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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fox grandeur edition
the actual dvd graphics shown are of the 2 disc edition released last year.the dvd consists of 2 versions of the movie,the academy aspect ratio version and the original 70mm grandeur version which is 14mins longer and has a commentary track by richard shickel.It also has 4 featurettes ,making of(12:42),creation of john wayne(13:53),director raoul walsh(12:34) and the...
Published on 16 April 2009 by ciaran moore

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3.0 out of 5 stars Good Movie In It's Day
"The big trail" was John Wayne's first big starring role which was originally meant to have Gary Cooper in the role and it was directed by Raoul Walsh, who is probably best remembered for directing "White heat" with James Cagney. "The big trail" is dated today, especially the dialogue and the acting, but the cinematography is very well made for it's time and it's a shame...
Published on 13 Aug 2012 by Mrs. Marilyn A. Rice


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fox grandeur edition, 16 April 2009
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This review is from: Big Trail [DVD] [1930] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
the actual dvd graphics shown are of the 2 disc edition released last year.the dvd consists of 2 versions of the movie,the academy aspect ratio version and the original 70mm grandeur version which is 14mins longer and has a commentary track by richard shickel.It also has 4 featurettes ,making of(12:42),creation of john wayne(13:53),director raoul walsh(12:34) and the grandeur process(12:17).The grandeur one is probably the most interesting.The movie itself is surprisingly enjoyable and seeing such a young john wayne acting his socks off is great to behold.overall a very good package.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spectacle over Story., 3 Feb 2010
By 
Bob Salter "Captain Spindrift" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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"The Big Trail" has often been seen by film historians as a rather weak film, but that is a bit unfair. The film is more a victim of the time that it was made. The film came out during that awkward transitional period from talkies to sound. It should be remembered that "The Jazz Singer", generally considered to be the first talking picture, was only made three years before in 1927.Sound films were still trying to find their feet at this time. Sound quality was a bit sketchy and the acting was very exaggerated in the silent tradition. The film also used the popular and necessary device of captions to help the narrative flow of the story. The film flopped badly at the box office failing to recoup the huge costs it had incurred in filming. Much of the blame was laid at the door of the new young star John Wayne, which was very unfair. Wayne actually gives a refreshingly natural performance, eschewing the elocution lessons he had been given. As an inexperienced actor he actually acquits himself very well. He also shows competence in the saddle that not all stars could boast. The film was made in both conventional 35mm film and in a 70mm wide-screen presentation process known as Grandeur. Unfortunately many exhibitors were unwilling to spend the money required on equipment to play the grandeur process. They had already gone through the costs of equipping their theatres with the wiring for sound, and this was the depression after all! The films failure may well have owed more to this.

Viewed today, the film stands up rather well against those western epics "The Covered Wagon"(23) and "The Iron Horse"(24). Spectacle certainly takes precedent over the story. The film concerns an epic wagon train journey from the banks of the Missouri to Oregon, during that period of "Manifest destiny", when settlers began to flood west to colonise the wilderness. John Wayne plays a trapper/guide who joins a wagon train for ulterior motives, when he finds that the suspected murderers of a trapper friend are also making the trip. There is action aplenty on the trip which the director Raoul Walsh handles with an assured eye. There is a massive Indian attack where the warriors attack the encircled wagon train on their beautifully painted war ponies. There is also a very impressive buffalo hunt and a river crossing scene that has never been bettered. Then there is the impressive scene where wagons and livestock are lowered down vertiginous cliffs, which was copied in the later film "The Way West"(67), where Kirk Douglas came to a sticky end. The elements also conspire against the wagon train, and they are faced with a barrage of rainstorms and blizzards. Romance is also in the air between the strangely svelte, and youthful looking Wayne, and a pretty young pioneer girl played by Marguerite Churchill. Wayne also heads inexorably to a showdown with the villains who murdered his friend. There is a lovely final scene amongst the giant redwoods.

The film is perhaps most notable for providing the first leading role for screen legend John Wayne. The director Walsh was looking for an unknown to try and save costs. Gary Cooper had already turned the role down. Walsh had seen the prop boy on a set, and enquired about him with John Ford, the director who had first come across him. At this time he had only acted briefly in a few films. He was given a screen test, and the rest as they say is history. Sadly after this film Wayne's career took a jolt and he was cast back into poverty row and the B western salt mines. It was nearly a decade later when he announced his arrival with a whirling Winchester to mega stardom as "The Ringo Kid" in Ford's "Stagecoach"(39). The film is also noteworthy for being the only talking film of Tyrone Power snr, father of screen pretty boy Tyrone Power, as Red Flack the lurching villain of the film. Power gives a performance more akin to the nasty villain you like to hiss at at the village panto. A sort of western Long John Silver. This makes the performance of Wayne look even better. That stalwart of "The Covered Wagon", Tully Marshall also appears to good effect as a trapper friend of Wayne's. It was also interesting to see that great friend of John Wayne, Ward Bond appear in a small role. They had met as American footballers and had already appeared in a couple of minor films together. Together with John Ford they enjoyed a hard drinking friendship over many years.

It has taken me many years to finally get around to watch this film, and I was pleasantly surprised at the real quality that it contains. It is not a film I can recall having been shown on TV. The film easily fulfils its credentials as an epic, especially with the opening scenes of the myriad covered wagons starting off on the long trek. The story is laboured and predictable, and the acting undeniably stilted, but the action compensates for this easily. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and wondered why I have not taken the trouble to watch it before. I have watched the one disc edition, but it sounds like the restored two disc edition might be worth a shout. A deserved four stars.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "My time ain't arrived yet.", 24 Jun 2011
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Big Trail [DVD] [1930] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
NB: As is their wont, Amazon have unhelpfully bundled the reviews for different issues and formats of this title together. This review refers to the US NTSC two-disc DVD version, which includes both widescreen and fullscreen versions plus extras. The European PAL releases are all extras-free fullframe versions.

The Big Trail, an awkward young John Wayne's first shot at the big time, didn't do much for him in 1930, and it didn't do much for Fox's 70mm Grandeur widescreen system either, becoming the Heaven's Gate of its day. But seen today, Raoul Walsh's wagon train epic astonishes with its genuinely colossal spectacle: even in ordinary dialogue scenes there are hundreds of extras gratuitously placed in the background, often supplemented by a screen full of covered wagons and/or towns, riverboats or huge mountain ranges to show off the wide open spaces in the widest of screens. But Wayne would have to wait another nine years for the stagecoach to Lordsburg to make his name and widescreen would need another 30 years and the threat of television to take off. Too close to the hugely expensive changeover to sound to persuade exhibitors to expensively upgrade their theatres yet again and with the simultaneously shot `flat' version lacking the starpower to pull in big enough audiences, its failure sent Walsh and Wayne back down to the minor leagues.

It's still primitive in some ways, particularly the plotting and its villains, played by Tyrone Power's father and Geronimo's grandson. Power in particular is a sight to see - more like Bluto from the Popeye cartoons than his son, by all accounts not much acting was required or involved. Legend has it that Walsh even had him beaten up for trying to force himself on leading lady Marguerite Churchill. The plot is elementary, with the curly-haired young Duke diverted from tracking down the killer of a friend to scout for a wagon train lead by Power Sr's Bluto-like frontiersman, who chews the scenery to greatly enjoyable effect, but it still holds up as the best and most realistic of its sub-genre (shots from it were actually mistaken by some historians for ones of real pioneers!) and the widescreen version is visually stunning, whether filling the screen with prairie schooners crossing a river during a storm or briefly settling on its pioneers burying would-be settlers on the plains before moving on. It even anticipates Stagecoach in many ways, the Duke's Breck Coleman, like the Ringo Kid, along for the ride initially for revenge only to fall in love en route (though with a more `respectable' girl this time), Walsh cutting away from the final showdown after the first shot is fired just as Ford's film would nine years later (though the fullscreen version lingers longer). It certainly lacks the substance and rich characters of the classic Westerns that would follow, opting for broad archetypes in its clear aim to be nothing more than a spectacular celebration of the pioneer spirit along the lines of The Covered Wagon, but it does it well and surprisingly entertainingly. And you'll never see anything like it made again.

The original DVD issue was only of the shorter `flat' fullscreen version shot at the same time, but Fox finally made amends with an excellent US NTSC two-disc DVD set with both the 122-minute 2.10:1 widescreen 70mm version and the 108-minute fullscreen 35mm version, the latter losing a couple of scenes (Ian Keith's crooked gambler cheating gullible El Brendel's comic relief Swedish settler on the riverboat, Wayne talking about stolen wolfpelts with the villain's sidekick Charles Stevens) and using different camera angles for some scenes. There's a good selection of informative extras on the film, its star and director and the failed Grandeur system as well, though sadly no footage from the simultaneously filmed German, Spanish and Italian versions. You do still have to make some allowances when watching, however. The camera noise is clearly audible in many scenes - sometimes more audible than the dialogue, all awkwardly recorded live on location while, even in the correct ratio, the film's most truly breathtaking scene as the settlers lower wagons and horses down the side of a mountain (all done for real, remember) loses a lot on the small screen. Widescreen prints of the film do occasionally turn up at cinematheques and are well worth tracking down to see the film to its best effect, but in the meantime the two-disc set is the next best thing and is well worth seeking out.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A vast achievement, 5 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Big Trail [DVD] [1930] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
This widescreen Western was made just as synchronised sound came to the cinema. It truly does have epic scope and scale, only hinted at in the standard ratio prints commonly seen in the U.K. Allowances do have to be made for the conditions in which it was made, largely out of doors, generally in remote locations, and of course with early sound equipment, and acting styles and delivery often redolent of the stage. There is also a good deal of "period" colloquialism which is not always easy to pick up, but the print does carry subtitles, which I found invaluable.
All of these caveats become trivial against the visual splendour of the film itself, huge numbers of people, wagons and livestock, dwarfed by the vast and varied landscapes, photographed just before they became compromised by industrial "progress". The choice of camera set-ups and angles shows artistic taste and skill, the print quality is very good, distant details being crisp and clear, and the disc's extras give fascinating details about the enormous creative and physical resources which were devoted to this unique film. There is, I understand, no other feature extant made in this particular panoramic widescreen process, and it is difficult to imagine any other subject so well suited to show it off. For what it is worth, we also seen a youthful John Wayne in his first attempt at stardom, one which failed, not because of his performance, which is generally very good, but because of the physical difficulties in getting the film widely screened. This disc is accompanied by a standard ratio print, rather shorter, but visually better than the standard print generally available in the U.K. Perhaps I should also warn that the violence in the film is remarkably understated, and, an Indian attack on the wagon train apart, played down. This is a milestone in the history of the western, and a film which, once it gets into its stride, fills the viewer with awe; this widescreen print reveals how undeserved its relative obscurity is.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Big Trail, 23 July 2013
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This review is from: The Big Trail [DVD] [1930] (DVD)
This is a very good film because it was his first I advise anyone who likes John Wayne to get this for his / her collection the shootist being the last,
I would also recommend the seller very prompt .
Good service 10/10
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good Movie In It's Day, 13 Aug 2012
By 
Mrs. Marilyn A. Rice "RR" (sussex) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Big Trail [DVD] [1930] (DVD)
"The big trail" was John Wayne's first big starring role which was originally meant to have Gary Cooper in the role and it was directed by Raoul Walsh, who is probably best remembered for directing "White heat" with James Cagney. "The big trail" is dated today, especially the dialogue and the acting, but the cinematography is very well made for it's time and it's a shame the movie was a flop when it first came out back in 1930 and it took 9 more years for John Wayne to become a star, which he became well known in John Ford's classic "Stagecoach". Also when this film was made the silent era was pretty much over, but parts of the film is similiar to a silent movie, such as the boards telling us what has happened throughout the film. If your a fan of John Wayne like me, then it's well worth buying "The big trail" and look out for Tyrone Power's father Tyrone Power Snr who plays the villain.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The first time of John Wayne as main actor, 15 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Big Trail [DVD] [1930] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Wonderful dvd received in perfect time from a very kind seller. For very John Wayne fan a Raou Walsh cult movie, now in double version, grandeur and scan & pan.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 12 Aug 2014
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Mr. D. Barry "batbeak1" (Chesham) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Big Trail [DVD] [1930] (DVD)
This was really funny, the old codger miner 49er character... hilarious side kick compared to Walter Brennan...
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Old mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmovie, 12 July 2013
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This review is from: The Big Trail [DVD] [1930] (DVD)
Has a lifelong fan of the "DUKE"I have always wanted to se this epic.Not disappointed!!No fancy gimmick just a great movie
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 7 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Big Trail [DVD] [1930] (DVD)
excelent all round.
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