Architect Gordon Wales finds fellow apartmenthouse resident Joan Marsh locked out and flirts with her. When she is murdered evidence points to him. He and Joan's roommate Noreen become ... See full summary »
Tom Brown shows up at Harvard, confident and a bit arrogant. He becomes a rival of Bob McAndrew, not only in football and rowing crew, but also for the affections of Mary Abbott, a ... See full summary »
Imprisoned for a murder he did not commit, John Brant escapes and ends up out west where, after giving the local lawmen the slip, he joins up with an outlaw gang. Brant finds out that '... See full summary »
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 <email@example.com>
John Wayne's first major movie role. Raoul Walsh was having trouble casting the movie when he saw Wayne taking furniture off a truck. Wayne worked for the studio in the prop department. See more »
(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 »
Thorpe, why don't you get back on the Penzy Belle
and make yourself scarce. If you're here when the boat pulls out, the boys will certainly lead your pony out from under ya.
See more »
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 »
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 »
Critics generally pan this flick, probably because of its crudeness, clichés and caricatures. The critics are wrong. What we are watching in "The Big Trail" is the closest to the history of the American west that we will ever see, outside the silent classics of William S. Hart.
Early movies could use or consult people WHO HAD BEEN THERE. Of course, USC quarterback John Wayne, or even Irish thespian Tyrone Power, Sr. (who tried farming and hated it) are exceptions, but there is a ring of authenticity with "The Big Trail" which you can't get second hand. And if those aren't real plains Indians by the hundreds, I'll eat my breech clout!
And the scenery! Unfortunately, cinematographers hadn't mastered filters, so the sky is always washed out, and dust and haze obscure the deep focus. But even these limitations paradoxically serve to provide a feel of endless horizons. And the locations are spectacular, especially the Indian village, which is so enormous that at first I thought half of it was backdrop. Then, there is the spectacular rope drop of animals and equipment down an escarpment that could have inspired Herzog's "Fizcarraldo".
Of course, the acting is hammy and dialog corny, but remember, The Big Trail is from 1930 and that early sound movies had yet to evolve fully from silent film technique, which called for pantomime, with its exaggerated facial expression and movement. Also bear in mind that the style of reading lines came directly from the theater stage from which lines, lacking voice amplification, were delivered as oratory to be heard in the back rows.
Robert Flaherty in his landmark documentary "Nanuk of the North" actually set up his scenes dramatically. He was by no means a fly on the wall. If Flaherty could have made a documentary about the epic journey of a pioneer wagon train through the great Western prairies, I doubt if he could have achieved much greater impact than "The Big Trail".
49 of 52 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this