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3.4 out of 5 stars
The Big Trail (Bilingual)
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on February 22, 2015
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on November 29, 2014
It is nice
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2013
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. I was under the impression that wide screen didn’t appear until 1953 (The Robe). This isn’t true. The Big Trail was shot in a somewhat new experiment format as well as separately in 4:3. This blu-ray edition provides both.

The cinematography in my opinion was and is (by today’s standards) incredible. The story and acting is somewhat hokey but fun. Overall, for almost any movie buff, it is an absolute must.

Roger Messenger
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on December 27, 2012
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2010
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 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 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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on May 3, 2004
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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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 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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on September 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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on July 10, 2003
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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