The Big Trail Overview:

The Big Trail (1930) was a Adventure - Western Film directed by Raoul Walsh and produced by Winfield R. Sheehan.


Pioneers heading for Oregon, led by the Duke in his first starring role, endure the hardships of weather, unfriendly strangers, and internal strife in this sophisticated early sound film. The straightforward Western tale is now overshadowed by its place in history as an early example of Fox's widescreen Grandeur process, its naturalistic sound, and prototypical Wayne performance.

(Source: available at Amazon AMC Classic Movie Companion).


The Big Trail was inducted into the National Film Registry in 2006.

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Quotes from

Pa Bascom: What did they do, Coleman?
Breck Coleman, Wagon Train Scout: Killed my best friend. And I've been on their trail ever since.
Pa Bascom: That's a serious charge. If you're sure, we'll call a settler's meeting in the morning to try 'em.
Breck Coleman, Wagon Train Scout: You can call a settler's meeting to bury 'em!
Pa Bascom: What do you mean?
Breck Coleman, Wagon Train Scout: I kill my own rats.

Breck Coleman, Wagon Train Scout: We can't turn back! We're blazing a trail that started in England. Not even the storms of the sea could turn back the first settlers. And they carrie dit on further. They blazed it on through the wilderness of Kentucky. Famine, hunger, not even massacres could stop them. And now we picked up the trail again. And nothing can stop us! Not even the snows of winter, nor the peaks of the highest mountain. We're building a nation and we got to suffer! No great trail was ever built without hardship. And you got to fight! That's right. And when you stop fighting, that's death. What are you going to do, lay down and die? Not in a thousand years! You're going on with me!

[Breck speaking over Wendy's grave]
Breck Coleman, Wagon Train Scout: Well, Zeke, old Wendy has gone on another trail.

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Facts about

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.
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.
Reportedly this film debuted at a running time of 158 minutes. However, this is unconfirmed as of May 2008.
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National Film Registry

The Big Trail

Released 1930
Inducted 2006

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Also directed by Raoul Walsh

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Also produced by Winfield R. Sheehan

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Also released in 1930

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