The Big Trail (1930)

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  • OK, more info on the home video releases of The Big Trail.


    The initial US home video release of the film in 1988 has a sleeve that says 110 minutes and the VHS itself says approximately 112 minutes. The catalog number is 1362 and the UPC is 086162136238. Being early Fox, it's presented by their Michigan-based subsidiary, Key Video.


    The film ends up to be 121m:28s including exit music. It's the same print as the 1990 UK VHS release (which has the same catalog number) but has subtitles for sections where the audio can't be heard. The exit music doesn't appear on the UK VHS either. Confusing, huh? It looks like the audio was restored in the two years in between.


    So these early VHS releases are the same as the Fox Movie Channel print except not widescreen. The FMC print doesn't have exit music to my knowledge (at least not my copy).


    The 1988 US VHS was repackaged with new cover art in 1993 and retained the same catalog and UPC numbers. I don't know what's actually on that edition, though, nor the final VHS incarnation that has a different cover and catalog/UPC number. In any case, I wouldn't believe the running time printed on the jacket or tape.


    The first UK DVD of the film has a catalog number of 1362DVD, but it has been confirmed to be the standard 108-minute version released on DVD worldwide.


    I've been told that the really long version of The Big Trail was never released theatrically, that the film premiered in Grandeur at 125 minutes. So what's missing compared to the FMC and early VHS prints would only be a few minutes. Evidently this remaining footage still exists but is in rough shape, especially the soundtrack.

  • Hi Everyone

    I was just settled into watching the Big trail widescreen version I was sent some years ago. It was taped from US TV for me and was the widescreen restored version (MoMA)

    I will set the scene for you. I had arranged a time when I was alone, car in the garage so it looks like no one is home, phone off the hook, close the blinds, box of chocs, bottle of wine and a comfy chair.

    Was I having a great time? You bet! To my horror at 80 minutes the video went to a basketball game!! I ran the tape back and forth, nearly called the TV engineer hoping I was having yet another senior moment but alas no! It was like Saturday morning pictures and having to wait till the next week, except for me other than watching the end in pan and scan, there is no next week. AND fancy having to show my grand daughter the pan and scan version of this movie!

    I remember when I got it checking it but not all the way through and then filing it away.

    I have been cataloguing my collection recently and I thought I would have a treat and watch it. I have searched the usual sources and cannot beleive this film has STILL not been released in the widescreen version.

    Anyone want to make an old lady VERY happy and point me in the direction of a copy of the widescreen version please?

    You all know what I have in my collection that I would be willing to trade for this or if need be I could use the "unmentionable"

    Thank you

    Be who you are & say what you feel Because those who mind dont matter & those who matter dont mind

  • Hello Everyone

    As I said above I have 80 mins of the 70 MM widescreen version, and just wanted to add a little bit of info.

    Because only a small number of theatres could play widescreen films, two versions of the widescreen films were always simultaneously filmed, with the cameras side by side and the widescreen camera getting the better angle. By doing this, the film would be able to played throughout the country in 35mm at the same time it was being played in deluxe theatres capable of screening widescreen films.
    The original 70mm nitrate elements deteriorated in the 1960s, but a fine-grain
    CinemaScope-converted print of the 70mm version was found in 1972 and kept in the Library of Congress, and thus the film was restored to its full widescreen glory in the 1980s and re-screened at the Museum of Modern Art, and modern viewers wondered what audiences in 1930 had been thinking, since The Big Trail holds up astonishingly well given its age. The wagon train drive across the country was pioneering in its use of camerawork and the stunning scenery from the epic landscape. An extraordinary effort was made to lend authenticity to the movie, with the wagons drawn by oxen and lowered by ropes down canyons when necessary. Tyrone Power's character's clothing looks grimy in a more realistic way than has been seen in movies since, and even the food supplies the immigrants carried with them were researched. Locations in five states were used in the film caravan's 2000 mile trek. The movie was shot in both English and German (German-speaking leading men acted in the German version). Since it was filmed in both 35 mm and in 70 mm Grandeur film, there were two film crews. Amazingly enough, the 70mm version has been seen on cable television while only the 35mm version has been released to video and DVD.

    from MoMA

    Filmed simultaneously in both standard 35mm and Grandeur, an early wide-screen process, and with versions shot in German, Italian, French, and Spanish for foreign markets (in standard 35mm only and with alternate casts), this 1930 sound feature by veteran silent director Raoul Walsh is an impressive epic of the Oregon Trail. Although hampered by difficult locations and the new and unwieldy Grandeur apparatus, cinematographer Arthur Edeson succeeded in filling the screen with breathtaking natural vistas as well as beautifully composed close-ups of the young stars, Marguerite Churchill and John Wayne (in his first starring role). Moments of low comedy are woven awkwardly into the narrative, but the overall effect is one of high drama. The Museum of Modern Art spent many years on the preservation of this film, working with original elements in its Fox Collection; the result is the first restoration of the complete 70mm wide-screen Grandeur version, copied to anamorphic 35mm.


    According to the AMC cable network, the original 70MM elements deteriorated around the 1960s. Fortunately a 35MM Cinemascope transfer was made of the 70MM version before that time, and a fine-grain print of the 'scope transfer was discovered around 1974, and it is from this print that Fox' current restoration of the 70MM version is derived.


    It aired around 10 years ago on AMC, and has been recently shown on the Fox Movie Channel.

    Thanks to forward-thinking people at the Museum Of Modern Art (which funded the restoration), we today can still see "The Big Trail" the way Grandeur audiences first saw in 1930, at its original 2:1 ratio.


    It will probably take another miracle to further preserve the 70MM version digitally, but it is possible. Until then, keep your eyes out on the Fox Movie Channel network schedule to see when this version will air again.

    Be who you are & say what you feel Because those who mind dont matter & those who matter dont mind

  • Hi Elly,

    I would love for the 70mm version to be released onto DVD! And according to IMDB, the original film ran over a 150 minutes long. How great would it be to see the extra 30 minutes of the movie, that now appear lost.

    And Elly, as I'm guessing you realized from your second post, there is no pan-and-scan version of The Big Trail...just the alternately-shot 35mm version. Both were framed and shot in their respective proper ratios (with the 35mm version being the one released to DVD currently).

  • Hi Elly,


    I would love for the 70mm version to be released onto DVD! And according to IMDB, the original film ran over a 150 minutes long. How great would it be to see the extra 30 minutes of the movie, that now appear lost.

    And Elly, as I'm guessing you realized from your second post, there is no pan-and-scan version of The Big Trail...just the alternately-shot 35mm version. Both were framed and shot in their respective proper ratios (with the 35mm version being the one released to DVD currently).



    Thanks I did realise it was the 35mm I had on DVD. have you ever seen the 70mm version? apparently it is shown on US TV which is the VHS copy I have 80 minutes of!!

    The restored print that MoMA has is shown at festivals now and then and often at MoMA itself.

    I have seen a widescreen version of this movie offered for sale on ebay in the past, probably a copy from TV. However i am of the opinion that any copy is better than none or an incomplete copy so will have to trawl ebay or beg for a kindly person to record it when it is next on US Television.

    Elly

    Be who you are & say what you feel Because those who mind dont matter & those who matter dont mind

  • It would be great if they could restore the film to its original length one day. I was surprised how good this is for a western that was made nearly 80 years ago.

  • Hello Everyone

    I have uploaded the first five minutes of the BIG TRAIL the MoMA restored 70mm version :hyper:
    http://www.skyecast.com/view/1…he-70mm-restored-version/

    This is the one I have 80 minutes only from :cry2:

    Even after seeing this 5 minutes clip I am sure you will agree it is a totally different film in 70mm than the 35mm DVD.

    Hope you like it and it gets you all lobbying MoMA and Fox to release it onto DVD

    Be who you are & say what you feel Because those who mind dont matter & those who matter dont mind

  • :hyper: I have managed to get another FULL copy of Big Trail 70mm restored version on DVD.

    This time when it arrives I shall watch it right through even if the house is burning down around me.

    Will keep you all posted. A great find!!

    Elly

    I have this now. The running time is 120 minutes and No the house did not burn down whilst I watched it:teeth_smile:

    On a scale of 1 to 10. I would rate the quality as 8.5 and the service as 9. I would rate the entertainment value and enjoyment factor of seeing this movie in Widescreen all the way through as 20.

    The seller is our member Ron, username Big_Guy56

    Be who you are & say what you feel Because those who mind dont matter & those who matter dont mind

  • [FONT=arial, helvetica, courier, *] Okay... 20th Century Fox has just officially announced a trio of new DVD releases due on 5/20, including If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium, What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? and The Night They Raided Minsky's. The studio also has The Cutting Edge: Chasing the Dream due on 4/1, with The Big Trail: Fox Grandeur Special Edition following on 5/13.
    [/FONT]

  • Okay so here I am with news on the special features which I found via


    http://dvd.ign.com/articles/855/855888p1.html


    But is listed in a review on Amazon as well


    The Big Trail (Fox Grandeur Special Edition) DVD will feature the following bonus materials:


    • Commentary with film historian/author Richard Schickel on the 70mm widescreen presentation
    • The Creation of John Wayne
    • Raoul Walsh: A Man in His Time
    • The Big Vision: The Grandeur Process
    • The Making of The Big Trail
    • Trailers
    • Galleries:
    • Publicity
    • Original Posters
    • Pressbook Gallery

    And again, I do realize this is old news, but I am posting it for posterity .