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A few words about...™ The Big Trail -- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About

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#21 of 38 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted November 12 2012 - 09:50 AM

Originally Posted by bigshot 

I'm sorry, I screened this last night and you're off your nut with this review.
This film is astounding. The sophistication of the compositions and the scale of the shots are beautiful. I've never seen a film from that era that even comes close to this. It reminds me of Fitzcarraldo crossed with How the West was Won.
John Wayne oozes charisma in this picture. I'm not a huge John Wayne fan, but from the second he comes on screen and swings his leg over his horse's back to casually lean over his saddle to speak to someone, you can't take your eyes off him. He wears the character like a comfortable suit of clothes he's been wearing all his life.
The wilderness photography here is incredible. In 1930, they'd be lucky to have a dirt road leading to these isolated locations. How they schlepped a monumental production like this over five states in four months is a total puzzle to me.
The Hitchcock and Universal Monsters sets are great, and Die Nibelungen, Keaton and The Penalty are remarkable as well. But I knew all about those pictures. This one I had only seen back in the VHS days in the vastly inferior 35mm version. I thought the movie sucked back then. But after seeing it on bluray the way it was intended to be seen, I've done a 180. To me, this is the most surprising and wonderful restored classic film of the year.

Stephen,


The film IS astounding...


to those who respect and indulge in what is essentially antique cinema.  I happen to love it,

but suggesting that others will find it equally as interesting, is a fine line that I tread carefully.


I don't want to mislead those who find black & white films of the '60s an odd indulgence.


RAH


"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#22 of 38 OFFLINE   bigshot

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Posted November 12 2012 - 04:55 PM

I guess my theory is to encourage people to broaden their horizons to great films they wouldn't normally consider. I very nearly passed this film up, thinking it was a Republic potboiler. It wasn't until I saw the frame grabs at the beaver that I realized how amazing this film is. It has everything going for it. It is brilliantly directed, John Wayne is a drop dead natural and the pacing keeps it moving along well. It isn't a curate's egg at all. I've talked to several friends about this film. They all panned it. But I found out that they were basing their opinion on the 35 version, which isn't the same film at all. People need to know about great films like this. Movie fans read your posts too, not just teenage kids!

#23 of 38 ONLINE   Steven_M Grimes

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Posted November 12 2012 - 11:19 PM

I had toyed around with getting this title back when it was a Walmart exclusive, but talked myself out of it for various reasons. The comments in this thread have convinced be to get it. I was astounded when I first saw this movie in widescreen on AMC years ago, for many of the reasons expressed above, and am looking forward to seeing it again.

#24 of 38 OFFLINE   David_B_K

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Posted November 17 2012 - 04:42 PM

Picked this up for $9.99 @ Fry's yesterday. I already had the earlier 2-disc DVD, but had never watched it. I'd once recorded the Grandeur version off a movie channel and had never watched it then either. I tried, but it just seemed to be too talky in the early talkies we-love-to-hear-ourselves-talk manner. The Blu-ray looks great. I intend to actually watch it after reading the comments on this thread.

#25 of 38 OFFLINE   Richard--W

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Posted November 19 2012 - 02:48 PM

The Big Trail should be required viewing in junior high and high schools. How the West Was Won, too. Would kids would sit still for these films today?

#26 of 38 OFFLINE   bigshot

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Posted November 20 2012 - 01:31 PM

Kids are just as smart as ever. There are just more distractions nowadays. Too much multitasking. If you can get a kid in a situation where they can focus, they'd do fine.

#27 of 38 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted February 23 2013 - 02:23 PM

Fox never sent a review copy of The Big Trail, but I finally bought a copy and got around to playing it this evening. I found much of the image quality astoundingly beautiful, hypnotic even and am so glad I waited to get the film on Blu-ray rather than springing years ago for the DVD of the Grandeur edition. There are so many EPIC scenes that the widescreen just looks made for. I couldn't help thinking how the Oscar-winning Cimarron might have been aided by widescreen photography.

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Posted February 23 2013 - 02:26 PM

Fox never sent a review copy of The Big Trail, but I finally bought a copy and got around to playing it this evening. I found much of the image quality astoundingly beautiful, hypnotic even and am so glad I waited to get the film on Blu-ray rather than springing years ago for the DVD of the Grandeur edition. There are so many EPIC scenes that the widescreen just looks made for. I couldn't help thinking how the Oscar-winning Cimarron might have been aided by widescreen photography.

The film looks more realistic than any other wagon train-type movie. It's amazing that they shot in those locations in 1930 - must have been a tough shoot.

#29 of 38 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted February 23 2013 - 02:30 PM

The film looks more realistic than any other wagon train-type movie. It's amazing that they shot in those locations in 1930 - must have been a tough shoot.

Right. It really is an epic undertaking, and the film captures just about every possible natural disaster that a wagon train would have to cope with during a several thousand mile journey (and a couple of man-made disasters, too). It's truly too bad the Depression prevented Grandeur from taking off because with the new sound recording paired with the grand scope of 70mm filmmaking, my goodness what treasures we might have had in widescreen!

#30 of 38 OFFLINE   Richard--W

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Posted February 24 2013 - 12:18 AM

Fox never sent a review copy of The Big Trail, but I finally bought a copy and got around to playing it this evening. I found much of the image quality astoundingly beautiful, hypnotic even and am so glad I waited to get the film on Blu-ray rather than springing years ago for the DVD of the Grandeur edition. There are so many EPIC scenes that the widescreen just looks made for. I couldn't help thinking how the Oscar-winning Cimarron might have been aided by widescreen photography.

Why not post a review anyhow? A hi-def scan would still bring out the best in CIMARRON's academy ratio as there is exceptional detail in that film. THE BIG TRAIL is the best of several early western epics (plus it has John Wayne), but you should make a point of watching THE COVERED WAGON (Paramount, 1923) and THE PONY EXPRESS (Paramount, 1925). Both are epics on a grand scale, both are expertly made and beautifully photographed, both are filmed in wilderness locations, both utilize period hardware for props and such, both are based on authentic pioneer accounts, both are directed by James Cruze, both survive in good condition and neither are on digital media. THE COVERED WAGON can still be found on a Paramount VHS. THE PONY EXPRESS has been rescued by Grapevine Video on a DVD-R.

#31 of 38 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted February 24 2013 - 02:47 AM

Originally Posted by Richard--W 


Why not post a review anyhow?
 


Pure sour grapes. If Fox wants me to go to the trouble of writing a complete review of one of their releases, they can do me the courtesy of sending a review copy. To my way of thinking, it's only fair. Those reviews take a great deal of thought and time.



#32 of 38 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted February 24 2013 - 03:48 AM

Originally Posted by MattH. 


Pure sour grapes. If Fox wants me to go to the trouble of writing a complete review of one of their releases, they can do me the courtesy of sending a review copy. To my way of thinking, it's only fair. Those reviews take a great deal of thought and time.

But it would cost the publisher $2 plus shipping.  Do you honestly feel your time equates to their costs in any way?  Posted Image


I actually purchase a decent percentage of my review copies, which is generally why I use as few words as possible.


RAH


"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#33 of 38 OFFLINE   Professor Echo

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Posted February 24 2013 - 04:02 AM

One of the reasons why I love a site like DVD DRIVE-IN and trust their reviews more than some sites is because they often buy the discs and aren't dependent on studios to furnish them with freebies. I happen to know one alleged critic at a site, who is very well regarded, but has NEVER purchased a DVD for review and boasts of his entire collection not costing him a dime. And, of course, he often focuses on reviewing expensive or limited edition titles and has rarely ever given a largely negative review to anything. Sorry, that's not the definition of a critic in my book, whether amateur or professional.

#34 of 38 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted February 24 2013 - 04:09 AM

Originally Posted by Professor Echo 

One of the reasons why I love a site like DVD DRIVE-IN and trust their reviews more than some sites is because they often buy the discs and aren't dependent on studios to furnish them with freebies. I happen to know one alleged critic at a site, who is very well regarded, but has NEVER purchased a DVD for review and boasts of his entire collection not costing him a dime. And, of course, he often focuses on reviewing expensive or limited edition titles and has rarely ever given a largely negative review to anything. Sorry, that's not the definition of a critic in my book, whether amateur or professional.

Agreed.


While we all have opinions, one of the things that led me to this site originally, was the zero agenda basis for reviews.


In situations where publicists legitimately run out of software, and yes, this does occur, the point is often made that whether copies are promotional or purchased, what is written will never be affected.


And while I tend to summarize my thoughts, this site's reviewers -- and I'm aware of the huge number of hours that must go into things such as boxed sets (I've discussed this with KevinEK) -- are putting in sometimes 30-40 hours in order to give an extensive, no holds barred review.


RAH


"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#35 of 38 OFFLINE   Richard--W

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Posted February 24 2013 - 07:07 AM

May I say that the reviews by MattH, Cameron Yee and a couple of others on HTF are consistently discerning, objective, fair and helpful. I don't always agree with points here and there but that's only to be expected.

#36 of 38 OFFLINE   bigshot

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Posted February 25 2013 - 06:00 PM

I think it depends on who you're doing the review for... the studio or the readership. If it's for the readership, it doesn't matter if the disk was comped or not.

#37 of 38 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted February 25 2013 - 11:16 PM

Originally Posted by bigshot 

I think it depends on who you're doing the review for... the studio or the readership. If it's for the readership, it doesn't matter if the disk was comped or not.

You've hit it spot on.  Although studio / site relationships can get tenuous at times, and the only means of making a point is to go silent.  That said, I believe everyone here writes for the readership.


RAH


"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#38 of 38 OFFLINE   Richard Gallagher

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Posted February 26 2013 - 09:53 AM

Originally Posted by Robert Harris 

You've hit it spot on.  Although studio / site relationships can get tenuous at times, and the only means of making a point is to go silent.  That said, I believe everyone here writes for the readership.


RAH


Speaking only for myself (although I believe that this is true of the rest of the HTF reviewers), I have never heard a word of complaint from a studio after I have posted a negative review. Recently I thoroughly trashed Adam Sandler's That's My Boy and there was not a peep about it from Sony.


Some HTF members may not realize that the reviewers here are volunteers, and most of us have full-time jobs which are unrelated to films. We are beholden only to the management and membership of HTF.


Rich Gallagher





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