairie schooners crossing the rough unsettled plains and climbing the steep cliffs in all kinds of weather, and the courage of the pioneers to take such a dangerous journey, more so than for its stilted narrative, unimaginative plot line, the stagy unnatural dialogue and its clumsy attempts at pioneer humor (a Swedish immigrant (El Brendel) has an ongoing battle with his mother-in-law and mule)...It should prove to be interesting mostly to Wayne fans as an early take on the youngish looking actor before he became a legend and for film buffs it offers a look at the early primitive methods of filmmaking in the talkie era.
Reviewer Dennis Schwartz
ReviewRating 7
ReviewSource Variety
Review A big screen effort [based on a story by Hal G. Evarts] and an elegantly directed job by Raoul Walsh. But the recurrence of the same things, interrupted now and then by a 'big scene', such as the river or cliff crossing, or El Brendel's dragged-in comedy with his mother-in-law, or the simple romance and the silly melodrama, commences to weary...This leaves the historical portion, the Oregon trail, as the single interesting part...Young John Wayne, wholly inexperienced, shows it, but also suggests he can be built up. He certainly has a great start as the lead role in a $2 million production...Marguerite Churchill is set much in the same key, with not a great deal to do. Hers is mostly a silent role through being continually in a scrap with her sweetheart (Wayne) and not speaking to him...The widescreen Grandeur [process] seems to dim the photography; leaves ensemble scenes indistinct, except for figure or form.
ReviewRating 7
ReviewSource Film Freak Central
Review The Big Trail is the kind of movie that comes wrapped in a big piece of butcher's paper with the word WESTERN stamped on it. It offers the barest structural skeleton of the genre, with pioneers fulfilling their Manifest Destiny over terrain both harsh and unforgiving, and it sticks with its forward march to Oregon with only minor narrative flourishes to distract from the standard-issue myth of America...The film devotes all of its visuals to showing the vast space of the nation being founded. Terrain is very big in The Big Trail, on the level of both story and image--part of its purpose is to cover as varied a series of surroundings as possible, both to impress on us the hardship of the settlers and the unthinking awe at the might of the land of the free. Somehow, the limited camera positions of early sound filmmaking only enhance this, requiring many wide shots that consequently swallow up the figures in land and surroundings. Director Raoul Walsh also has a keen eye for stunning vistas, ensuring that feeling of being in the sweet arms of America (even as it thins your ranks), adding up to an auto-pilot reverie that would be unthinkable just ten years later. I can't say that it makes for crackerjack storytelling, but as a throwback to a bygone era it's probably priceless, and worth seeing at least for specialist purposes.
Reviewer Travis Hoover
ReviewRating 8
DVD, Sensormatic, No Longer Produced
Product Attributes
Actor Wayne,John
Label Fox Home Entertainment
Music Format DVD
Video Format DVD
Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide ...remains one of the most impressive early talkies...
Michael E. Grost, Classic Film & Television Visually spectacular early sound Western...
The Motion Picture Guide Walsh's direction is superb as he captures the thrilling outdoor action in this epic...
Barrie Maxwell, DVD Verdict The most impressive aspect of The Big Trail is the sheer spectacle that it presents.
Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews ...does a wonderful job in showing the impressively vast landscapes...offers a look at the early primitive methods of filmmaking...

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Not Leterbox !!! by Doug on Nov 28, 2003