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Encyclopedia > The Big Trail

The Big Trail was a 1930 film starring John Wayne in his first leading role and was also the first widescreen movie, appearing decades before The Robe. Although the 23-year-old Wayne delivered an intriguing performance as wagon train scout Breck Coleman, the expensive shot-on-location movie was a huge flop as a result of being the first widescreen release during a time when theatres wouldn't change over due to the encroachments of the Great Depression. After The Big Trail, Wayne was demoted to cheap serials and low-budget westerns, and it would take another nine years and Stagecoach to make Wayne a major mainstream star. Legend has it that the director Raoul Walsh had co-star Tyrone Power, Sr. almost beaten to death for forcing himself on the leading lady, Marguerite Churchill. Power would die just a year later from a heart attack. 1930 (MCMXXX) is a common year starting on Wednesday. ... John Wayne (May 26, 1907 – June 11, 1979), popularly known as The Duke, was an American film actor whose career began in silent movies in the 1920s. ... The Robe, a 1952 historical novel featuring the Crucifixion, written by Lloyd C. Douglas, is more familiar as a 1953 Biblical epic film which tells the story of a Roman tribune who commands the unit that crucifies Jesus. ... Stagecoach is a 1939 Western which tells the tale of Oprah Winfrey and some strangers thrown in a castle made of shoddy clothing on a stagecoach which is attacked by Dr Phil and the Bandits. ... Raoul Walsh (March 11, 1887 – December 31, 1980) was an American motion picture director. ... Tyrone Power Sr. ... A myocardial infarction occurs when an atherosclerotic plaque slowly builds up in the inner lining of a coronary artery and then suddenly ruptures, totally occluding the artery and preventing blood flow downstream. ...


The Big Trail was the first movie shot in widescreen because studio head William Fox was convinced by 1929 that television, which hadn't appeared commercially yet, would eventually give movies ruinous competition. The same lenses were used for the widescreen movie The Robe more than two decades later, when Fox's dire predictions were becoming a reality. Because the terrifying Depression made it difficult for many theatres to make the switch to widescreen in 1930 (especially since they'd just spent a lot of money to convert to sound), two versions of the movie were simultaneously filmed, with the cameras side by side and the widescreen camera getting the better angle. William Fox could refer to the following persons: William Fox – Prime Minister of New Zealand on four occasions in the 19th century Wilhelm Fried, better known with his adopted name William Fox – founder of the Fox Film Corporation (now 20th Century Fox) William Fox Talbot – a pioneer of photography. ... The Robe, a 1952 historical novel featuring the Crucifixion, written by Lloyd C. Douglas, is more familiar as a 1953 Biblical epic film which tells the story of a Roman tribune who commands the unit that crucifies Jesus. ...


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 emigrants carried with them were researched. Locations in 5 states were used in the movie 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. View across garden, in new MoMA building by Yoshio Taniguchi (MoMA) is an art museum located in Midtown Manhattan in New York City. ... Binomial name Bos taurus Linnaeus, 1758 Cattle are domesticated ungulates, a member of the subfamily Bovinae of the family Bovidae. ... 70 mm Grandeur film, the forerunner of CinemaScope was used in the film the The Big Trail, in which John Wayne played his first starring role. ...


Filming began in April, 1930, but John Wayne, a completely unknown actor recently promoted from prop man by director Raoul Walsh, fell sick from dysentery and was nearly replaced as the lead. Raoul Walsh (March 11, 1887 – December 31, 1980) was an American motion picture director. ... Dysentery is an illness involving severe diarrhea that is often associated with blood in the feces. ...


Further Reading

  • Chapter 8, "The Big Trail and Beyond", Donald Shepherd and Robert Slatzer with Dave Grayson, Duke: The Life and Times of John Wayne, Doubleday (1985), hardcover, 372 pages, ISBN 038517893X

External links


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The Big Trail - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (549 words)
The Big Trail was a 1930 film starring John Wayne in his first leading role and was also the first widescreen movie, appearing decades before The Robe.
After The Big Trail, Wayne was demoted to cheap serials and low-budget westerns, and it would take another nine years and Stagecoach to make Wayne a major mainstream star.
The Big Trail was the first movie shot in widescreen because studio head William Fox was convinced by 1929 that television, which hadn't appeared commercially yet, would eventually give movies ruinous competition.
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