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Director: Raoul Walsh     Starring: John Wayne Marguerite Churchill
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Big Trail DVD 1 of 1
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Learn more about Big Trail:

Format: DVD
Sku: 40219603
UPC: 024543075356
UPC 14: 00024543075356
Category Keywords: Adventure  Indians  On-The-Road  Romance  Vintage
Rating: NR
See more in Westerns
Epic Trailblazing Fun!
In his first feature film, the duke is the leader of a wagon train headint west along the oregon trail.

"...remains one of the most impressive early talkies...  Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide
"Visually spectacular early sound Western...  Michael E. Grost, Classic Film & Television
"Walsh's direction is superb as he captures the thrilling outdoor action in this epic...  The Motion Picture Guide
"The most impressive aspect of The Big Trail is the sheer spectacle that it presents.  Barrie Maxwell, DVD Verdict
"...does a wonderful job in showing the impressively vast landscapes...offers a look at the early primitive methods of filmmaking...  Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Editor's 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.


Video Features DVD, Sensormatic, No Longer Produced

Technical Info

Release Information
Video Mfg Name Studio: Foxvideo
Video Release Date Release Date: 5/11/2004
Video Play Time Running Time: 108 minutes
Video CategoryId Catalog ID: 2007535
Video UPC UPC: 00024543075356
Video Number of Discs Number of Discs: 1

Audio & Video
Video Original Language Original Language: English
Video Audio Spec Available Audio Tracks: English [CC], English, Spanish Dubbed
Video Subtitle Available Subtitles: English, Spanish

Aspect Ratio
Video Aspect Ratio Standard  1.33:1 [4:3]

Cast & Crew

Video Cast Info El Brendel
Video Cast Info John Wayne
Video Cast Info Marguerite Churchill
Video Cast Info Tully Marshall
Video Cast Info Tyrone Power, Sr.
Video Cast Info Ward Bond
Video Cast Info Raoul Walsh - Director
Video Cast Info Arthur Edeson - Cinematographer
Video Cast Info Hal G. Evarts - Based On Story By
Video Cast Info Jack Dennis - Editor
Video Cast Info Lucien N. Andriot - Cinematographer
Video Cast Info Marie Boyle, et. al. - Screenplay
Video Cast Info R.H. Bassett, et. al. - Original Music By
Video Cast Info Winfield R. Sheehan, et. al. - Producer

Professional Reviews

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

DVD Verdict 8 of 10
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. - Barrie Maxwell

Ozus' World Movie Reviews 7 of 10
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. - Dennis Schwartz

Variety 7 of 10
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.

Film Freak Central 8 of 10
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. - Travis Hoover

Product Attributes

Product attributeActor:   Wayne,John
Product attributeLabel:   Fox Home Entertainment
Product attributeMusic Format:   DVD
Product attributeVideo Format:   DVD
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