The Big Trail (1930)

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David Alp

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The Big Trail (1930)

PostSat Nov 25, 2017 11:34 am

So "The Big Trail" (1930) was on Talking Pictures TV today in the UK, and I recorded it wondering whether it would be the Grandeur version or the 35mm (Square) version? Turned out to be the Grandeur Version! The picture looked fine to me, probably taken from the recent DVD by 20th Century Fox?

Anyway 15 minutes into the film I thought I'd bung in my Blu-Ray and do some comparing. As soon as I viewed the newer BluRay version there was NO COMPARISON!! The Blu-Ray was sharp, crisp, clear, I could physically see the film-grain, and it was in proper black & white, as oppose to a nasty greenish tinge to the Talking Pictures TV version. Just shows you how blu-ray is unbeatable.

Oh! Another thing i was wondering? Someone might know this? The "takes" on the [square] 35mm version? Are they the same takes as are on the Grandeur 70mm version? (I.e were the two cameras side by side?) Or are they completely different takes? I would love to know. [Without a second TV set I cannot run the two film together at the same time you see]. Thanks guys.
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David Alp

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Re: The Big Trail (1930)

PostSat Nov 25, 2017 12:00 pm

Oh! Hang on! So have just checked my disc for the running times of BOTH features! And the Grandeur version runs for 2 hours 1 minute and 44 seconds -- whilst the 35mm version only runs for 1 hour, 48 minutes and 12 seconds!!

A difference of almost 14 minutes between the two! (The 35mm version being much shorter).
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earlytalkiebuffRob

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Re: The Big Trail (1930)

PostSat Nov 25, 2017 1:48 pm

As I understand it (I saw the film at the London Film Festival in the late 1980s) what we now see is an anamorphic version of what was originally 70mm, In addition, I have read that THE BIG TRAIL originally ran for about 150m, so I don't know when that was shorn down to 125m. As there were comparatively few cinemas equipped to show the Grandeur version, I suspect that the roadshow running time was the running time for the film, unless it was cut during its run. Think this subject deserves a book to itself. probably from McFarland...
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moviepas

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Re: The Big Trail (1930)

PostSun Nov 26, 2017 2:48 am

THE BIG TRAIL(1930):

Beyond the format difference, the 70mm and 35mm versions vary substantially from each other. They were shot by different cameras, and footage for each format was edited separately in the cutting room. Some scenes were shot simultaneously by both cameras, the only difference being the angle (with the better angle usually given to the 70mm camera). Some scenes were shot first by one camera, and then retaken with the other camera. The 70mm cameras could not focus well up close, so their shots were mainly panoramas with very few close-ups. The 35mm cameras could move in and focus at short distances. Thus, scenes in the 70mm version might show two characters talking to each other in the same take, making greater use of the widescreen frame, while the 35mm version would have close-up shots cutting back and forth between the two characters.
In editing the films, some scenes were edited out for one version but allowed to remain in the other. The 35mm version was edited to be shorter, so many scenes in the 70mm version are not found in the 35mm. However, there are a few scenes in the 35mm version not found in the 70mm. The 35mm version was 108 minutes, but the 70mm was longer at 122 minutes. The 70mm version has been released on VHS as well as DVD in its original widescreen format, but it was also panned and scanned to fit a traditional 4:3 aspect ratio TV screen, despite the availability of the 35mm version which is closer to that format.

Strange that MOMA had a shrunken original camera negative of the film and that it was not lost in the Little Ferry(NJ) fire in 1937 along with the 70mm materials for John McCormack's Song O'My Heart(saved in 35mm version).

FOREIGN LANGUAGE VERSIONS(probably lost now):

A fairly common practice in the early sound era was to simultaneously produce at least one foreign-language version of a film for release in non-English speaking countries; an approach later replaced by simply dubbing the dialogue. There were at least four foreign-language versions made of The Big Trail, all filmed in 35mm, 1.20:1 ratio and using different casts and different character names:
French: La Piste des géants (1931), directed by Pierre Couderc, starring Gaston Glass (Pierre Calmine), Jeanne Helbling (Denise Vernon), Margot Rousseroy (Yvette), Raoul Paoli (Flack), Louis Mercier (Lopez).
German: Die Große Fahrt (1931), directed by Lewis Seiler and Raoul Walsh, starring Theo Shall (Bill Coleman), Marion Lessing (Ruth Winter), Ullrich Haupt (Thorpe), Arnold Korff (Peter), Anders Van Haden (Bull Flack), Peter Erkelenz (Fichte), Paul Panzer (Lopez). Die Große Fahrt on IMDb
Italian: Il grande sentiero (1931), starring Franco Corsaro and Luisa Caselotti.
Spanish: La Gran jornada (1931), directed by David Howard, Samuel Schneider, and Raoul Walsh, starring Jorge Lewis (Raul Coleman), Carmen Guerrero (Isabel Prados), Roberto Guzmán (Tomas), Martin Garralaga (Martin), Al Ernest Garcia (Flack), Tito Davison (Daniel), Carlos Villarías (Orena), Charles Stevens,
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Connoisseur

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Re: The Big Trail (1930)

PostSun Nov 26, 2017 3:25 am

"Die grosse Fahrt" survives and is an extra on a DVD
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s.w.a.c.

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Re: The Big Trail (1930)

PostSun Nov 26, 2017 8:37 am

Connoisseur wrote:"Die grosse Fahrt" survives and is an extra on a DVD

Later cited as a big influence on Blazing Saddles.
Twinkletoes wrote:Oh, ya big blister!
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earlytalkiebuffRob

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Re: The Big Trail (1930)

PostSun Nov 26, 2017 1:33 pm

s.w.a.c. wrote:
Connoisseur wrote:"Die grosse Fahrt" survives and is an extra on a DVD

Later cited as a big influence on Blazing Saddles.


Pass the artichokes...
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earlytalkiebuffRob

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Re: The Big Trail (1930)

PostSun Nov 26, 2017 1:34 pm

Connoisseur wrote:"Die grosse Fahrt" survives and is an extra on a DVD


Which issue would that be?

And on a similar tack, likewise with the silent ALL QUIET...
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David Alp

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Re: The Big Trail (1930)

PostSun Nov 26, 2017 4:22 pm

moviepas wrote:Strange that MOMA had a shrunken original camera negative of the film and that it was not lost in the Little Ferry(NJ) fire in 1937


Very very interesting stuff moviepas! So, if the original camera negative to the 70mm version of "The Big Trail" still exists to this day, I wonder why it was not used for an ULTRA pristine blu-ray release? My guess would be that it had shrunken way too much for early 2000's technology?

However nowadays they don't even have to run a film through a projector to scan it! So maybe on the next "Go-Round" of the next scanning of "The Big Trail" do you think they will use the original negative? [for a possible 4K scan]?

The reason I ask is because the bits of "King Of Jazz" that were from the original negative were JUST UNBELIEVABLY clear! Like a film made just yesterday! I was dumbfounded by the new King Of Jazz.
Last edited by David Alp on Sun Nov 26, 2017 6:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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LouieD

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Re: The Big Trail (1930)

PostSun Nov 26, 2017 4:51 pm

Connoisseur wrote:"Die grosse Fahrt" survives and is an extra on a DVD


Which issue is this on?
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Connoisseur

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Re: The Big Trail (1930)

PostMon Nov 27, 2017 11:58 am

There is an edition "Der grosse Treck" by Koch Media in Germany, offering "The Big Trail" on BR, the 35mm version (108 Min) as Bonus, and "Die große Fahrt" as another bonus (75 Minutes).
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earlytalkiebuffRob

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Re: The Big Trail (1930)

PostMon Nov 27, 2017 1:50 pm

Connoisseur wrote:There is an edition "Der grosse Treck" by Koch Media in Germany, offering "The Big Trail" on BR, the 35mm version (108 Min) as Bonus, and "Die große Fahrt" as another bonus (75 Minutes).


The latter seems rather short. I wonder if that's the length it was released at, or if it is just incomplete. Will have to check it out although I'm not optimistic as to English subtitles...
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Re: The Big Trail (1930)

PostWed Nov 29, 2017 11:50 am

It was released to the market with 2157 meters, rather short, and shortly after that cut down to 2129 m - even shorter.

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