Friday, December 9, 2016

Movie Spotlight: The Big Trail (1930)

Google names this film as an "epic western", which is rather surprising perhaps as it was made in 1930, but is.... it... EVER! In fact so greatly laid on is the epicness that it is almost overwhelming. Imagine it as a history of the pioneers come alive. Floods, blizzards, the perils of the desert; each of the dangers the pioneers faced are shown in gritty frankness; not spoken of but shown, and as such it is a very impressive work indeed. And the people - ! They all look exactly like an old photo come to life. Yes, this film is worthy of being watched for the detail alone.

Now for my favorite parts - because though the above may be very educational there are other things to it as well...

Catching a glimpse of a young, rather lumberjack looking Ward Bond - he isn't even credited, but the few glimpses one can get of him made the film for me. :)

The heroine... and her siblings - You don't get to see any really close-ups of her brother and sister, but I absolutely love the interactions of the trio. Throw John Wayne in the mix, and you just wish you could see more of them all as a family.

Catch the name in the last sentence (and on the movie cover and all these screenshots)? Yes, my friend, this film stars the great and honorable John Wayne in one of his first big picture starring roles. This was before his image was really developed in the film we all know and love known as Stagecoach (1939) and he is still very much his twinkly boyish self and I love that a lot. From start to finish his character is just fun to watch... besides which his outfit is pretty neat. :)

Honestly, John Wayne as Breck Coleman, embodies this film with an energy that is as thrilling and marvelous as the rest of it is, and it is in that, I think, in which lives its epicness.

Posted as part of The John Wayne Blogathon hosted by Hamlette of Hamlette's Soliloquy and Quiggy of The Midnite Drive-In. Thank you SO MUCH for giving me the impetus to revel in some of my Favorite Sort of Things. :)


  1. I have only seen this twice, and many years ago, but I remember it being enormously fun. And it's so cool seeing John Wayne this young :-) I love watching his one-hour-long "oaters" when I need a pick-me-up, because they're also just amusing fun.

    Thanks for joining the blogathon!

  2. Enjoyed this look at The Big Trail. The energy and charisma of young John Wayne is undeniable although it will take a while for him to harness his energy. What impressed me was Ward Bond. As in all of his characters, he inhabits them fully and it was surprising to see that he did this from the start.

  3. Ohhh, this looks so wonderful! I must see this one day. :)

  4. This one is only midways on my totem pole of the Wayne oeuvre. But it does have some great cinematography. Thanks for joining the blogathon.

  5. Hey! I just realized I have this film in a John Wayne collection. Now that I've read your superb review, I've gotta see this ASAP.

    The images you posted from the film are gorgeous. The costumes are stunning!

  6. Ward Bond! Really? I can't believe I missed him entirely when watching it!

    It is a fun film of his, and probably the most realistic "wagon train going west" footage I've see in a film. As you've said, the epicness is overwhelming!


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