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The Big Trail

VHS Tape
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Difference between 1 and 2 disc versions Sept. 11 2010
The Big Trail (2-Disc Special Edition)
Fox // G // May 13, 2008

Review by Stuart Galbraith IV | posted May 4, 2008 |
Highly Recommended

A truly epic Western of staggering proportions, Raoul Walsh's The Big Trail (1930) is a fascinating work on many levels. Technically it was way ahead of its time; its impressive use of an early 70mm widescreen process predates Todd-AO by a quarter of a century. It also features John Wayne in his first starring role, a role that on one hand helped define his iconic screen persona but which also exiled him to the lowly world of $12,000 B-Westerns after its commercial failure. Produced for about $2 million (probably upwards of $300 million in today's money) The Big Trail is so massive in scale that it would be all but impossible to reproduce today without the aid of CGI. Best of all, the picture offers a uniquely authentic portrait of pioneer life on the trail westward, the Manifest Destiny vividly brought to life with at times the poetry of Frederick Remington's paintings.
Incredibly, five different versions of the film were shot simultaneously: one in the 70mm Grandeur process for exhibition in the biggest movie palaces, another in standard 35mm for general release, plus three foreign-language versions with (mostly) different casts, all shot in standard 35mm: in French, German, and Italian. Fox originally released The Big Trail to DVD in May 2003, but that disc consisted only of the 110-minute standard 35mm version. Fox's new 2-Disc Special Edition includes a 122-minute version of the Grandeur version (reportedly The Big Trail debuted at 158 minutes, but this is unconfirmed) in all its 16:9 enhanced widescreen glory along with some good extras on Disc 1, while Disc 2 includes the previously available 35mm version. The second disc is actually the exact same DVD from 2003.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A giant of a movie Sept. 7 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Put simply if you want a real idea of the old west and how people thought and acted on their way there in the early part of the 19th century this film is it.
Every part of it reeks of the real dirty grimy and difficult life pioneering was. The acting is great and young John Wayne fill the role well. (How this film didn't launch him big is beyond me. I think it is better than Stagecoach and thats saying a lot.)
If there was ever a big return for a small investment this movie is it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars fascinating Dec 27 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
To see one of John Wayne's first film done in wide screen black and white was a truly unique experience. For the time it had to be an exceptional effort and was well worth the price. The casting and acting are very good and its length was surprising. An excellent effort.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Big Rip Off! Dec 21 2003
The release of this film does not rate even a one. I cannot believe after waiting all these years for this film to be released in widescreen and on DVD. The studio releases a cut version that's been formated. WHAT THE HELL!! The only people who would really be interested in seeing this film are film buffs who only want to see there films unformated. Have the home video people not learned there lessons yet with the Willy Wonka incident. WE WANT WIDESCREEN NOW!! The public demands it. Stop wasting our time and yours.
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1.0 out of 5 stars I love this movie,WHERE ARE THE MISSING SENES?!? July 4 2006
I've watched this film for years on TCM. I'm watching it now from FOX via AMAZON. QUESTION: WHERE ARE THE MISSING SCENES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'm missing the scene where Coleman pits Flack and Lopez against themselves early in the wagon trail. Then, the desart comes BEFORE the last outpost instead of AFTER in the original and a lot cut out there. THEN before the winter mountains, a lot of film missing here. WHAT THE HECK DID I BUY?!? What a cropped out pile of junk!! [...]
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This is a film that really deserves to be seen in its widescreen glory. This is truly an epic film. However, I feel compelled to point out that the version that is available on this DVD is not, in fact, a "cropped" version of the film. The movie was actually filmed in three different versions. The first two, featuring the original cast, were the widescreen "Fox Grandeur" version and the version available here, shot in the Academy Standard ratio, which allowed the vast majority of cash-strapped theaters (they couldn't afford the special equipment for widescreen projection) to exhibit the film. The scenes in this version were blocked appropriately for a standard film of this era. The third version, shot concurrently, was a German edition using German actors in medium and close shots and footage of John Wayne and company in the long shots.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Big Trail : The edited version Sept. 6 2003
I don't know why Fox Video cut close to twenty minutes off this film for DVD. Most VCR prints of this movie run a 125min long. Plus it's only shown in full screen format. This was one of the first widescreen movies ever filmed. I'm surprised they didn't release it in it's widescreen format. Although with all this missing from the dvd the Big Trail is still a great movie to watch. This was John Wayne's first starring role as the lead character and he gives it his best. Wayne plays a scout leading settlers to there new homeland. On his Journey Wayne tries to win the heart of a young woman who wants nothing to do with him at first. But that changes when he goes on the search for the men that killed a friend of his. A great movie that deserved a better DVD. In the furture I would like to see The Big Trail in it's original widescreen format with restored footage. I heard that the film was up to 154min long. It would be great to get to see that cut of the movie if it still exsits.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
I have been familiar with The Big Trail for decades. It was shot in the old 4:3 format (or so I thought) and represented the typical John Wayne western kitsch of the time. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Roger Messenger
4.0 out of 5 stars You keep fighting - that's life!
The Big trail tells the epic story of a wagon train of pioneers and pilgrims going into the west to find a fertile valley in Oregon, and their trials and tribulations getting... Read more
Published on July 10 2003 by Yngvar Myrvold
2.0 out of 5 stars where's the rest of it?
Where's the widescreen version? And why, when it's officially listed as 125 minutes in the "flat" version is this DVD release 108 minutes?
Shame on Fox.
Published on June 20 2003 by John G. Harkness
4.0 out of 5 stars Proto-- Wayne!
This great Western bombed because of the stock market crash of '29. Movie theaters had spent their money converting to sound, and were unable to shell out the dough for 70mm... Read more
Published on June 9 2003 by the wizard of uz
3.0 out of 5 stars The Duke is now John wayne.
Yes it is a classic. Yes, there is a lot to recommend this movie. But hey, it was made nearly 70 years ago and watchability is a factor. Read more
Published on May 28 2003 by JediMack
2.0 out of 5 stars What a dissapointment.
This is one of the very first widescreen films ever made. To be forced to see it in pan and scan is a real drag. I already have it on VHS so this DVD is a major dissapointment. Read more
Published on May 27 2003
2.0 out of 5 stars Wrong Aspect Ratio
Contrary to other reviews, the widescreen version of this film is the one to have and I am stunned that 20th Century Fox didn't release it on DVD. Read more
Published on May 22 2003 by Steve Latshaw
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