Friday, February 21, 2014

The Big Trail (1930)

Landmark early sound Western starring John Wayne nearly a decade before his star-making performance in STAGECOACH. This epic saga of the trek Westward by covered wagon was shot in the pioneering 70mm Grandeur process, which is expertly used to capture the breathtaking landscapes. Director Raoul Walsh uses the widescreen frame to emphasize the story's epic qualities and heightens the sense of authenticity by packing each shot with an incredible amount of visual detail.

It's easy to see the qualities in John Wayne's performance here that would make him a screen icon, even though he spent the next nine years working in low-budget films for Poverty Row studios. When it came to casting THE BIG TRAIL, Walsh supposedly asked his friend John Ford if he could recommend anyone for the lead. Ford immediately suggested Wayne and the rest, as they say, is history.

Incredibly, in addition to the 70mm and standard 35mm versions, the film was simultaneously shot in three different foreign language versions as well.

No comments: