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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A giant of a movie
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...
Published on Sept. 7 2001 by Peter Ingemi

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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
The Big Trail (2-Disc Special Edition)
Fox // G // May 13, 2008

Review by Stuart Galbraith IV | posted May 4, 2008 |
A D V I C E
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...
Published on Sept. 11 2010 by Ford Fan


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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
This review is from: Big Trail [Import] (DVD)
The Big Trail (2-Disc Special Edition)
Fox // G // May 13, 2008

Review by Stuart Galbraith IV | posted May 4, 2008 |
A D V I C E
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
By 
Peter Ingemi (Worcester County, Massachusetts United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Big Trail, the (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
By 
Michael B. Neuman - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Big Trail [Import] (DVD)
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
By 
This review is from: The Big Trail (DVD)
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
By 
Curtis R. Franks (Arcadia, OH) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Big Trail (DVD)
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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3.0 out of 5 stars Where is the "Fox Grandeur" Widescreen Version?, May 4 2004
By 
Terry Knapp (Santa Rosa, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Big Trail (DVD)
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
This review is from: The Big Trail (DVD)
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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4.0 out of 5 stars You keep fighting - that's life!, July 10 2003
By 
Yngvar Myrvold (Tønsberg, Norway) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Big Trail (DVD)
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 there. The party encounter Indians, bad weather and hunger, while a couple of treacherous renegades are being hunted by a trapper (John Wayne) for murdering his friend in cold blood.
This seminal western proves two things: Director Raoul Walsh knew exactly where to put his camera, and - John Wayne was a STAR from the word GO. Incredibly, this film flopped and Wayne was relegated to run-of-the-mill cowboy movies for 9 years, until re-discovered by John Ford. Wayne's delivery and acting is flawless in the Big trail, he nearly puts the other actors to shame with his easy swagger and grace. He was also incredibly handsome, looking like a Californian surfer crossed with a Versace model in this. The hard-bitten look of his later westerns is not visible (well, he was 23!)

As for the rest: If you consider the mileage on the Big trail, it stands up very well. It's entertaining for a movie this old, and the easy humor is very attractive. There is a plot; you've seen it before, but probably in films made much later. In some ways, it follows in the steps of the Covered wagon, (1923). The scenes where the pioneers cross the river and the mountain plateau are excitingly edited; it looks like Walsh put his extras in real physical danger! There are also beautiful natural wonders and vistas in this movie, originally filmed in a 70mm process called Grandeur. (my disc was full-screen, I guess the widescreen version is lost).
The dialogue is sometimes memorable: A great line delivered by Wayne to rouse the spirits of the party stuck in my memory: "YOU KEEP FIGHTING -THAT'S LIFE! YOU STOP FIGHTING - THAT'S DEATH!" Old Abe Lincoln couldn't have said it better...
On the down side: The love story is not well developed, (Wayne's character would never have settled down with this girl!) and Tyrone Power sr. as Flack overacts to the nth degree. Ian Keith (mr. Thorpe) is a cardboard villain. The ending is a bit wet, but on the whole not too bad.
You can safely buy if you find the Fox budget DVD of the Big trail. The mono sound is good, the picture-quality reasonable. No extras here, but I didn't miss them. I've got my American history books.
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2.0 out of 5 stars where's the rest of it?, June 20 2003
By 
John G. Harkness "John Harkness, movie buff" (Toronto, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Big Trail (DVD)
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Proto-- Wayne!, June 9 2003
By 
the wizard of uz (Studio City, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Big Trail, the (VHS Tape)
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 conversion.
The majestic background played on "The Big Screen"-- as director Raul Walsh intended, only at Grauman's Chinese and the Roxy in New York. Everyone else saw a choppy 35mm version, cropped on both sides. Brilliant cinamotgraphy became a muddled mess, until it was restored in the 1990's.
The story is one of 'Manifest Destiny ' on the move, and of a heroine who has two men courting her. A slick, lying, backshooting gambler and the pure, outdoorsman scout--John Wayne. Will she choose the man who will cherish her or the one who will use her?
Wayne dresses in moccasins as if he escaped from 'The Last of The Mohicans', as he tells us that: "The Indian was my friend. They taught me all about the woods." So, while he carries a rifle for hunting, he doesn't even own a handgun! A knife is his only weapon for self-defense.
A third male lead completes the story; a brutish and powerfully built bear of a wagon trail leader, played by Tyrone Power Sr. (Yep, the star's father was an actor.)
Wayne signs up as the scout because he suspects Tyrone of murdering an old man for his wolf pelts (naturally the old man was Wayne's best friend) The gambler also comes along, to escape a hangman's noose--and sweet-talk the heroine with his lies. Joining forces with the grunting neanderthal wagon master against Wayne, they bide their time to ambush him, as Manifest Destiny leads hundreds of settlers through Comanche territory, floods and blizzards to The Promised Land.
It was Walsh rather than John Ford who discovered Wayne,who had only played bit parts in Ford movies previously. But who 'created' John Wayne out of Marion Morrison, after he emerged as a leading man in The Big Trail?
Among the film's delights is seeing a Proto-Wayne.
He's a protagonist with all the heroic Wayne trademarks fully formed but he's not quite "John Wayne " yet in his acting. It's good but it's not the stuff of myths , not distinct.
There is none of the Wayne walk. None of the Wayne gestures, invariably played BEFORE he said his 'punch lines', none of the cadence of "John Wayne" sentences that he broke up (as he made the gestures to deliver before the lines) so beloved of John Wayne impersonators.
In short, the most popular movie star of all time did not quite 'play himself.' He found a style of acting that held the camera's eye. He discovered the film version equivalent of the 19th century's "claptrap", which is not a venereal disease, but a theater term for getting the audience to clap and cheer at the end of a speech.
An American Original.
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The Big Trail
The Big Trail by Raoul Walsh (DVD - 2004)
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