The Big Trail (1930)


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Movie Info

The first "epic" western of the talkie era, The Big Trail is motivated by a hero's search for the murderer of his father. Twenty-three-year-old John Wayne, hitherto limited to bit parts, was thrust into the difficult leading role, a young mountaineer put in charge of a huge California-bound wagon train. Over the next several months, Wayne and his fellow pioneers face every imaginable hazard and disaster, from blistering desert heat to blinding snowstorms, negotiating steep cliffs, treacherous … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Western, Drama, Classics
Directed By: ,
Written By: Jack Peabody, Marie Boyle, Florence Postal, Fred Sersen
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 20, 2003
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment


as Breck Coleman

as Zeke, Coleman's side...

as Gus, comical Swede

as Dave Cameron

as Windy Bill

as Windy Bill

as Honey Girl

as Gussie's mother-in-l...

as Abigail

as Bill Gillis

as Sid Bascom

as Mrs. Riggs

as Mary Riggs

as Ohio Man's Son

as Boat Captain

as Mary Riggs

as Ohio Man

as Bill Thorpe
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Critic Reviews for The Big Trail

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (5)

Integrating the settlers' passionate mortal conflicts into the landscape, Walsh turns the theatrical limitations of early sound technique to an advantage, composing vast, static tableaux with the mighty breadth and noble pace of epic stanzas.

Full Review… | July 15, 2013
New Yorker
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 20, 2008
Top Critic

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 28, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

More historical than anything, but a must for Wayne fans.

February 17, 2008
Kansas City Kansan

Audience Reviews for The Big Trail

The film version i had on blu-ray contained both the regular 35mm print at 108 minutes and the "Fox Grandeur" version filmed at 70mm and running 122 minutes. The Fox Grandeur version is certainly the way to watch it in my opinion and really showcases the vast landscapes and wide-open space of the land. While the cinematography was impressive, the film's simple narrative, wooden acting on John Wayne's part and the scope was a little ambious for what we are given in the final product. The film apparently was a financial failure as it was filmed two times and dubbed in French and German as well as the native English and the costs were substancial. The film is essential viewing I would think for John Wayne films, and while he would work on B-westerns the next nearly decade it eventually got him to the fame he would gain one day and become the star of such greats as Stagecoach and countless other A-films to come.

Chris Browning
Chris Browning

Super Reviewer

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