7.2/10
3,107
61 user 42 critic

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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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 »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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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

Whilst filming this movie, seven people actually died. Most of the things you saw - the rain, or the wagon falling was not planned, so that is when the incidents happen. 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: The last outpost, the turning back place for the weak; the starting place for the strong.
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 The John Wayne Anthology (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

When It's Harvest Time in Peaceful Valley
(1930) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Robert Martin and Raymond McKee
See more »

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User Reviews

How the West was Won
6 April 2004 | by jacksflicksSee all my reviews

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".


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