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The Big Trail (1930)

Breck Coleman leads hundreds of settlers in covered wagons from the Mississippi River to their destiny out West.

Directors:

Raoul Walsh, Louis R. Loeffler (uncredited)

Writer:

Hal G. Evarts (story)
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1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
John Wayne ... Breck Coleman
Marguerite Churchill ... Ruth Cameron
El Brendel ... Gus
Tully Marshall ... Zeke
Tyrone Power Sr. ... Red Flack (as Tyrone Power)
David Rollins ... Dave Cameron
Frederick Burton ... Pa Bascom
Ian Keith ... Bill Thorpe
Charles Stevens ... Lopez
Louise Carver ... Gus's mother-in-law
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Storyline

Breck leads a wagon train of pioneers through Indian attack, storms, deserts, swollen rivers, down cliffs and so on while looking for the murder of a trapper and falling in love with Ruth. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Most Important Picture Ever Produced See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 November 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Raoul Walsh's The Big Trail See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Fox Film Corporation See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (FMC Library Print) | (TCM print) | (35 mm)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Reportedly this film debuted at a running time of 158 minutes. However, this is unconfirmed. See more »

Goofs

(at around 10 mins) Breck Coleman leans his rifle against the water pump, then leaves it there and goes into the house. Not something a 'real' frontiersman would do. See more »

Quotes

Caption: Dedicated to the men and women who planted civilization in the wilderness and courage in the blood of their children.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: DEDICATED- To the men and women who planted civilization in the wilderness and courage in the blood of their children.

Gathered from the north, the south, and the east, they assemble on the bank of the Mississippi for the conquest of the west. See more »

Alternate Versions

Filmed in two versions simultaneously: widescreen process Grandeur in 70mm, and in standard 35mm. Some scenes were shot simultaneously in both formats; other scenes were shot twice, once for each format. The two versions are not identical in content - the 70mm version runs 125 minutes, while the 35mm version runs a shorter 108 minutes (but does contain some scenes not found in the longer widescreen version). See more »

Connections

Featured in 100 Years of the Hollywood Western (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

Song of the Big Trail
(1930) (uncredited)
Music by James F. Hanley
Lyrics by Joseph McCarthy
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A sort of missing or generally unacknowledged masterpiece...
19 April 2008 | by wlwelchSee all my reviews

What some mistake for stilted dialog and/or dismiss as archetypal characterizations accurately represents how people talked, lived and were before World War II, let alone in whatever years "The Big Trail" represent on film.

The movie took my breath away the first time I saw it years ago. Reading the boards here helped me understand why it missed at the box office and why movie goers got the benefit of Wayne in B Westerns for another ten years. Wayne was in my opinion better in "The Big Trail" and the years of Bs than most of his star turns after 1939 with Ford's incredible cavalry trilogy, "True Grit" and "The Shootist" being Big time exceptions.

What a shame theaters missed the boat on this in 1930. Had this movie hit we might have enjoyed more movies with more realism and less hokum. In my opinion this is not only one of the finest westerns ever filmed with accurate dialog and accurate character realization, but among the finest representations of a passage of any kind ever put on film.

It still takes my breath away. Especially the dialog and accurate characterizations of types that simply don't exist any more. Some celebrate the surface homogenization of our culture that in fact hides the largest cultural degradation (into 'people like us' and 'people like them') and political divide (corporatists vs Main Streetists) in US history, but for me "The Big Trail" represents a time when our surface differences were more obvious but underneath them most folks wanted to work out the nation's failures and most folks aspired to build a great culture and a great nation.

"The Big Trail" is an epic of the melting pot in motion toward the American Dream. Certainly the finest film on that path I ever saw. that subject ever filmed.


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