The Big Trail

The Big Trail is a 1930 American pre-Code early widescreen movie shot on location across the American West starring John Wayne in his first leading role and directed by Raoul Walsh.wikipedia
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John Wayne

the actorThe DukeBatjac Productions, Inc.
The Big Trail is a 1930 American pre-Code early widescreen movie shot on location across the American West starring John Wayne in his first leading role and directed by Raoul Walsh. Breck Coleman (John Wayne) is a young trapper who just got back to Missouri from his travels near Santa Fe, seeking to avenge the death of an old trapper friend who was killed the winter before along the Santa Fe Trail for his furs, by Red Flack (Tyrone Power, Sr.) and his minion Lopez (Charles Stevens).
His first leading role came in Raoul Walsh's Western The Big Trail (1930), an early widescreen film epic which was a box-office failure.

Raoul Walsh

Walsh
The Big Trail is a 1930 American pre-Code early widescreen movie shot on location across the American West starring John Wayne in his first leading role and directed by Raoul Walsh.
He was known for portraying John Wilkes Booth in the silent classic The Birth of a Nation (1915) and for directing such films as The Big Trail (1930), starring John Wayne, High Sierra (1941), starring Ida Lupino and Humphrey Bogart; and White Heat (1949), starring James Cagney and Edmond O'Brien.

National Film Registry

United States National Film RegistryList of films preserved in the United States National Film Registryculturally significant
In 2006, the United States Library of Congress deemed this film "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant", and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry, saying "the plot of a trek along the Oregon Trail is aided immensely by the majestic sweep provided by the experimental Grandeur wide-screen process used in filming".

Marguerite Churchill

Coleman finds love with young Ruth Cameron (Marguerite Churchill), whom he'd kissed accidentally, mistaking her for somebody else.
She is best known today as John Wayne's first leading lady, in The Big Trail (1930).

Ian Keith

Unwilling to accept her attraction toward him, Ruth gets rather close to a gambler acquaintance of Flack's, Thorpe (Ian Keith), who joined the trail after being caught gambling.
Keith had a major role as a gambler in director Raoul Walsh's 1930 widescreen western The Big Trail starring John Wayne.

Widescreen

wide screenwide-screenwidescreen format
The Big Trail is a 1930 American pre-Code early widescreen movie shot on location across the American West starring John Wayne in his first leading role and directed by Raoul Walsh.
Other films shot in widescreen were the musical Happy Days (1929) which premiered at the Roxy Theater, New York City, on February 13, 1930, starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell and a 12-year-old Betty Grable as a chorus girl; Song o’ My Heart, a musical feature starring Irish tenor John McCormack and directed by Frank Borzage (Seventh Heaven, A Farewell to Arms), which was shipped from the labs on March 17, 1930, but never released and may no longer survive, according to film historian Miles Kreuger (the 35mm version, however, debuted in New York on March 11, 1930); and the western The Big Trail (1930) starring John Wayne and Tyrone Power, Sr. which premiered at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on October 2, 1930, all of which were also made in the 70mm Fox Grandeur process.

Ward Bond

Ward Bond as Sid Bascom (uncredited)
Among his other well-known films were Bringing Up Baby (1938), Gone with the Wind (1939), The Maltese Falcon (1941), Sergeant York (1941), Joan of Arc (1948), in which he was atypically cast as Captain La Hire, Rio Bravo (1959), and Raoul Walsh's 1930 widescreen wagon train epic The Big Trail, which also featured John Wayne's first leading role.

El Brendel

El Brendel as Gus, a comical Swede
After finishing production of Sunny Side Up with Janet Gaynor, Brendel was the star comedian in New Movietone Follies of 1930, The Big Trail with John Wayne, and the Gershwin musical Delicious with Gaynor, which introduced the song "New York Rhapsody" and featured Brendel's rendition of "Blah Blah Blah".

70 mm Grandeur film

Fox GrandeurGrandeur70 mm "Grandeur" film
In 2006, the United States Library of Congress deemed this film "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant", and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry, saying "the plot of a trek along the Oregon Trail is aided immensely by the majestic sweep provided by the experimental Grandeur wide-screen process used in filming".
Features shot in Grandeur include Fox Movietone Follies of 1929, the musical Happy Days (1929), directed by Benjamin Stoloff, Song o’ My Heart (1930), a musical feature starring Irish tenor John McCormack and directed by Frank Borzage (Seventh Heaven, A Farewell to Arms), and the Western The Big Trail (1930), directed by Raoul Walsh, in which John Wayne played his first starring role.

Tyrone Power Sr

Tyrone PowerTyrone Power Sr.
Breck Coleman (John Wayne) is a young trapper who just got back to Missouri from his travels near Santa Fe, seeking to avenge the death of an old trapper friend who was killed the winter before along the Santa Fe Trail for his furs, by Red Flack (Tyrone Power, Sr.) and his minion Lopez (Charles Stevens).
In 1930, Power had a great role as the villainous "bull whacker" Red Flack in Raoul Walsh's widescreen epic The Big Trail, which was Power's first (and only) talkie and provided an unknown John Wayne with his first starring role.

Charles Stevens (actor)

Charles Stevens
Breck Coleman (John Wayne) is a young trapper who just got back to Missouri from his travels near Santa Fe, seeking to avenge the death of an old trapper friend who was killed the winter before along the Santa Fe Trail for his furs, by Red Flack (Tyrone Power, Sr.) and his minion Lopez (Charles Stevens).

Iron Eyes Cody

Cody, Iron EyesIron Eyes" CodyThe Crying Indian
Iron Eyes Cody as Indian (uncredited)
He appeared in more than 200 films, including The Big Trail (1930), with John Wayne; The Scarlet Letter (1934), with Colleen Moore; Sitting Bull (1954), as Crazy Horse; The Light in the Forest (1958) as Cuyloga; The Great Sioux Massacre (1965), with Joseph Cotten; Nevada Smith (1966), with Steve McQueen; A Man Called Horse (1970), with Richard Harris; and Ernest Goes to Camp (1987) as Chief St. Cloud, with Jim Varney.

Russ Powell

Russell Powell
Russ Powell as Windy Bill (uncredited)
The Big Trail (1930) (uncredited)

Robert Parrish

Robert Parrish as Pioneer Boy (uncredited)
He then appeared in the classic Sunrise (1927); Yale vs. Harvard (1928), another Our Gang short; Mother Machree (1928) and Four Sons (1928) from John Ford; Speedy (1929) with Harold Lloyd; Riley the Cop (1929) for Ford; The Iron Mask (1929) with Douglas Fairbanks; The Divine Lady (1929); The Racketeer (1929); Anna Christie (1930) with Greta Garbo; the anti-war film All Quiet on the Western Front (1930); The Big Trail (1930) with John Wayne; Up the River (1930) for Ford; The Right to Love (1930) with Ruth Chatterton; Charles Chaplin's City Lights (1931);Scandal Sheet (1931); I Take This Woman (1931); Forbidden (1932) for Frank Capra; The Miracle Man (1932); and Scandal for Sale (1932).

Frederick Burton (actor)

Frederick Burton
Frederick Burton as Pa Bascom
The Big Trail (1930)

DeWitt Jennings

DeWitt C. Jennings
DeWitt Jennings as Boat Captain Hollister (uncredited)
The Big Trail (1930) - Boat Captain Hollister (uncredited)

Tully Marshall

Tully Marshall as Zeke, Coleman's sidekick
The Big Trail (1930) - Zeke

Western (genre)

Westernwestern filmwesterns
After completion of the film, Wayne was only cast in low-budget serials and features (mostly Poverty Row westerns); it took Wayne's role in Stagecoach (1939) for him to become an established performer.
Wayne had been introduced to the screen ten years earlier as the leading man in director Raoul Walsh's widescreen The Big Trail, which failed at the box office, due in part to exhibitors' inability to switch over to widescreen during the Depression.

Arthur Edeson

The cinematographer responsible for the 70mm version of the picture, Arthur Edeson, wrote in the September 1930 issue of American Cinematographer: "Grandeur reduces the number of close-ups considerably, as the figures are so much larger that semi-close-ups are usually all that is needed".
The western The Big Trail (1930), starring John Wayne in his first starring role, was also filmed by Edeson in the 70mm widescreen process, known as "Fox Grandeur".

Jack Padjan

Jack Padjan as Pioneer (uncredited)
In 1930, he coordinated the stunt performers for The Big Trail, and acted as an advisor to lead actor John Wayne.

Multiple-language version

multi-language versionBilingual filmforeign-language version
A fairly common practice in the early sound era was to simultaneously produce at least one foreign-language version of a film for release in non-English speaking countries; an approach later replaced by simply dubbing the dialogue.

John Wayne filmography

John Wayne filmography
He frequently worked in minor roles with director John Ford and when Raoul Walsh suggested him for the lead in The Big Trail (1930), an epic Western shot in an early widescreen process called Fox Grandeur, Ford vouched for him.

The Big Trail (1931 film)

The Big TrailLa Piste des géants
French: La Piste des géants (1931), directed by Pierre Couderc, starring Gaston Glass (Pierre Calmine), Jeanne Helbling (Denise Vernon), Margot Rousseroy (Yvette), Raoul Paoli (Flack), Louis Mercier (Lopez).
It is the French-language version of Fox's The Big Trail (1930).