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John Wayne: The Fox Westerns Collection (The Big Trail / North to Alaska / The Comancheros / The Undefeated)

4.8 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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(May 13, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Disc 1: THE BIG TRAIL WS Disc 2: THE BIG TRAIL P&S Disc 3: THE COMANCHEROS Disc 4: NORTH TO ALASKA Disc 5: THE UNDEFEATED

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The Big Trail: One of very few widescreen productions filmed at the dawn of the talkies, The Big Trail (1930) was dismissed by reviewers of the day, little seen, and soon shelved and forgotten--for more than half a century, as it turned out. For movie buffs, it became a sort of Holy Grail. After all, the esteemed Raoul Walsh had directed, the early 70mm angle was tantalizing, and wasn't this the movie that was intended to make a star of Duke Morrison, a 22-year-old former prop man whom Walsh had rechristened John Wayne for the occasion? For curiosity value alone, surely it rated a look. Restored in the late 1980s and warmly embraced by film festival audiences, The Big Trail proved to be more than just a historical footnote. What were those 1930 reviewers thinking?! Wayne is fresh, exuberant, matinee-idol handsome, and irresistibly charming (only a little purple prose trips him up, and no one should have been asked to speak such early-talkie flapdoodle anyway). The scenario winds through epic settings from the banks of the Mississippi by way of the Grand Canyon to the snows of Oregon and the mountain vistas of Washington, marking both a wagon train's journey and the settling of a personal score between trail guide Wayne and Tyrone Power Sr. as a veritable ogre of a villain. The Big Trail is now an authentic classic, and a swell movie. Probably always was.

The Comancheros: Nobody made a fuss about The Comancheros when it came out in 1961, yet it has proved to be among the most enduringly entertaining of John Wayne's later Westerns. The Duke, just beginning to crease and thicken toward Rooster Cogburn proportions, plays a veteran Texas Ranger named Jake Cutter. When we first see him (in a tongue-in-cheek delayed entrance), he's catching up with a New Orleans dandy (Stuart Whitman) who killed a judge's son in a duel just after that gentlemanly practice was banned. Monsieur Paul Regret--or "Mon-sooor," as Jake insists on calling him--is not a bad fellow, let alone a badman, and it only follows that, after the requisite number of misunderstandings, he and Jake will join forces to subdue rampaging Indians and the evil white men behind their uprising. The Comancheros was the last credit for Michael Curtiz, who, ravaged by cancer, ceded much of the direction to Wayne (uncredited) and action specialist Cliff Lyons. With support from Wayne stalwarts James Edward Grant (coscreenplay) and William Clothier (camera), the first of many rousing Elmer Bernstein scores for a Wayne picture, and a big, flavorful cast including Lee Marvin (the once and future Liberty Valance), Nehemiah Persoff, Bruce Cabot, and Guinn "Big Boy" Williams (in his last movie), they made a broad, cheerfully bloodthirsty adventure movie for red-meat-eating audiences of all ages. Even the liberal-pinko Time magazine had to second the salute from leading lady Ina Balin at film's end: "Take care of yourself, Big Jake ... we've sort of gotten used to you."

North to Alaska: Even people habitually hostile to John Wayne movies tend to cast an indulgent eye on the rumbustious 1960 comedy-Western North to Alaska--partly because the Alaska gold rush setting seems more exotic than, say, Texas or Arizona, and because there are no Indians to discriminate against and no macho gunplay to fret about. As for John Wayne as all-purpose icon of male chauvinism, Big Sam McCord (the Duke) spends much of the movie in a state of growing discombobulation because he has fallen in love with, and is thoroughly flummoxed by, "Angel" (Capucine), the woman he's brought back from Seattle to marry his heartsick partner George (Stewart Granger). Henry Hathaway directs in a broader vein than usual, but he hits paydirt. Even Fabian, the latest pop music idol to be dragooned into supporting the elder roughnecks, is fun, and Ernie Kovacs is droll casting as chief "villain."

The Undefeated: John Wayne, that pillar of machismo, was well aware that costar Rock Hudson was gay, yet he prized him as a boon companion, a fellow professional, and one hell of a bridge player. Each plays a Civil War commander who, after the ceasefire, leads a community of home folks into Mexico to make a fresh start. Hudson is a Southern gentleman; Wayne commanded the Yankee cavalry at Shiloh, where Hudson's brother died. Nevertheless, Rock, with his extended family, and Duke, with his troop of cowboys and 3,000 horses to sell to Emperor Maximilian, soon join forces to outgun banditos and beam paternally over the budding romance between their respective daughter and son (an adopted Indian played by footballer Roman Gabriel with Crystal Gayle hair). Lingering North-South animosities are celebrated in an obligatory communal fistfight in the Andrew V. McLaglen manner, and the showdown with both Maximilian's lancers and the rebel Juaristas is disconcertingly perfunctory. --Richard T. Jameson


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Rock Hudson, Stewart Granger, Capucine
  • Directors: Raoul Walsh, Michael Curtiz, Henry Hathaway
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Unknown)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: May 13, 2008
  • Run Time: 469 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0015TJBXW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,803 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By H. Bala TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 26, 2008
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John Wayne didn't really tame the wild, wild west; it just seems like he did. The man is larger than life and about as iconic as it gets. JOHN WAYNE - THE FOX WESTERNS doesn't come close to showcasing his best films, with two of the four - THE COMANCHEROS and THE UNDEFEATED - being merely passable fare. However, a third entry NORTH TO ALASKA is a good-natured, rollicking film, while THE BIG TRAIL is a little known but historically momentous cinematic gem.

Plenty to say about THE BIG TRAIL. Back in 1930, Marion Morrison was 23 years old and working as prop man on the movie lot when legendary director Raoul Walsh saw him and took an enormous chance. Marion's name was changed to John Wayne, and he was given the lead in Walsh's ambitious, sweeping western epic THE BIG TRAIL. Note that even though director John Ford had already planted Wayne in several films, it was as an extra. Wayne was very raw here, in his first starring role; but that doesn't mean he wasn't good.

In THE BIG TRAIL John Wayne plays Breck Coleman, a scout who guides a wagon train of settlers 2500 miles, from the Mississippi banks thru the western wilderness to a remote valley beyond Oregon. All the while Coleman attempts to ferret out his best friend's killers; he even finds time to romance the beautiful pioneer girl Ruth (Marguerite Churchill). One of the early talkies, this film is still relevant today and contemporary enough in its sensibilities that you get caught up in the story, which is involving and exciting and at times humorous (I quite enjoyed the "Looks like barrels grow on trees around here." sequence).
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This set contains an absolute GEM...which is the 2 disc THE BIG TRAIL from 1930(the 2008 Widescreen edition) and three lesser 1960's era Wayne colour widescreen films. The Big Trail is a must have for western, film or wayne fans and the three others are certainly fun later Wayne films that don't add much price to the package. I should add that earlier editions of these three films had nice / fun featurettes that have been elminated from this offering ..so if you have them I'd get the new BIG TRAIL on its own.
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As a BIG John Wayne fan, what else can you say but they were typical Duke cowboy movies. The Big Trail was the movie that started the Duke on the road to stardom. I watched both disks to compare the quality of the film.
Watching the movie in Fox Grandeur 70 MM film was beautiful. It was WAY before it's time.
North To Alaska, The Comancheros & The Undefeated ALL had the typical fight scene, the typical Duke & best friend riding together & of course a Patriotic speech by The Duke. The cast had All the familiar faces. A very good value!
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Not a collection of his greatest, but that are a lot of fun. The Commancheros is certainly an old favorite, Big Trail is a collector's item, North to Alaska is very funny, and the Undefeated is worthwhile. Nice to have them all in one set.
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First, this is a great collection to have, if you don't have any of these titles. There are four disks in their respectful movies case, which are in slim cases. The Big Trail was made in 1930 with two disks, to chose between Widescreen or Fullscreen format and is in very good quality. The other three films were made between the 60s and only offer Widescreen formant. Besides John Wayne, these films star: Rock Hudson, Tyrone Power, Stuart Whitman, Lee Marvin, Stewart Granger, Tony Agular and Ben Johnson. This is a must have for any Western, John Wayne or old movie fans. I would recommend this.
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I am a John Wayne movie buff! I can't seem to get enough. I grew up with these type movies and John Wayne movies topped them all. My purchase came on time, in appropriate packaging, and without blemishes of any type. The movies were clear and the acting, as awesome as I remembered. They brought back memories of fond times also. John Wayne's type casting was always perfect; the rough and rugged, strong on the outside guy with a heart as big as the universe. Though he appeared to play that part in all of his movies, it was appropriate for him. I wanted to be like him. He was true to his part, a rock, a protector of the weak, a lover without the flamboyance which was never necessary because the ladies knew his true nature. Bring on the Duke!
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It was terrific to discover this group of John Wayne movies. North to Alaska is very hard to find & so are The Undefeated & Commancheros! To find them all in one set was terrific! Any John Wayne fan would love this set!
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What more can you say about John Wayne, all were his usual great movies. Thanks Big John for so many years of entertainment. We need more of him!!!
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