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The Big Trail (1930)





The Big Trail is a 1930 American pre-Code early widescreen movie shot on location across the American West starring John Wayne in his first leading role and directed by Raoul Walsh.

In 2006, the United States Library of Congress deemed this film "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant", and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry, saying "the plot of a trek along the Oregon Trail is aided immensely by the majestic sweep provided by the experimental Grandeur wide-screen process used in filming"

A large caravan of settlers attempt to cross the Oregon Trail. Breck Coleman (John Wayne) is a young trapper who just got back to Missouri from his travels near Santa Fe, seeking to avenge the death of an old trapper friend who was killed the winter before along the Santa Fe Trail for his furs, by Red Flack (Tyrone Power, Sr.) and his minion Lopez (Charles Stevens). At a large trading post owned by a man named Wellmore, Coleman sees Flack and suspects him right away as being one of the killers. Flack likewise suspects Coleman as being somebody who knows too much about the killing. Coleman is asked by a large group of settlers to scout their caravan west, and declines, until he learns that Flack and Lopez were just hired by Wellmore to boss a bull train along the as-yet-unblazed Oregon Trail to a trading post in northern Oregon Territory (which at the time extended into current British Columbia), owned by another Missouri fur trader. Coleman agrees to scout for the train, so he can keep an eye on the villains and kill them as soon as they reach their destination. The caravan of settlers in their Prairie schooners would follow Wellmore's ox-drawn train of Conestoga Wagons, as the first major group of settlers to move west on the Oregon Trail. The film is set somewhere between 1837 and 1845.[notes 1] This is historically accurate, as the first major wave of settlers on the Oregon Trail was in 1843, although the details were completely different.

Coleman finds love with young Ruth Cameron (Marguerite Churchill), whom he'd kissed accidentally, mistaking her for somebody else. Unwilling to accept her attraction toward him, Ruth gets rather close to a gambler acquaintance of Flack's, Thorpe (Ian Keith), who joined the trail after being caught gambling. Coleman and Flack have to lead the settlers west, while Flack does everything he can to have Coleman killed before he finds any proof of what he'd done. The three villains' main reason for going west is to avoid the hangman's noose for previous crimes, and all three receive frontier justice instead. The settlers trail ends in an un-named valley, where Coleman and Ruth finally settle down together amidst giant redwoods.


Raoul Walsh, Louis R. Loeffler (uncredited)


John Wayne as Breck Coleman
Marguerite Churchill as Ruth Cameron
El Brendel as Gus, a comical Swede
Tully Marshall as Zeke, Coleman's sidekick
Tyrone Power, Sr. as Red Flack, wagon boss[3]
Frederick Burton as Pa Bascom
Ian Keith as Bill Thorpe, Louisiana gambler
Charles Stevens as Lopez, Flack's henchman (Geronimo's real-life grandson)
Louise Carver as Gus's mother-in-law
John Big Tree as Indian Chief (uncredited)
DeWitt Jennings as Boat Captain Hollister (uncredited)
Ward Bond as Sid Bascom (uncredited)
William V. Mong as Wellmore (uncredited)
Marcia Harris as Mrs. Riggs (uncredited)
Iron Eyes Cody as Indian (uncredited)
Alphonse Ethier as Marshal (uncredited)
Victor Adamson as Wagon Train Man (uncredited)
Helen Parrish as Honey Girl Cameron (uncredited)
Marilyn Harris as Pioneer Girl (uncredited)
Jack Curtis as Pioneer (uncredited)
Jack Padjan as Pioneer (uncredited)
Robert Parrish as Pioneer Boy (uncredited)
David Rollins as Dave Cameron (uncredited)
Russ Powell as Windy Bill (uncredited)




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