The Big Trail


Action / Adventure / Romance / Western

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 100%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 69%
IMDb Rating 7.2 10 3206

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Uploaded By: OTTO
December 21, 2013 at 09:21 AM



John Wayne as Breck Coleman
Ward Bond as Sid Bascom
Iron Eyes Cody as Indian
871.45 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 5 min
P/S 4 / 10

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Brandin Lindsey 6 / 10

Blazing Trails, Hardy Settlers, Nasty Villains

The Big Trail is a 1930 western film starring John Wayne. The story follows Breck Coleman, a tracker and guide played by Wayne, who leads a large group of settlers traveling westward. Coleman and the settlers face many obstacles along the way, including harsh desert environments, hostile natives, and unsavory criminals. As the plot progresses, Breck meets and falls in love with a young woman in the caravan.

One of the most interesting things about this film is the early and very young portrayal of John Wayne. Wayne plays his typical cowboy-hero role, but he is practically a kid in this film. The casting is done well as the villain is truly a gross and unlikable character, and everyone else fits their roles nicely.

The Big Trail, unfortunately, gets stalled by some corny and obnoxious attempts at humor. There is an annoying comedic-relief character with an accent that will make you cringe. Not to mention he manages to squeeze a dozen or so mother-in-law jokes into the film without a single one being funny, because its always the same joke: your mother-in-law is as whatever as a whatever. To add to the poor humor, there are scenes of poor, over-the-top acting performances from a few of the characters. The movie is simply generic, with nothing unexpected in the story and nothing exciting about the characters.

Overall, I would skip The Big Trail. Unless, of course, you're a big enough fan of John Wayne. Otherwise, you'll walk away bored.

Reviewed by Bill Slocum 5 / 10

Duke Not Ready For Prime Time

{This review is for the 108-minute version.}

For all its flaws in pacing and acting, "The Big Trail" certainly breathes frontier authenticity. It looks like it was painted by Frederic Remington and edited by Paul Bunyan.

The film's legacy stands on two impressive foundations. One is that it was shot on an epic scale, using a precursor for Cinemascope called "Grandeur" employing 70-millimeter film instead of 35mm. The other is the first starring role for that icon of American film, John Wayne.

Wayne is Breck Coleman, a wandering trapper who takes on the job of scouting for a wagon train on a 2,500-mile trek to the Pacific Northwest. He doesn't think much for their chances, but discovers he has a score to settle with wagon boss Red Flack (Tyrone Power, Sr.) He also discovers something else worth hanging around for, a southern beauty named Ruth (Marguerite Churchill) who won't give him the time of day.

Wayne has the right manner in this one ("I got to kill me a pair of skunks"), but comes across as too callow. Two of his most memorable acting qualities, his reactive skill and his humor, are missing here. He has his moments, but plays pretty stiff in the main, undoubtedly hampered by the fact sound had just arrived and "The Big Trail" was shot outdoors.

The film's majesty is entirely visual. This is true even for the shorter, 35mm version I saw, shot by Lucien Andriot. Every frame is filled with action and depth, even when there is some explanatory dialogue being attended to in the foreground. Apparently the 70mm version shot by Arthur Edeson and viewable on YouTube is heavenly.

I haven't gotten around to seeing the Edeson cut, which takes me to the main problem with the film. It moves so slow for 108 minutes, I can't really get enough interest in seeing 15 more minutes of it, however beautiful.

The film moves about as fast as a Conestoga wagon, with various intervals meant to dramatize the settlers' plight. There is a storm, a river crossing, a cliff traversal, a desert, and a Cheyenne attack, each of which comprise a few chaotic minutes followed by a portentous title card, like: "Prairie Schooners rolling west. Praying for peace - but ready for battle."

Director Raoul Walsh was clearly a pioneer in his own way, with a marvelous sense of detail he invests into every shot. I just wish he had gotten rid of the comic relief of El Brendel's Swedish character, Gus, which has nothing to do with the rest of the film. It's bad enough he can't really move the camera in when his stars are at the center, though Wayne doesn't seem quite ready for his close-up.

Even the action gets short-changed. The big Indian attack on the train gets no build up and is over quickly, without any sense of what it was about. Likewise, Breck's big showdown with Red is ludicrously set up and over too fast.

All in all, this is a fascinating film if just for how it paints its pictures, not the story it tells.

Reviewed by Edgar Allan Pooh 8 / 10

"It looks like crows (sic) and Cheyennes, Zeke . . . "

. . . reads the closed-captioning for the key scene of Fox's THE BIG TRAIL, no doubt typed by an unpaid Millennial Summer Intern who assumed "crows" referred to the vulture-like birds you see picking at carrion along Today's American Highways, rather than being an Indian Nation in their own right allied with the Cheyenne. The ensuing scene reflects something that NEVER happened in Real Life, as John Wayne orders his wagon train to circle its Conestogas until their canvas covers are close enough to touch. Subsequently, the apparently clueless allied Warriors make two head-on assaults against this makeshift rounded fort within a couple of minutes, and then retreat for good. In actuality, if some Eastern Tenderfoot such as Marion Mitchell Morrison (or Wayne) put several hundred men, women, and children in such a ludicrous "defensive" position, the Guerilla Fights of the Plains would have shot a few flaming arrows from any covered position (or simply started a blaze in the brush upwind of this fire trap) and then waited until the wagons were reduced to embers before killing off the survivors of the conflagration, if any. Compared to Wayne's "Breck Coleman" here, Gen. Custer was a military genius.

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