THE BIG TRAIL
DIRECTED BY RAOUL WALSH
PRODUCED BY WINFIELD R. SHEEHAN
FOX FILM CORPORATION
INFORMATION FROM IMDb
Breck leads a wagon train of pioneers through Indian attack, storms, deserts,
swollen rivers, down cliffs and so on while looking for the murder of a trapper
and falling in love with Ruth.
John Wayne .... Breck Coleman
Marguerite Churchill .... Ruth Cameron
El Brendel .... Gussie
Tully Marshall .... Zeke
Tyrone Power Sr. .... Red Flack, wagon boss (as Tyrone Power)
David Rollins .... Dave 'Davey' Cameron
Frederick Burton .... Pa Bascom
Ian Keith .... Bill Thorpe
Charles Stevens .... Lopez
Louise Carver .... Gussie's mother-in-law
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Chief John Big Tree .... Indian (uncredited)
Ward Bond .... Sid Bascom (uncredited)
Nino Cochise .... Indian (uncredited)
Iron Eyes Cody .... Indian (uncredited)
Don Coleman .... Wrangler (uncredited)
Emslie Emerson .... Sairey (uncredited)
Alphonse Ethier .... Marshal (uncredited)
Dannie Mac Grant .... (uncredited)
Marcia Harris .... Mrs. Riggs (uncredited)
Marilyn Harris .... Pioneer girl (uncredited)
DeWitt Jennings .... Boat Captain Hollister (uncredited)
Marjorie Leet .... Mildred Riggs (uncredited)
Marion Lessing .... (uncredited)
William V. Mong .... Wellmore, trading post owner (uncredited)
Pete Morrison .... Wrangler (uncredited)
Dodo Newton .... Abigail Vance (uncredited)
Jack Padjan .... Pioneer (uncredited)
Helen Parrish .... Honey Girl Cameron (uncredited)
Robert Parrish .... Pioneer boy (uncredited)
Jack Peabody .... Bill Gillis (uncredited)
Russ Powell .... Windy Bill (uncredited)
Frank Rainboth .... Ohio man (uncredited)
Apache Bill Russell .... (uncredited)
Andy Shuford .... Bit part (uncredited)
Gertrude Van Lent .... Sister from Missouri (uncredited)
Lucille Van Lent .... Sister from Missouri (uncredited)
Hal G. Evarts (story)
Raoul Walsh (story contributor) uncredited
Marie Boyle (screenplay) (dialogue) uncredited &
Jack Peabody (screenplay) (dialogue) uncredited
Florence Postal (screenplay) (dialogue) uncredited
R.H. Bassett (uncredited)
Peter Brunelli (uncredited)
Alfred Dalby (uncredited)
Arthur Kay (uncredited)
Jack Virgil (uncredited)
Lucien N. Andriot (photographed by) (35mm version) (as Lucien Andriot)
Steve Clemente ... stunts (uncredited)
Iron Eyes Cody ... stunts (uncredited)
Jack Padjan ... stunt coordinator (uncredited) Camera and Electrical Department
Gary Cooper was originally offered the role of Breck Coleman and wanted it, but he was under contract to Paramount Pictures, which refused to loan him out. The role was eventually given to John Wayne.
This was his only talking film of Tyrone Power Sr., father of Tyrone Power. He died in 1931.
Incredibly, five different versions of this film were shot simultaneously. (1) a 70mm version in the Grandeur process for exhibition in the biggest movie palaces; (2) a standard 35mm version for general release; (3) a 35mm alternate French language version La piste des géants (1931)' (4) a 35 mm alternate Spanish language version La gran jornada (1931), and (5) a 35 mm alternate German language version Die große Fahrt (1931). The three alternate language versions were shot with (mostly) different casts.
Reportedly this film debuted at a running time of 158 minutes. However, this is unconfirmed as of May 2008.
This film was shot in both the wide screen format, synonymous with "Cinemescope", as well as the standard format. Special wide screens were needed. Most theaters featured only the standard version of the film. Moviegoers at that time, the 1930s, had difficulty paying higher ticket prices to accommodate the new process. This process was soon abandoned but reappeared in 1953 with The Robe (1953), produced in Cinemescope. Television had taken some revenue away from the movie industry and the economy had improved.
John Wayne's first movie role. Raoul Walsh was having trouble casting the movie when he saw Wayne taking furniture off a truck. Wayne worked for the studio in the prop department.
Marion Morrison was discovered working in the part department and was cast in this film. The producers didn't like his name. Raoul Walsh (the director, who discovered him) suggested Wayne as a last name. He had recently been reading about General Anthony Wayne (Mad Anthony Wayne). The studio added John and the rest was history.
The story is set somewhere between 1837 and 1845. The first major wave of settlers arrived on the Oregon Trail in 1843.
According to the Nov. 12, 1930 issue of the Idaho Falls Post, this movie was once set to be titled "The Oregon Trail". The change, as stated, was made in response to the requests from nearby residents of Jackson, WY, where the bulk of the movie was filmed.
At the beginning of filming John Wayne became ill with dysentery and lost 20 lbs.
In the last scene where Breck and Ruth are reunited,
Breck comes up the trail and is seen by Ruth.
A close up of Breck shows him carrying his rifle in his right hand.
Breck starts to run to meet Ruth.
The shot shifts to a distant shot as we watch Ruth and Breck running to each other.
Breck's rifle is now slung over his shoulder.
(at around 10 mins) Breck Coleman leans his rifle against the water pump,
then leaves it there and goes into the house. Not something a 'real' frontiersman would do.
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After Thorpe is killed while trying to murder Breck Coleman (John Wayne),
Flack (Tyrone Power Sr.) talks about dismissing Breck as a guide.
While he does this, Ward Bond (standing to the right) is clearly mouthing Flack's lines.
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