In this sweeping pioneer adventure, a courageous young scout (WAYNE) leads hundreds of settlers across treacherous cliffs, though brutal snowstorms, Indian attacks and buffalo stampedes to their destiny out West. Along th... more »e way, he loses his heart to a beautiful pioneer woman (MARGUERITE CHURCHILL) and never stops trying to win her love. TYRONE POWER co-stars in this visually spectacular epic.« less
STUNNING 1930 70MM WIDESCREEN EPIC TRANSFORMS 22 YEAR OLD DU
Robin Simmons | Palm Springs area, CA United States | 02/28/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Finally a DVD transfer of the "Holy Grail" of early widescreen epics.
This 1930 film directed by Raoul Walsh was intended to make 22 year old Duke Morrison a star.
And indeed it did.
While John Wayne became a star, this striking ahead-of-its-time 70mm widescreen film was dismissed, forgotten and virtually lost. In the 1980s it was rediscovered and restored but previous DVD releases were only the alternate 4x3 format since most theaters at that time (early 30s) were unable to show a widescreen format properly. And most TVs were "square" as well.
Fox publicity says it accurately and simply: "In this sweeping pioneer adventure, a courageous young scout (Wayne) leads hundreds of settlers across treacherous cliffs, through brutal snowstorms, Indian attacks and buffalo stampedes to their destiny out West. Along the way, he loses his heart to a beautiful pioneer woman (Marguerite Churchill) and never stops trying to win her love. Tyrone Power co-stars in this visually spectacular epic."
Digitally restored and re-mastered from the original 70mm elements, an alternative full-frame edit is also included in the DVD package.
Extensive extras include:
* Wonderfully detailed commentary with film historian/author Richard Schickel on the 70mm widescreen presentation * The Creation of John Wayne * Raoul Walsh: A Man in His Time * The Big Vision: The Grandeur Process * The Making of The Big Trail * Galleries * Publicity *Original Posters *Pressbook Gallery * Trailers
Not bad at all. It took a while, but Fox is treating this film like it deserves!
This film has been shown on TCM in its true aspect ratio. Every time I see it when channel surfing, I get sidetracked and stick around. The BW cinematography is beautiful and the story is engaging.
On a lot of levels, it was way ahead of its time in scope and ambition and visual sweep. It is certainly worth seeing not just as an anomaly of early filmmaking but for the pure entertainment value. Duke Morrison's performance is confident and charismatic and it is fun to see him become "John Wayne" in front of your eyes.
Where is the "Fox Grandeur" Widescreen Version?
Terry Knapp | Santa Rosa, CA United States | 05/04/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Years Ahead Of Its Time: An Iconic Epic That Expounds "Manif
Dr. Karl O. Edwards | Helena, Montana | 08/09/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This review is for "The Big Trail" (Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition) PLEASE NOTE THAT ONCE AGAIN AMAZON HAS LUMPED REVIEWS FOR ALL VERSIONS OF "THE BIG TRAIL," THUS DENIGRATING THIS DVD VERSION!!!
I am baffled as to why reviewers have given the restored 70mm (wide screen) version of "The Big Trail" anything but five stars. As other reviews have indicated, the film was made on the cusp of "talkie" movies and the innovation of William Fox's 70mm The Grandeur Process that would eventually lead to modern day wide screen format films in 1953--twenty-three years after "The Big Trail." As such, viewers need to keep in mind that the script, filming, and editing were all based, in various degrees, upon the silent film format of filming. Furthermore, this is not really what I would call a "western" by today's standards, although it clearly is the template for the genre. Nor is is it an action or drama film. Rather, "The Big Trail" is a silent movie "lag" that has seldom been repeated in movies with sound: it is, what I prefer to call (I have no idea if there really is such), an EPIC genre film. The "frontier," the "trail" and the "story" are the movie; not the characters, the plots, or the themes. The history of the film is, as discussed by others, a sad one; but hopefully this new release (2008) of "The Big Trail" will vindicate its greatness.
WARNING: If you like "traditional" westerns, lots of action, drama, or other modern aspects of the western genre, "The Big Trail" will most likely not appeal to you. "The Big Trail" was made before CGI, wide spread use of models and stage sets, and standardized props and costumes. Instead, Walsh went for "realism." And he had the advantage of having both worked as a "cowboy" on cattle drives and spending time with well known American Indian leaders. I cannot state for certain, but I believe that Raul Walsh wanted to re-establish a base line for how westerns should be made. "The Big Trail" was definitely a good start; unfortunately the economy and the times were not ready. Even more unfortunate, when Hollywood did restart the western genre, they took Raul Walsh's ideas and bent them in the "wrong" direction. As such, then, you may want to stick with your favorites or check out "newer versions" of "The Big Trail," such as "How The West Was Won."
As I stated above, I feel that "The Big Trail" is the template that started the western genre of movies with sound. In deed, I would argue, that while I label it an "Epic" genre film, it is the mother of the western genre, and one of the finest "westerns" ever made. The fact that it has not been available in its filmed format until now is most likely why so few--if any other--link subsequent westerns to this film. Most notable of these "innovations" is the use of western settings as an integral component of westerns. "The Big Trail" majestically displays the beauty and splendor of the west, as Raul Walsh filmed in at least two locations each in Arizona, Montana, and Utah; three locations in Wyoming; five locations (including Sequoia National Park for the conclusion) in California; and one or more sites in Oregon. (Many of the scenes include vistas of over five National Parks). The entire film was shot on location and on a budget of approximately $2 million dollars! Many of the locations seen in "The Big Trail" are not even there today.
Unlike many subsequent movies and television shows about "settlers" going west, "The Big Trail" actually depicts many (rather than none, one or two) of the true hardships endured in their journeys. The film shows people dying of thirst and other environmental hazards; and while not overtly stated, portrays the fact that more people died from the "elements" than from the one "Indian" attack (which have become the center piece of newer westerns). Walsh shows babies--human and animals--being born; couples getting married; spouses and children dying; the elderly dying; and many other aspects of life on the trail--including internal strife. Many of these aspects became templates for future films; others were never--to my knowledge--shown again. For example, it shows the wagons actually being lowered by ropes over cliffs! "The Big Trail" also establishes the types of characters that became central to the western genre--in particular, the rugged individualistic loner; the tough guy. Conversely, I don't think another western has come close to capturing the nature of Tyrone Power Sr.'s character, Red Flack, in costume or portrayal of the "grungy bad guy." And one cannot ignore the fact that it was Raul Walsh who dared to take an unknown "actor" named Duke Morrison, change his name to John Wayne, and cast him as the lead. That 23 year old Wayne doesn't seem polished to many should be no surprise; rather that Wayne does so well is a true harbinger of his future in films. Add to this the fact that many of Wayne's lines were not written (by request of Walsh) but rather elicited by the other character's lines--often impromptu as well--and I find Wayne's performance to be one of his finest! But I know that it will still take many years before Wayne's critics wake up and recognize that he really was a great actor as well as a great presence on the screen--his personal opinions aside.
Another phenomenal aspect of this movie, which has not really been touched on, is that there were actually four casts--American, German, Spanish and Italian stars--and the film was shot in both 70mm and 35mm (full screen at the time). That means that Walsh had to shot each scene at least four times with two different types of cameras--more cameras if he wanted extra footage. This in itself is amazing, especially given that there were: 1) nearly a thousand Native American actors and extras--including Charles Stevens, a grandson of Geronimo, and Nino Cochise (uncredited), a grandson of Cochise (both Cochise and Geronimo are legendary Chiricahua Apache leaders); 2) over 2000 extras; and 3) over 1500 animals (horses, cattle, oxen, pigs, mules, etc.).
In deed, I would (as a non-trained film critic) not be surprised to see "The Big Trail" compared to, and eventually seen as superior to, many of the movie classics. For those who have seen previous releases or the film on television, please rent or buy this version to enjoy the real version of "The Big Trail"--I have both. The quality of this DVD, especially given the age and processing that it had to go through is superior to many "new" movies. The bonus material is informative, although the the commentator, film historian/author Richard Schickel, is often biased in his comments and his commentary does have inaccurate information (e.g., Moisie is not in Utah, but Montana; and the buffalo scene was filmed there on the Flathead Indian Reservation because the herd was the only sizable herd left in 1930).
Please Note: If this review was not helpful to you, I would appreciate learning the reason(s) so I can improve my reviews. My goal is to provide help to potential buyers, not get into any arguments. So, if you only disagree with my opinion, could you please say so in the comments and not indicate that the review was not helpful. Thanks."
The NEW (2008) widescreen edition is finally here!!!
Richardson | Sunny California USA | 05/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an epic movie for so many reasons....not the least of which is that it is the first major starring vehicle for John Wayne and he is very good and startlingly young and handsome to boot. Legendary director Raoul Walsh made an asbsolute spectacular film and THIS edition is the first release of the 70mm WIDESCREEN version!!! I won't go into the story or the history...there are very servicable featurettes on the DISC that give great detail and help the enjoyment of the picture. The second disc contains the lesser 1:33 version. The restoration is pretty darned good for a 1930 movie and I couldn't be MORE pleased to finally have this "important" movie in this format and aspect ratio!"
Please, Fox, give us your best!
Robert B. Cushman | Cedar Crest, NM United States | 09/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
""The Big Trail" and "The Quiet Man" are clearly the two best of John Wayne's films. Fox has relegated "The Big Trail" to the trash heap . . . considering "old" to be worthless. Should the folks at Fox figure out the "pure gold" that they have, they would put this classic on DVD in its entire original format, with the ENTIRE CLOSING MUSIC, without dropping a single frame of the original. I, for one, would purchase a few of a complete DVD, should Fox "figure it out" and step up to their responsibilities. Fox, that film is not improving with age. It's time you get busy and save this masterpiece before it's too late. If you wish, you could even add a second DVD as a bonus (at extra price) giving a history of the making of the movie . . . whatever. Thousands of us will pay the price. You have a diamond in your hands, and are treating it like a "rhinestone"."