Review: ‘The Big Trail’

A big screen effort [based on a story by Hal G. Evarts] and an elegantly directed job by Raoul Walsh. But the recurrence of the same things, interrupted now and then by a 'big scene', such as the river or cliff crossing, or El Brendel's dragged-in comedy with his mother-in-law, or the simple romance and the silly melodrama, commences to weary.

A big screen effort [based on a story by Hal G. Evarts] and an elegantly directed job by Raoul Walsh. But the recurrence of the same things, interrupted now and then by a ‘big scene’, such as the river or cliff crossing, or El Brendel’s dragged-in comedy with his mother-in-law, or the simple romance and the silly melodrama, commences to weary.

This leaves the historical portion, the Oregon trail, as the single interesting part.

Young John Wayne, wholly inexperienced, shows it, but also suggests he can be built up. He certainly has a great start as the lead role in a $2 million production.

Marguerite Churchill is set much in the same key, with not a great deal to do. Hers is mostly a silent role through being continually in a scrap with her sweetheart (Wayne) and not speaking to him.

The widescreen Grandeur [process] seems to dim the photography; leaves ensemble scenes indistinct, except for figure or form.

The Big Trail

Production

Fox. Director Raoul Walsh; Screenplay Jack Peabody, Marie Boyle, Florence Postal; Camera Lucien Andriot, Don Anderson, Bill McDonald, Roger Sherman, Bobby Mack, Henry Pollack, (35mm version) Arthur Edeson, Dave RAgin, Sol Halprin, Curt Fetters, Max Cohn; Editor Jack Dennis; Music Arthur Kay; Art Director Harold Miles, Fred Sersen

Crew

(B&W) Widescreen. Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1930. Running time: 125 MIN.

With

John Wayne Marguerite Churchill El Brendel Tully Marshall Tyrone Power Sr David Rollins
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